For seven years in a row, the DEMOS project has helped the process of strengthening democratic governance and decentralization system in Kosovo, where municipalities provide better services to citizens.
From 17 municipalities where it was active before, since 2018 DEMOS has supported all Kosovo municipalities for a better governance and provision of services that positively affect the daily lives of citizens.
For Kosovo municipalities to provide better services to citizens, the DEMOS project uses the Municipal Performance Grant (MPG) as an incentive, whereby municipalities compete with each other for the best performance. Therefore, higher performance of a municipality means higher grant for it. In 2009, the Ministry of Local Government (MLG), for the first time in the region, has developed the municipal performance scheme as an incentive to improve local governance, and was followed by a performance grant.
In 2017, DEMOS in cooperation with MLG, developed the MPG and now is co-managed and co-funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) through the DEMOS project. From 2019, the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and the Norwegian Government (NORAD) are part of the co-funding of the Municipal Performance Grant, which is provided on an annual basis.
“MPG is heading toward institutionalization, in the sense that it will be probably internalized by MLG and continues even after conclusion of the DEMOS project” – says Ertan Munoglu, manager of the DEMOS project.
What does the Performance Grant requires?
It requires from municipalities to have a good performance, which is when a municipality:
– Is governed in a democratic way,
– Has good municipal management,
– Provides adequate services to citizens.
Municipalities are scored based on these fields, which also serve as indicators for receiving the grant.
About EUR 5 million will be allocated for the Performance Grant 2019.
In cooperation with MLG, DEMOS drafts reports that provide a clear overview of its performance and trends over the years in Kosovo’s municipalities, areas/indicators where the performance is good and indicators where improvements are needed. In those areas where performance is assessed as weaker, DEMOS provides training to municipalities.
According to Merita Barileva from the DEMOS project, it is utterly important for municipal officials to participate in these training sessions so that they can use knowledge and skills gained in their municipality.
“Our trainings, depending of the training topic, target relevant municipal officials and members of municipal assemblies. It is extremely important that municipal officers participate in these trainings so that when they return to work they can easily use the knowledge and skills gained therein”, she explains.
During 2019, about 1863 representatives of municipalities, of which 788 women and 219 from non-majority communities, have benefited from the DEMOS training program on topics such as: increasing women participation and representation in local decision-making, addressing external audit recommendations, updating the register and collecting property tax, human resource management, etc. Out of these participants, 900 were members of the assembly and 700 were officials.
Aurora Ramadani, Director of Administration in the Municipality of Ferizaj, participant in one of the trainings organized by DEMOS, said that the knowledge gained can be applied in her municipality.
“Knowledge and recommendations for better management of human resources obtained during the training can be easily applied in our municipality”, she said.
According to the Performance Report of 2018 on the municipal performance grant, the area with highest performance was that of Service Delivery, while the one with lowest performance was the area of Municipal Management. Indicators where municipalities have shown poorer average performance are: i) women appointed to political positions in the municipality and ii) the extent of municipal territory included in the (detailed) regulatory plans.
Regarding the central level support, the DEMOS project since 2014 has provided technical assistance, mainly to the Ministry of Local Government (MLG), which is provided based on the MLG’s requirements and needs.
From 2018 this support has been focused on:
Strengthening capacities to manage the Municipal Performance Grant (MPG) and further develop municipal performance management system, and
In key legislation and policies related to local government; such as the Law on Local Government Finance.
In recent years, the project has also worked closely with the Ministry of Finance.
The support of municipalities and other relevant ministries, i.e., MLG and MoF, from the DEMOS project has not stopped even in times of pandemic, where support continued with a focus on the management of the Municipal Performance Grant (MPG), further development of the Management System of Municipal Performance (MPMS), including the drafting of the new Regulation on MPMS and MPG.
Virtual meetings were also organized with mayors, directors, presidents of assemblies and other important municipal representatives to discuss the Municipal Performance Grant (MPG) in general, and the individual performance of each municipality. These meetings served as an opportunity to discuss challenges and opportunities for improving performance in the MPG.
During the pandemic period, DEMOS also continued to support the Ministries of Finance and the MLG, in improving municipal finance legislation and establish additional potential mechanisms for municipal funding.
“Another initiative that has continued during the pandemic period is the support of MoF and MLG to improve legislation related to local government finances, including possibility of creating more appropriate mechanisms for funding municipalities by line ministries, the Government of Kosovo or donors”, explains Shpend Emini, Deputy Project Manager.
A good and democratic governance result in transparency, accountability, equality and inclusion of all citizens in decision-making, and the DEMOS’s vision is for municipalities to achieve these and provide services based on the needs of their citizens. Therefore, on one hand, DEMOS stimulates municipalities to improve governance through grants, while on the other hand helps them through technical assistance to improve performance where municipalities need so.
The Municipal Decentralization and Support Project (DEMOS) is a project of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), co-funded by Sweden and Norway, implemented by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation-Kosovo.