Who is responsible? Municipalities "forget" electoral promises after local elections

2024-02-22 12:36:13Investigim SHKRUAR NGA JONA PLUMBI
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Municipalities in Albania have become more transparent, sharing more information for citizens, but the work in keeping the promises of the mayors in electoral campaigns is still lagging.

The Faktoje Center published the findings of the monitoring report on the performance of transparency of 10 local government institutions in Albania within the project "40 promises, 10 municipalities", which for the fourth year in a row is supported by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

The analysis showed that out of 40 electoral promises of the May 2023 campaign in the ten municipalities, only 5 have been fully kept and 11 partially. Meanwhile, 24 promises or about 70% of the promises made by the municipalities or their mayors have not been kept. Keeping electoral promises and in cases where they are recycled from previous mandates, continues to remain problematic.

Transparency, accountability and the importance of the work of local government institutions on the road to European integration were the focus of the conference "Strengthening the Accountability of Local Government Institutions", organized by Faktoje in synergy with the C1-EU-NPA project and the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Low Countries in Tirana.

"Municipalities have a very special importance for the European Union" - was the message of the ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Tirana, Mr. Reinout Vos.

"Europe is full of municipalities and we in the EU expect a lot from them. This is because the municipalities will be able to administer EU funds, as well as be responsible for how they spend them. And I assure you that it is not easy. The EU is very strong in demanding accountability on behalf of European taxpayers when it comes to managing funds. This requires the development of local government institutions as well as their strengthening so that they deliver to the citizens."

Regarding the accountability and transparency of the work of local government institutions, the executive director of the Faktoje center, Klodiana Kapo, referred to the work carried out to monitor several municipalities in the country through the "10 municipalities, 40 promises" project enabled by the National Endowment for Democracy and implemented from Faktoje in the last 4 years.

"During these years of monitoring the municipalities in the country, we have encountered some challenges, but at the same time we have also noticed a reflection from some municipalities that have improved their performance mainly in the transparency component. The biggest challenge remains that of fulfilling the electoral promises given by the candidates, who then take the post of mayor."

The findings and results of the municipalities monitored during the last year were presented to the participants by the editorial manager of Faktoje, Aimona Vogli.

"The municipalities with the highest performance in terms of transparency towards the citizen are those of Shkodra, Korça and Lezha with 100% and then that of Dibra completing 87.5%, while the municipality with the weakest performance is the Municipality of Kavaja, whose level of transparency is only 18.7%."

Who is responsible? Municipalities "forget" electoral promises after
*findings of the Faktoje report for the monitored municipalities in 2023
Who is responsible? Municipalities "forget" electoral promises after
*findings of Faktoje's report on municipalities monitored in 4 years for transparency

Mr. Rudin Beka, the deputy mayor of the Municipality of Shkodër, one of the monitored municipalities with the highest performance in terms of transparency, emphasized the importance that this transparency, measured in procedures and letters, is transmitted to the perception of citizens and the impact on their lives. daily.

"In these 7 months of work in the Municipality of Shkodër, the importance is placed on the creation of an open municipality not only on paper, but also as it is perceived by the citizens. We reconceptualized the way of structuring the City Hall. We created several new structures, such as: Bio Strajca, a new company that will manage the markets, which were also an element of monitoring by Faktoje regarding the keeping or not of the promises. These restructurings surpass the perception of the opening of the municipality that existed on paper, now in reality with the citizens and the impact that is felt in the city."
The expert on European integration issues from the C1-EU-NPA project, Geron Kamberi, brought some figures that show the importance of public finance management at the local level, especially as part of the European Union.

"Cities in Europe are seen as a source and solution for today's economic, environmental and social challenges. In urban areas of the EU live over two thirds of the population and which use around 80% of energy and provide up to 85% of Europe's GDP. In the period 2014-2020, about 115 billion euros of funds of the Cohesion Policy (EU Cohesion Policy) have been invested in cities, towns or peripheral areas. About 81 billion euros have been financed in urban areas alone."

The head of the Academy of Political Studies, Erjon Tase, in his speech emphasized that municipalities should be more innovative and competitive in ideas and vision.

"The main problem remains the imbalance between large municipalities, which earn income from construction or business, and small municipalities that do not have financial autonomy. Moreover, these municipalities are being abandoned in recent years and do not have the opportunity to generate income even in case of better financial management. Also, the leaders of the municipalities should understand that they should not only be service providers, but create the economic development of the units by drawing up strategic development plans."

The monitoring carried out by journalists and civil society activists aims to measure the level of transparency in local government institutions in Albania and to promote the sharing of information for the public as well as public accountability regarding decision-making, but also the management of the work of these institutions/ Facts .co.uk