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Facilitating Citizen Advocacy Efforts and Participation In Decision-Making

We at the PLGP strongly believe that transparency is a key element for good and accountable government. In alignment with this belief, we collaborated with the Municipalities of Lushnja and Vlora to develop their first-ever Citizens’ Guide to the Municipal Budget. The Guides translate the budget documents of the municipalities from complex technical and financial documents into simple terms which citizens, youth, taxpayers, and other stakeholders can understand. Topics elucidated include the use of public funds; how priority areas are determined for funding, despite what may have been promised; major investments of the municipality; and outlining the fiscal and financial perspective for the medium term in layman’s terms.

Distribution for the Guide varied by location: In the municipality of Lushnja, the Guide was presented to a group of civically-engaged youth and the Citizens Advisory Panel (CAP), a formal advocacy body established with the support of the PLGP and comprised of involved citizens from Lushnja. On the other hand, the Municipality of Vlora distributes a copy of the Guide to every citizen visiting the municipality.

This is the third consecutive year that the PLGP is engaged in promoting budget transparency and citizen engagement. Over these three years we supported 5 municipalities in publishing all of the treasury transactions of the municipality on their website, clearly accounting for every money spent by the municipality. In addition, 8 municipalities have developed Citizens Guides to the Municipal Budget.

Budget transparency and engaging in participatory budget processes bring many benefits:

  • It allows for the improvement of the budget itself–through feedback, the municipality can respond more quickly to citizens’ concerns and priorities;
  • Greater transparency and communications translate to improved effectiveness and efficiency of public policies and spending, as a special accountability is employed;
  • The gesture of opening up municipal ledgers to the public leads to more trust in government, and therefore a more resilient society and stronger local democracy; and
  • Budget transparency is also instrumental in generating higher revenues for governments as citizens are more likely to pay taxes and contribute donations if they trust that their money will be well spent.

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