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A joint meeting of NALAS Task Forces in Energy Efficiency and Fiscal Decentralization: creating synergies for impact
17.12.2013

  • Location: Skopje, Macedonia
  • Date: 03/12/2013 - 04/12/2013
  • Time: 08:00

On 3 and 4 December 2013, in Skopje, Macedonia, NALAS organized a joint meeting of its Task Forces in Energy Efficiency and Fiscal Decentralization. Some thirty experts from SEE local governments and local government associations exchanged experiences and good practices on fiscal decentralization and energy efficiency, learned about the recent developments in the region, discussed the possibilities for joint cooperation and planned the future activities of both task forces.

NALAS presented its new Strategic Plan for the period 2013-2017, outlining the vision for the NALAS Knowledge Centre and the important role that Task Forces have in knowledge generation and dissemination. Also, updates were provided on the key past activities and achievements, including NEXPO 2013 International Municipal Fair, NALAS role as a "Governance for Growth" Pillar Coordinator of the of the newly adopted SEE 2020 Strategy, as well as specific developments in the areas of energy efficiency and fiscal decentralization, such as the Covenant of Mayors Initiative, research on energy efficiency as part of the NEXPO 2013 preparations, the TRACE online course delivered in collaboration with the WB e-institute and the upcoming survey with the World Bank “Scaling Up Energy Efficiency in Buildings in Western Balkans”. ORF Energy also presented their five year programme on energy efficiency.

In the area of fiscal decentralization, the most important product was the Report on Fiscal Decentralization Indicators for SEE, Budva Conference on Fiscal Decentralization and its Declaration. The key findings and conclusions of the Report were presented and discussed among participants. This report shows a huge population density in the capital cities, followed by concentration of revenues. Most of the local governments' revenues come from the national governments, which puts a risk of unstable, unpredictable and politicized transfer systems. Another trend that is happening in the region is attacking the local government’s own revenues, such as the land development fee, as a result of the pressure by the business community. On the other hand, there are other unused revenue potentials, such as the property tax and the personal income tax.

In the discussions, participants expressed concerns that decentralization is being done based on political criteria, fiscal decentralization does not happen at the desired pace, local government revenues are not stable and predictable and many countries face initiatives for new territorial organization, done without any consultative process. In participant’s view, NALAS provides a unique opportunity to exchange experiences and good practices, which can be a solid base to develop arguments when negotiating and lobbying to the central governments on national level.

The Task Forces brainstormed on the possibilities for cooperation between the two groups. The conclusion was that there is a huge window of opportunity for joint activities, ranging from model analyses of financial effects on energy efficiency measures on municipal budget, fiscal policy for ESCO companies,  coordination between energy efficiency planning and energy efficiency financing, evidence based lobbying, etc.  
 
Through a World Café group work method, divided in four groups, participants discussed the “Barriers for Financing Energy Efficiency Projects at Local Level in South East Europe”, focusing on: the obstacles for municipal investments in energy efficiency in public buildings and recommendations for overcoming them; barriers for the involvement of the private sector and ESCO companies; components of intergovernmental transfers that can be used to finance energy efficiency investments; and analyses conducted to support energy efficiency investments. The vivid discussion in all groups produced number of conclusions and recommendations which will be incorporated in the World Bank study.  

 

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