Re-thinking decentralization requires national consensus

Kosovo Local Government Institute (KLGI) and Local Government Information Unit (LGiU) based in London, the United Kingdom, today (Thursday) held the conference entitled, “Necessity to Review Decentralization in Kosovo,” at ‘Sheshi 21.’

The conference addressed the following perspectives; why should we rethink decentralization in Kosovo? Challenges and Perspectives of local governance in Kosovo? Where does the reform process stand today and which is the way forward? What are the different political perspectives regarding decentralization in Kosovo? How has decentralization derived?

During the ceremony, it was concluded that decentralization has a political approach and should be reviewed in several aspects; there should be a revision in the fiscal and financial aspect; the criteria for capital investments from the line ministries; the aspect of public enterprises considering that there is no accountability and many other areas that directly affect the lives of citizens. 

Special focus was put on the establishment of new municipalities in Kosovo, the Association/Community of Serb Majority Municipalities, the relations between the mayor and the municipal assembly, the creation of a formula that analyzes the activities at the local level, the clarity of authority (competences), and the political aspect that lies behind the process of decentralization. 

Based on the aforementioned elements, it was concluded that there is a need to review the decentralization process as a whole and take measures to improve the current situation.

The Executive Director of Kosovo Local Government Institute, Mr. Besnik Tahiri presented the first draft of the document to address the challenges and opportunities at the local level. Moreover, he emphasized that decentralization is not a technical matter, but a political one considering that results at the local level show the results of the state as a whole.

"The aspect of public enterprises, the criteria for capital investment by line ministries, and the fiscal and financial aspect should all be reviewed. The mayor of a municipality is very strong on paper, but weak in the operational aspect,” stated Mr. Tahiri. 

Whereas, regarding the establishment of new municipalities, Mr. Tahiri stated that Kosovo does not need more municipalities.

The Executive Director of LGiU, Mr. Jonathan Carr-West emphasized that the document analysis provides good and important recommendations. According to Mr. Carr-West, the local government is important as citizens are facing multiple and complex challenges.

"All areas, such as health and education are best managed at the local level since state alone cannot solve all these problems. There should be agencies with local people that have control, which is also one of the reasons that there should be a functional program of decentralization” said Mr. Carr-West.

The Deputy Minister of Local Government, Mr. Bajram Gecaj, stated that after the war, Kosovo has been completely destroyed, including here the political system. As such, local government requires a complete review/redesign.

"Initially, many laws and regulations were legislated to improve various issues. There have been many advanced elements, but they have not been adapted due to the circumstances at the time. In 2008, local government began to redesign based on the Ahtisaari agreement, began to formulate a redesign of local government based on the Ahtisaari agreement," Mr. Gecaj stated.

In addition, Mr. Glauk Konjuvca, Mr. Lutfi Haziri and Mr. Agim Bahtiri presented on the political aspect of the decentralization process.

In this event, the document entitled “Necessity to Rethink Decentralization in Kosovo” was presented by Mr. Besnik Tahiri – Executive Director of Kosovo Local Government Institute. The presentation was followed by the key speeches starting from Mr. Jonathan Carr – West, Executive Director of LGiU; Mr. Bajram Gecaj, Deputy Minister of MLGA; Mr. Naim Ismajli, Mayor of Shtime Municipality; Mr. Lutfi Haziri, Mayor of Gjilan Municipality, Mr. Glauk Konjuvca, Deputy in the Parliament of Kosovo; Mr. Agim Bahtiri, Mayor of Mitrovica municipality and Besa Luzha, Executive Director of FES.

Other participants in this ceremony were representatives of media, Ministry of Local Government Administration officials, Mayors of Municipalities, diplomatic representatives in Kosovo, local and international organizations, donors and other honored guests.

The Office of Communication with Media

Kosovo Local Government Institute