Assistant Minister of State Administration and Local Self-Government Sasa Mogic pointed out today that the focus of the Local Government Reform Program was on citizens and that it comprehensively presents the state of local self-governments in Serbia.
He said at the panel discussion “Strategic directions of strengthening local self-government in the Republic of Serbia”, organized within the 49th Assembly of the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM), that the goal of the Program is efficient and sustainable local self-government.
“The local self-government reform program is part of the Public Administration Reform Strategy, and this is the first time in Serbia that a strategic document has been adopted that regulates all directions of development and reform of the local self-government system,” said Mogić.
He added that the Program has four main goals and a part that is arranged for the realization of the Action Plan until 2023 program.
The first goal, as he said, refers to the position and responsibility of local self-government, and within that goal, tasks related to the full ratification of the European Charter of Local Self-Government are planned.
“An important segment of this work is communication with citizens, ie transparency and participation of citizens in local government affairs,” said Mogic, adding that one of the tasks was the adoption of a new Law on Referendum and People’s Initiative, which should “revive key tools guaranteed to citizens.” Constitution for participation in the affairs of local government “.
He assessed that the objections addressed to that law do not stand legally and that by passing this law, the citizens would have tools that they did not have in the previous 25 years.
“The second goal of the Program is related to finances, and it is planned to analyze the implementation of the Law on Financing Local Self-Government in order to see if a change in the legal framework determining the financing of local self-governments is needed,” Mogic said. budget planning and that continuity and quality are necessary in planning.
Mogić explained that the third goal of the Program refers to the capacities of local self-government units, primarily human resources, human resources management and development of human resources structure in accordance with local self-government competencies “because everyone needs change in work, learning new skills to respond to the current moment”. .
He explained that the first three goals are prerequisites for providing efficient services to citizens and the economy, which are the fourth goal of the Program.
“The three main areas of providing local services are administrative services, public services and services of companies, primarily utility companies. Various activities are planned there and preparations for measuring the availability of quality services in these three groups,” said Mogic.
The Secretary General of the SCTM, Djordje Stanicic, said that the organization “has been insisting for years on the European Charter of Local Self-Government and Subsidiarity as a way to organize a society.”
He pointed out that in local governments there is often a problem of overlap and vaguely divided competencies between different levels of government.
“It is also very important for our strategic plan that the program insists on the application of an additional protocol on mandatory participation of local self-government in defining all tasks when it comes to local self-government at the level of the entire country,” said Stanicic.
He emphasized that it is very important to revive the Commission for Financing Local Self-Government, which was initiated by the Ministry of Finance.
“The meaning of the work of the Commission is the sufficiency and predictability of financial resources intended for local self-government and something we will especially insist on as an organization given the diversity of our municipalities in reality, and their uniformity in law, we will insist on inter-municipal cooperation,” said Stanicic.
He assessed that local self-governments are successfully administering the property tax, but that there is a challenge regarding the tax on the transfer of absolute rights, which should be transferred to the competence of local self-governments.
The head of the department for cooperation of the European Union Delegation to Serbia, Nikola Bertolini, said that the European Union sees local self-government as the first, and sometimes the only point that citizens can turn to and get a service.
“When it becomes a member state, the funds directed to Serbia will be ten times bigger than those directed today, and we notice a strange situation, which I can say is our fault because we direct a lot of funds to Serbia at the central and local level. , without thinking about the human capacities that need to absorb those funds, “Bartolini said.
He added that the United Nations agencies managed the funds and thus extracted human resources from the state administration, so many of the funds used for the projects ended up with people working in the administration leaving there to work in better conditions.
“The European Union is directing a lot of funds, but those funds should be used more to build capacity and knowledge,” Bertolini said.
He assessed that in the last few years, Serbia has become a “victim” of the strong money of the European Union, and now it should play a leading role and be the protagonist of its own future.
The Mayor of Pirot, Vladan Vasić, pointed out that one of the main challenges facing local governments is the constant investment in training staff for new competencies, as well as infrastructure, project documentation and predictability of finances.
“One generous income from the ministry is transfers, and they have not changed for years, so we have not respected the Law on Financing Local Self-Government for years,” Vasic said.
He added that inter-municipal cooperation is very important and that it is even more difficult to perform the competencies that are given in local self-governments at a quality level in underdeveloped municipalities.