By Bekim Murati and Elton Stafa –
An open and inclusive dialogue between the national government and local self-governments is key to improving both service delivery to citizens and the efficiency of the overall central and local public administrations. Under such auspices, the Government of Albania (GoA) established the Consultative Council between the Central and Local Governments (CC) in late 2016, marking a major milestone in Albania’s progress towards effective decentralization policies and legislation.
In 2017 the CC convened on two occasions to discuss the draft Law on Local Self-Government Finance and the 2018 draft Budget Law and Fiscal Package. These meetings resulted in impactful improvement of policies and legislation before final approval by Parliament. In 2018 the CC convened nearly every month, discussing more than 54 draft laws and bylaws, and providing an opportunity to all 61 mayors and local government representatives to express their opinions before the final approval by the Council of Ministers and Parliament.
“The CC now constitutes a unique platform and an effective mechanism for bipartisan intergovernmental dialogue and consultation between the national government and local self-governments from the entire political spectrum,” – says Bekim Murati, the General Director of the Agency for the Support of Local Self-Government, which is also the CC’s Technical Secretariat. The Agency has played a remarkable role in stimulating the functionality of the CC by institutionalizing the regular meetings of the council on a monthly basis, strengthening the mechanism for setting the agenda, providing feedback to participants on the conclusions of the meetings, and by widening the scope of participants (including those such as the Ministry of Education, Sports and Youth, and Ministry of Justice that were not originally included in the CC). Meanwhile the major challenges remain the follow up of the implementation of recommendations and improvement of the consultation standards.
“The CC needs a strong Technical Secretariat to do the prep-work for an effective meeting of the CC and to ensure that after the meeting, line ministries do their follow up to reflect local governments’ comments and suggestions,” says Kevin McLaughlin, Chief of Party of the USAID’s Planning and Local Governance Project in Albania (PLGP). PLGP has supported the Agency and the CC technically, logistically, and financially during 2018 and is proud to see the CC become a key and indispensable institution in the lawmaking process in Albania. “This would have not been possible without a partner as committed as the Agency for the Support of Local Self-Government”, continues Mr. McLaughlin, also promising the continued support of PLGP into 2019.
Photo by Erald Lamja