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Partner municipalities approve groundbreaking reduction in local tariffs for women- and youth-owned startups.

By Diamanta Vito and Erald Lamja

Increased agency amplifies the abilities of women and youth to contribute to community resiliency and the prevention of violence, both within the home and related to extremism. When women, girls, and boys are better able to protect their personal rights and safety, they may also extend that circle of protection to those closest to them. One crucial point of sustainable independence is financial independence; therefore, the economic empowerment of women and youth is a vital building block of community resilience.

PLGP works at the local level to support women and youth as entrepreneurs through a two-pronged approach, utilizing both capacity-building trainings and commodities assistance to empower individuals and by advocating with governments for municipal incentives.  

Local tariffs are set and administered in accordance with Law No. 139/2015 “On Local Self Government,” Article 8/III wherein it states, “the right of LGUs to establish local taxes and tariffs for services performed as well as their level, in accordance with the legislation in force and the interests of the Municipality”. Except as otherwise provided in the law, the City Council decides on the types and levels of fees, along with the basic rules for their administration and collection.

PLGP worked closely with partner municipalities to advise and coach municipal staff as they planned their 2020 Budgets. In accordance with the legal framework, experts guided the technical staff in the proper method to include these incentives in their proposed annual fiscal packages.

“Thinking of local tariffs, you can say it is a little bit modest, but this is how you start-doing small things today to get to big wonderful ones in the future,” said Tanita Duro, Chief of Cabinet in the Municipality of Kamëz.

Together with the tax department of each partner municipality, PLGP experts advised the local decision-makers to include incentives supporting the engagement of women and youth in economic activities.

“We see women and youth as potential bearers of peace in the community,” said Afërdita, Director of Local Taxes in the Municipality of Librazhd. “We want to empower them to find their voice. We are sure that by empowering them, it will change the dynamics in their communities.” In similar voice, the Mayor of Cerrik, Andis Salla stated, “The idea is simple, and makes perfect sense, when women and youth are empowered economically and are part of decision making in their communities, societies are more cohesive and more peaceful.”

As a result of the support and coaching given to the local staff, all six of PLGP’s partner municipalities decided on an affirmative action in the form of tariff reduction for women- and youth-owned startups.

This is the first time that reductions were given in this manner and are a concrete representation of the political will to move forward with measures towards gender equality in the economic sphere.

Increased access to becoming business owners is expected to impact not only the inclusion of women and youth in economic activities but go beyond that to allow them to act with greater agency and elevated status as change-makers and peace-builders in both their families and communities-at-large.

New businesses managed by girls and women and those started by individuals under the age of 25 (regardless of gender) will receive a reduction in local tariffs ranging from 20-50% (depending on the municipality) for the first year.

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