Macedonian Center for International Cooperation recently issued the following announcement on July 20.
The Regional Forum of CIVICA Mobilitas, on topic: " The process of decentralization in Macedonia ", held on yesterday (July 19, 2018), once again stressed the need for debate and reforms that will make decentralization functional.
"The forum is another example of the cooperation that is constantly initiated by CIVICA mobilitas . Here, besides representatives of civil society organizations, representatives of local and national institutions are also present," said Peter Toines, the international leader of the CIVICA mobilitas team at the opening. The participants were also welcomed by the Ambassador of Switzerland to Macedonia, her Excellency Sibyl Suther Tehada . "For us, decentralization is a two-pronged approach , first, decentralization of power, ie sharing responsibilities between the central and local government, and, secondly, the decentralization of the civil society. If we want to have a strong civil society, we need to bring the benefits from it to every part of the country. This forum is proof of that approach, "she said. Ambassador Tehada added that decentralization will become an even more important issue in the light of Macedonia's accession to the EU and that it hopes that Swiss support will be an added value in the process.
Speakers in the first panel addressed the issues of the decentralization process and how to ensure more balanced development of the regions and more efficient, more inclusive and more transparent local self-government. Dejan Pavleski, Deputy Minister of Local Self-Government thanked the organizers for holding the current debate on decentralization in Macedonia. He stressed that the process of transferring competencies to the central to the local government should be followed with financial support for those competencies. The Mayor of Veles, Ace Kocevski, stressed that Macedonia still has no real attitude towards the local self-government, this is shown by the election of ministers for local self-government. "I would like the new Government, headed by the former mayor of Strumica, to start working on new solutions for local self-government, those that we promised citizens and for which we got their trust," said Kocevski. According to him, the reforms should continue in three directions : 1) a new package of decentralized competencies; 2) financial reforms; and 3) adjusting the organizational setup.
Ramiz Rexhepi, Director of the Regional Balanced Development Bureau, and Dragica Zdraveva, Head of the Center for Development of the East Planning Region, spoke about regional balanced development . According to Rexhepi, the current allocation of 4.5% of VAT to municipal accounts should increase and be at least 10% . Regarding the personal income tax , from which municipal budgets received 3%, director Rexhepi believes that he should 100% go to the municipalities. "We can not talk about a policy of balanced regional development, but only for regional development," Zdraveva said. According to her, the decentralization and local self-government reforms should be a priority for the new government. The second panel was dedicated to (de) centralized development and influence of civil society in Macedonia. The representatives of the municipalities of Dolneni and Kavadarci talked about their experiences. "Our problem is the small number of civil society organizations on the territory of the municipality," said Aysha Muaremoska Topaloska from the municipality of Dolneni.
According to Todor Efremov, from the municipality of Kavadarci , their cooperation with the civil society organizations is very good. From a while ago, the municipality frequently consults the CSOs and, according to the possibilities, adapts to their demands . One is the increase in the amount of grants for CSOs. According to Astrid Rexhepi from the Center for Education and Development , decentralization should be lowered to a level below - the local self-government. "We kicked out sneakers," Rexhepi said, referring to the numerous field visits, "but we have closely observed the problems of the population . Of these, the biggest problem is the partisation of the local and urban communities. We saw low capacities, but great will to workwhich should be used not only by civil society organizations, but also by the municipalities, "he added. According to Liljana Nikolova from the Rumanovo Coalition from Kumanovo, citizens need education about what the process of initiating a civic initiative is. The last panel was devoted to the decentralization and promotion of community rights at the local level through the Commissions for Inter-Ethnic Relations, which was discussed by Rubin Zemon, the special advisor for the development of a multicultural society, interculturalism and intercultural communications in the Cabinet of the Prime Minister and Arben Taravari, the Mayor of Gostivar .
" The basis of multiculturalism is the dialogue, " said Zemon, and stressed that in the 2004 Law on Local Self-Government, high barriers have been set in this area that disable dialogue. "Unfortunately, the Commissions have more in the smaller municipalities, and not in the bigger ones where the problems are actually. This means that commissions are dysfunctional, with no clear mandate and role , "he said, adding that preparations for the Tolerance Strategy have been launched . Mayor Taravari addressed the case of Gostivar. "In our country, several schools are mixed, and students do not follow classes in different shifts, even kindergartens function together," he added. According to him, the municipality needs capable people, regardless of their party affiliationand therefore based his cabinet on such criteria. Tarawari said it is difficult to follow the law that the communities measure with percentages, because the percentages do not bear the rights for them, but their mutual relation.
Original source can be found here.