From 22-24 January 2014, in Brussels, NALAS co-organized a seminar on Fiscal Decentralization. This was the fourth NALAS activity implemented in cooperation with the Local Administration Facility (LAF), the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange (TAIEX) instrument managed by the Directorate-General Enlargement of the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions.
Some 60 participants, representing municipalities from Western Balkans and Turkey took part in the seminar, learned about the practices and models of fiscal decentralization, exchanged experiences about the situation with fiscal decentralization in their countries and increased their knowledge about the impact that EU pre-accession requirements have on municipal budgets, so that they can be better prepared to face them.
Participants benefited from the rich experiences of local governments and their associations from Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland and Sweden in undergoing the challenging path of receiving fiscal autonomy and providing quality services for their citizens, in the same time taking the advantages of the available EU funds.
“The seminar was great. We have heard about different countries’ experiences, and now it is up to us to start implementing some of the elements of their best practices to our context. The conclusion is that there are no significant differences, we all face the same challenges: everywhere problems exist, everywhere national governments tend to control the local ones”, said Mr. Miomir Jaksic, Head of Finance of Podgorica, the capital of Montenegro.
Part of the NALAS Task Force on Fiscal Decentralization also took part in the seminar, both as speakers and participants. Ms. Vilma Milunovic presented the current development in the decentralization process in Slovenia and its implications on municipal finances. Ms. Ginka Tchavdarova spoke about the role of associations of local authorities in the negotiation process for EU accession, based on the experience of Bulgaria, while Mr. Emil Savov provided valuable insights on municipal financial capacity for funds absorption. NALAS Programme Officer for Fiscal Decentralization, Ms. Natasa Ilijeva-Acevska presented the findings of the NALAS Report “Fiscal Decentralization Indicators for SEE 2006-2011”.
“This seminar was an excellent opportunity for us as Association and for the members of the NALAS Fiscal Decentralization Task Force to learn more about the functioning of the EU and the available funds, the systems of fiscal decentralization in different EU countries, as well as a chance to compare the situation in our countries with the European standards. The seminar also born some new ideas for activities and researches that might advance the work of our Task Force”, said Ms. Zana Djukic, a representative of the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro and a member of the NALAS Task Force in Fiscal Decentralization.
The event was moderated by Ms. Ginka Tchavdarova, Director of the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria, which is the host Association of the NALAS Task Force in Fiscal Decentralization. “The seminar was very well planned and it has fully achieved its objectives. Through the numerous discussions with the participants, I can identify three main outcomes: first, they received information about the European institutions, how they function, what activities they have and what kind of assistance they provide. Of course, this is not enough, this was only a beginning and should be deepened in the future, as practical guide to respond to the needs of municipalities. The second thing is the exchange of practices among different countries. For us, the most important is that this seminar provided a very honest dialogue, exchanging both good and bad practices, what works and what doesn’t. And last, but not least, this seminar raised many practical ideas that still need to be initiated and implemented by the Local Government Associations (LGAs) and the municipalities themselves in the EU integration process. So, I see benefits for the LGAs, their members and for NALAS. As you were able to feel during the seminar, NALAS is a place where all are equal, support each other and share the spirit of solidarity, which should be nurtured in future”, concludes Ms. Tchavdarova.
To download the seminar Agenda:LAF Fiscal Decentralization.pdf