Transparency and accountability in the allocation of subsidies from municipalities increase

Prishtina, November 2017 – Subsidization In 2016, the Swiss organization HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, the project Decentralization and Support to Municipalities (DEMOS) financed by the Swiss Cooperation Office in Kosovo, supported five partner municipalities in the implementation of a new Regulation on the Allocation of Subsidies, which has influenced increasing the transparency and accountability in the allocation of subsidies to municipalities.

Prishtina, November 2017 – Subsidization of businesses and individuals in Kosovo by the municipalities has had a positive impact on the increase of households, in particular in the increase of domestic production by farmers. But in many cases, subsidies were made by old regulations which did not provide sufficient transparency in the allocation of the public money.

In 2016, the project Decentralization and Municipal Support (DEMOS), financed by the Swiss Cooperation Office in Kosovo, supported five partner municipalities in the implementation of a new regulation that would guarantee more transparency in the allocation of subsidies. In 2016, five of the 17 DEMOS partner municipalities, have prepared and approved in the municipal assemblies the new Regulation on Subsidies and have begun its implementation in 2017. In addition to the DEMOS Regulation for Municipalities in 2017, the Ministry of Finance has also offered municipalities a regulation on subsidies, which adjusts subsidies on NGO public funding criteria, standards and procedures, but does not contradict with other areas covered by the DEMOS regulation.

Finance Director of the Municipality of Kaçanik, Bahri Selimi, stated that subsidies were previously allocated to organizations and individuals on the basis of time to time requests submitted to the municipality, whereas subsidies are now allocated only after public announcements are made. “Subsidies do not require procurement procedures, but however, this regulation has brought some new procedures. Their novelty is that when we fund different programs, this is done by public invitations or calls. Earlier, there were other procedures. Anyone interested for subsidies had to submit a request and we would than decide on the form of financing the respective project. Now this is done through public calls, which has contributed to the increase of transparency and accountability in terms of allocation and spending of public money “, said Selimi.

According to Selimi, during 2017, the Municipality of Kaçanik has allocated subsidies totaling EUR 207,000, based on the procedures envisaged by the new regulation. Meanwhile, other DEMOS partner municipalities, such as Vitia, which has also implemented this regulation during 2017, subsidized various categories with a total of EUR 197,600.

In addition to the increase of transparency and accountability, the beneficiaries of these subsidies now also have a clearer and easier form of application, reporting, but also of complaints in case of any dissatisfaction. This has been achieved through standardized application forms, more transparent assessment of applications, appealing of decisions on subsidy allocation and expenditure reporting. In case of any complaint by the applicant, the respective municipality is now obliged to create a commission with a completely different composition from the application evaluation committee, to review the decision. The new regulation requires more compliance with procedures, preparation of applications and budget for applying, reporting, etc., which initially was considered by the beneficiaries as a burden, considering the limited possibilities of some categories of beneficiaries to prepare applications, budgets or reports. But this has not posed a problem according to finance director in Vitia Municipality, Ibrahim Rama. “We have begun implementing this new regulation since the beginning of this year and I can say that this has greatly influenced on the increase of transparency. In comparison with the previous regulation, this regulation stipulates that beneficiaries report on public spending more transparently and this is made possible by standardized forms of expenditure reporting, ” said Rama.

The new regulation adopted by the Municipal Assemblies in 2016 is legally binding for the five partner municipalities, therefore, the budgeted and financial means intended for subsidies under the “Subsidies and Transfers” code have been spent on the basis of the new regulation.

From the beginning of 2018, this regulation is foreseen to be implemented also in other municipalities in Kosovo.