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A new business planning tool for asset management will improve water utilities' work

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The lack of proper maintenance of existing assets of the water sector, continuous postponing of maintenance and invisibility of maintenance until something goes wrong are only a few of the reasons of mismanagement in the water sector that motivated NALAS and its partners to work on a business planning decision supporting tool for Asset Management. At a kick-off meeting held on 14 October 2015 in Belgrade, Serbia, with participation of some forty Mayors, directors and staff of water utility companies, the importance of asset management was discussed and the business planning tool was presented.

"Within the Asset Management Project, NALAS has developed number of tools that can help local governments and public utility companies to start implementation of the Asset Management method, such as a Toolkit on Asset Management, online course and reports on asset management practices. Further on, the business planning decision support tool for asset management is expected to help public utility companies and local governments bring argumented business decisions that will ensure effective and efficient operation", said Miodrag Kolic, NALAS Project Manager.

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"The tool will allow decision-makers to compare several alternatives for investment and financial plan and choose the best option", adds Oliver Nacevski, Sub-Project Manager of the GIZ Open Regional Funds, Modernisation of Municipal Services.

"This is more than a model, it is process", explains Petros Kolovopoulos, an Asset Management consultant. "In this process, technical and financial people work together, explaining decision-makers why investment is needed".

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The business planning decision supporting tool for Asset Management will be tested in seven pilot water utility companies: Bijeljina, Banja Luka and Velika Kladusa (BH), Korce (Albania), Niksic (Montenegro), Probistip (Macedonia) and Subotica (Serbia).

In the discussion, Mayors and water utility Directors said that the model is a good continuation of what has been done so far in asset management planning within the Danube Water Program. According to them, systems get old and such planning is a must. The model presents an integrated approach in planning and maintaining public utility's assets. It is expected that it will help the public utility, together with the local government, to bring important decisions for the future, concluded the participants.

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"All of us face the same problems: water price, collection rate, water losses... We have two ways of solving these issues: the PU Director will propose higher water pries, while the Mayor will not agree, as elections are coming. This model is great, it should be implemented as soon as possible, and help us get good services for acceptable prices", said Toni Tonevski, Mayor of Probistip, Macedonia.

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This activity is implemented within the project “Asset management for water and sanitation sector in South-East Europe”. The project is funded by the German Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation (BMZ) and the Government of Switzerland and is implemented by GIZ (ORF MMS) and the Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe (NALAS).

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