Study visit to the Republic of Macedonia

Place: Republic of Macedonia
Date: 26-28 December 2012

Topic:

•    Decentralization in Republic of Macedonia, lessons learned from this process
Lecturers / Speakers

Rizvan Sylejmani, Former Minister of Local Government in Macedonia
Sadi Bexhetin, Mayor of Tetovo

Prof. Dr. Vullnet Ameti, Rector of the University of Tetovo
Prof. Dr. Zamir Dika, Rector of the University of Eastern Europe
Mr. Hazbi Idrizi, Mayor of Bogovina Municipality
Prof. Dr. Rufi Osmani, Mayor of Gostivar Municipality.


Visits:

Visit to the Municipality of Tetovo; Visit to the University of Tetovo; Visit to South East European University, visit to the Public Company; Visit to Bogovina Municipality, the Municipality of Gostivar Visit.

About the study visit in Macedonia organized by the Local Governance Academy

 Within the first module of the Local Governance Academy, a study visit program was organized in the Republic of Macedonia from 26-28 December 2012.

This visit had intended to learn from lessons and best practices from the decentralization process in Macedonia, where on visit were met Mayors of municipalities of Tetovo, Gostivar, Bogovina, representatives of academic life at the University of Eastern Europe and an extremely interesting meeting with former Minister of Local Government Mr Rizvan Sylejmani.

The visit was followed by several activities, such as: Numerous meetings with Mayors and municipal officials where we could closely see the decentralization process in Macedonia and structuring of municipal government, and also compared differences and similarities in the organization of municipal administration with the Republic of Kosovo, almost all levels of government.

Municipal public enterprises were visited in Tetovo, where there was a different organizational model that differs from the organization of municipal enterprises in Kosovo. This company belongs to a conservative type of organization, where all utilities (water, sewer, cleaning, greening are concentrated in a single enterprise) and one governing authority. With this model of governance of municipal enterprise it was closely observed that it is not functional for the fact that the service delivery to citizens is not at the right level, the administration is loaded with officials and an inadequate reporting line was found at managerial levels of this enterprise.

Of all these problems, General Director presented a not good picture of revenue collections which were very small approximately 17% of projected annual revenue. Also during the first visit we could clearly see that decentralization in Albanian municipalities had discriminatory character in particular in annual budget allocation to municipalities. Also many services that should be transferred to the local level are still under competence of central level ex. building permits, municipal property management etc. This visit included a lecture held by ex - Minister of Local Government Mr. Rizvan Sulejmani, where at the beginning of his lecture about the process of decentralization in Macedonia, he said that “Decentralization is not luck but our choice", while this made me realize that people in Macedonia, particularly Albanians, do not see the decentralization as a process of service delivery to citizens, but more as an imposition and territorial separation of community.

According to the European Charter for decentralization, there are two trends that lead a state to local government decentralization:

a.    Decentralization is seen as an instrument for providing services to citizens; and
b.    Decentralization as a political instrument - representation of community identity (where includes cultural element and increased community representatives in decision-making).
But this has not happened in Macedonia says former Minister Prof. Rizvan Sulejmani, but decentralization in Macedonia has come as a result of pressure from outside, and not by the real assessment of the state need for decentralization of power.

After the armed conflict in the Republic of Macedonia between the Macedonian and Albanian community, first steps took place in the establishment of the decentralization strategy that aimed to approximate the conflict on the one hand and on the other the fulfillment of political goals, which included - the reintegration of Albanian minority in Macedonia and their territorial organization - said professor Rizvan Sulejmani.

Ohrid Agreement specifies even more that in order to have a functional decentralization in the Republic of Macedonia, it should be based on two main principles and in full compliance with the European Charter: the delivery of municipal services to citizens and political principle or representative where the majority community decides to certain territory, but there are significant delays in the full implementation of this agreement stressed ex-minister.

According to the law on local governance and territorial division law in the Republic of Macedonia, there are 124 municipalities.