USAID’s Planning and Local Governance Project works both at the national policy level and at the local level to gain full acceptance for the principles of decentralized governance and to disseminate and institutionalize practical and effective methods and techniques for municipal management. PLGP works with thirteen “partner” local government units including six model municipalities: Tirana, Durres, Fier, Lushnja, Berat, Kuçova, Patos, Vlore, Saranda, Elbasan, Korça, Vora, and Kamza and encompasses four main areas of endeavour:
Support the Government of Albania with Implementation of Effective Decentralization Policies and Legislation
PLGP helps build a bipartisan consensus on issues of strategic importance to local governments. In a spirit of inclusive dialogue, PLGP assists the Government of Albania (GOA), local government representatives, and relevant NGOs/municipal associations to make informed decisions based on inclusive consultations/broad consensus resulting in the more equitable distribution of resources and improved delivery of services; and promotes development of legislation that legally require such consultations.
Key achievements to date:
- Prepared a White Paper on Fiscal Decentralization in Albania (October 2012) that has guided central and local level policies and actions for the last five years.
- Provided technical advice and expertise in the drafting of the National Strategy for Decentralization and Local Governance(approved in 2015) which provides the roadmap for decentralization.
- Drafted the GoA’s new Organic Law (enacted in early 2016) on the Organization and Functioning of Local Governments that establishes the roles and responsibilities of municipal governments.
- Designed and drafted the Unconditional Grant Formula (enacted in 2016) allocating financial resources to all 61 municipalities in a more equitable, predictable and transparent manner.
- Supported the establishment and 2017 launch of the Central/Local Government Consultative Council, a key element of local government reform and the first formal structure obliging central government to consult with local governments on policies, laws, and issues affecting local governance.
- Drafted and supported consultation and finalization of the first-ever comprehensive Law on Local Government Finance(approved in April 2017) which ensures significant additional resources to local governments post territorial reform (local government revenues from freely disposable intergovernmental transfers for 2018 and subsequent years will be at least 33% more than the average of the past five years) and improves the stability of the intergovernmental finance system, a precondition for the effective implementation of all the above reforms.
Improve Local Governance
PLGP provides technical assistance and on-the-job training to staff in its 13 target municipalities and their administrative units on a variety of management and governance issues. A special focus has been given to information and communication technology (ICT) that will help build e-government solutions. The program assists selected local governments to improve tax collection; develop alternative methods to increase own-source revenues; better manage assets under their jurisdictions; and ensure the predictability, accuracy and transparency of local government budgetary processes. PLGP assists these municipalities in raising citizen awareness of local government functions, citizen rights and responsibilities, and citizen participation in local government decision-making.
Key achievements to date:
- Conducted the first-ever Local-Level Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability (PEFA) Assessments in Albania, that helped both municipalities and the national government accurately identify the strengths and weaknesses of public finance management systems against some international best practice benchmarks.
- Designed a Manual for Local Officials to aid local governments and municipal councils in implementing the new Organic Law (Law on Local Self Governance) and functions post territorial administrative reform.
- PLGP has developed two financial monitoring tools that help municipalities and their citizens to achieve and promote more transparent and accountable governance through the use of open-source data; and supported Participatory Budgeting Processes facilitating dialogue and communication between municipalities as service providers and citizens as service receivers and taxpayers.
- To improve the efficiency, transparency, and accountability of local government operations and advance citizen engagement in decision-making, PLGP developed user-friendly Citizens’ Guides to Municipal Budgets of Fier, Kuçova, and Saranda which provide practical information on revenues, expenditures, and strategic plans; and also developed a Tax Awareness Education Project in support of partner municipalities’ taxpayer services to encourage interactive communication with citizens and businesses and greater compliance with tax obligations.
- Conducted numerous capacity building activities including: Improving municipal financial operations and revenue mobilization in the post-Territorial Administrative Reform reality, managing effective Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects, and preparing well-designed project proposals for European Union projects (IPA funds) that address local needs.
- Provided Information and Communication Technology (ICT) improvements to support increased municipal finance and tax capacities and enable implementation of good management practices. Specifically, PLGP has established Tax Administration Information System (TAIS) in 9 partner municipalities, Finance Administration Information Systems (FAIS) in 8 partner municipalities,and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in 5 partner municipalities.
- As a result of the above systems, coupled with tax awareness programs and the training of local officials, PLGP partner municipalities have improved financial administration including tax collection resulting in an increase in collection by 20-30%.
- Established One-Stop Shops and Municipal Service Delivery Manuals in Korca, Fier, Berat, Saranda, and Roskovec that enable the municipalities to deliver substantially more efficient and responsive administrative services to citizens through a single service point that will reduce time, effort and frustration. These citizen-oriented service centers offer reduced costs for municipalities, less bureaucracy, better utilization of human resources, availability of data that allows for performance assessments, and increased transparency, reducing the likelihood of corruption.
- To better manage municipal assets and provide improved services, PLGP prepared three PPP Feasibility Studies on public street lighting with the municipalities of Korça, Elbasan, and Kuçova.
- Established 15 Citizen Advisory Panels (CAPs) which over time have gained credibility and momentum and now regularly consult with municipal officials on issues such as taxes, annual budgets and city development.
- To promote civic dialogue, PLGP partnered with UN Women in implementing Community-Based Scorecards (CBSs) in 16 Albanian municipalities as a means of considering the needs and priorities of citizens and assessing municipalities’ performance in meeting those needs. The scorecards resulted in many upgraded services including improvements to roads, irrigation canals, municipal infrastructure; building of social housing for vulnerable women; and employment opportunities.
Improve Management of Local Services
PLGP assists the GoA and local governments in ensuring that laws, policies, procedures, and services such as water, wastewater, and solid waste management are consistent with both EU and environmental standards.It assistsselected local governments and water utility supervisory boards in developing skills, defining roles, and building the knowledge needed to effectively manage and oversee jointly owned utility companies dealing with these services.
Key achievements to date:
- Provided direct assistance to the Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure in preparing and disseminating a set of Guidelines on Re-Organization of Water Supply and Sewerage Services following the Territory Administrative Reform and Water Sector Reform package.
- Developed and delivered several Training Sessions for Members of Supervisory/Administrative Councils of Water Supply and Sewerage Companies that clarified how to exercise their role, authority, and responsibility in governing water supply and sewerage companies.
- Prepared five Water Utility Transition Plans with the municipalities of Elbasan, Lushnja, Patos, Tirana and Vlora that serve as road-maps for the reorganization of the delivery of water and sewerage services.
- Assisted six local governments and water utilities with the development and implementation of Five-Year Business Plans (2016-2020) aimed at improving commercial performance and the quality of water service.
- Developed and delivered a Training on Private Sector Participation Models in the Water Supply and Sewerage Sector to all partner municipalities and water utilities.
- Developed a Guide to European Union Policies and Directives for Solid Waste and Wastewater and delivered an associated training to all partner municipalities and water utilities.
- Assisted eleven partner water utilities in developing and implementing Public Relations and Communications Activities and Improved Customer Complaint Management Procedures.
Assist the GoA and Local Governments to Plan and Manage Urban and Regional Growth
PLGP provides technical assistance to the GoA and selected local governments in developing the skills and knowledge needed to draft territorial plans in accordance with the Law on Territorial Planning. It also provides technical assistance to the National Territorial Planning Agency (NTPA) in developing a conceptual framework for the National Territorial Plan that is in accordance with the Territorial Planning Law and implementing regulations. Citizens, civil society groups, businesses, and other NGOs are provided opportunities for increasing their participation in and oversight of territorial planning.
Key achievements to date:
- Prepared Albania’s first five General Local Territorial Plans (GLTPs) that address the environmental, social, economic, demographic and infrastructural issues municipalities will face in the coming years.
- Prepared the terms of reference and provided expertise to the Ministry of Urban Development (MUD) in drafting and approving the National General Territory Plan.
- Designed a Territorial Planning Toolkit to aid local governments and professionals in implementing the territory planning legislation.
- Designed a Participatory Planning Manual to help planners, institutions and citizens engage in inclusive planning and land development processes.
- Supported the MUD in drafting the Territory Planning Law approved by the Parliament in July 2014 through an intensive multi-stakeholder participatory process.
- Supported the MUD in drafting four bylaws (territory planning, territorial development, public spaces and implementation of GLTPs) approved by the Council of Ministers in 2014-2016.
- Established five municipal territorial GIS databases to facilitate planning and land development.
- Facilitated the revision of 12 GLTPs approved at local and national level in 2012.
- Drafted an NTPA action plan, institutional assessment and internal regulations in 2012-2013.
- Prepared a Policy Paper, Financial Instruments for Land Development (January 2016), that outlines policy options and six financial instruments to fund physical infrastructure.
- Conducted numerous trainings on territory planning and development for local planners, mayors, local councilors, CAPs, and national planning institutions (NTPA and MUD).