Here at DEMOS the capacity building trainings have continued even via computer screens. Over the years, referring to the audit reports and the needs assessment report, the DEMOS’s staff has created the training needs scheme, by referring to the weakest points of municipal performance. The purpose of these trainings is to help municipalities strengthen their performance towards democratic governance and management.
To see up close what are the most common challenges faced by municipalities in Kosovo, DEMOS has held a virtual meeting with representatives from 5 municipalities, which have completed the questionnaire by selecting priority trainings from a list of proposed topics, and have also identified additional, specific challenges for municipalities.
The low implementation of audit recommendations, confirmed by the NAO reports, June-July 2020, has highlighted that many recommendations from previous years have not been addressed leaving municipalities still to face significant management and governance challenges.
The questionnaire also found that training on “implementation of the audit recommendation” is more necessary and considered more important in terms of improving efficiency and effectiveness in daily activities in the workplace.
The training on external auditor recommendations is divided into four modules, which were provided to municipal officials for all municipalities in Kosovo. These trainings aim to strengthen the knowledge about:
Internal control system and risk management;
Capital investment planning and budgeting;
Approaches and techniques in the project management process, and
Financial reporting management challenges
“The modules addressed are highly specific and relevant to the needs of municipalities and are very useful and concrete to be implemented in practice,’ explains Dardan Maliqi, Intervention Manager at DEMOS.
DEMOS conducts trainings only in areas and municipalities where institutions and other organizations have not provided capacity building support. Also, to make the trainings more comprehensible, they are organized in smaller groups.
This year, the most needed training was considered capacity building support in the development and implementation of financial management legal procedures. About 100 municipal officials in four modules have benefited from these virtual trainings.
According to Dardan Maliqi, trainings serve municipalities to enhance their performance and develop so that the same auditor recommendations are not repeated.
“The purpose of the online training is to help municipal officials improve their performance in relation to the Municipal Performance Grant. The training is about addressing the real training needs of municipal officials in the field of municipal management, with a particular focus on the indicator addressing the recommendations of the external auditor that will contribute to enhancing municipal performance, and consequently not to repeat the same recommendations for future addressing in relation to this indicator’, he said.
The main purpose of these trainings is for the municipalities to benefit from and to be able to then use the skills gained in improving the performance of the municipality towards a more democratic and open government.
According to the participants, trainings are also necessary for people who have been working in institutions for years.
‘These trainings are indispensable despite the fact that some of us gave been for a long time in institutions, and changes in processes and refreshing of knowledge by both trainers and peer exchanges (municipal participants) have been extraordinary,” said Xhevahire Rushiti, Chief Financial Officer in the municipality of Mamusha.
Jetush Rrafshi, an auditor from the municipality of Shtime, shares the same opinion.
“The trainings held have been extremely necessary, as we need such trainings with a focus on refreshing the knowledge on financial management and complementing the training programs necessary for Budget Organizations”, he said.
In addition to the participants who have benefited from these trainings, the latter have passed on the knowledge gained to other officials.
‘For me personally they have had a very positive effect as I have gained new knowledge from all the modules. I also forwarded the material of all the modules to all the directors so that they can then be forwarded to their officials’, said Xhevahire Rushiti, participant.
This year, the pandemic situation had caused the trainings to be held online, where apart from some minor technical problems, there was no obstacle in gaining knowledge.
“The circumstances under which trainings took place this year have caused for limitation to participation and conducting of the training, but in any case they helped refresh our knowledge on the implementation of the recommendations from the Auditors’ Reports and new guidelines for investments and capital projects from the Ministry of Finance as well as project management as a new topic from the DEMOS project”, said Jetush Rrafshi.
In addition to training, DEMOS also holds communication or advocacy programs for those areas where training is not the solution, such as the inclusion of women in public meetings, as one of the weakest indicators, which is more of a social norms product that can be solved through communication or advocacy to promote the inclusion of women.
Last year, 2019, 1863 representatives of municipalities benefited from DEMOS trainings, out of which 788 women and 219 from non-majority communities, on topics such as: increasing the participation and representation of women in local decision-making, addressing the recommendations of external audit, updating the register and collecting property tax, human resource management, etc.
Of these participants, 900 were members of municipal assemblies, while 700 were municipal officials.