The NGO Info-centre, in cooperation with the Women’s Organization from Strumica, prepared the study “Local level capacities to absorb and programme IPA Funds - Case Study: Municipality of Tetovo”.
This analytical report is a part of a series of case-studies that aim to map the existing capacities to use and programme IPA funds at the local level, in the municipalities of Bitola, Tetovo, Strumica and the City of Skopje. In order to facilitate increased involvement of local actors in decision-making mechanisms related to the EU accession process, we assess and offer recommendations for increased involvement of municipalities and local civil society organisations from Skopje, Polog, Pelagonija and Southeast Planning Region in programming, monitoring and implementation of IPA2 funds.
The main characteristic of the general assessment of the performance of Tetovo Municipality regarding its capacities to use and programme IPA funds to serve local development priorities is the low level of utilisation of available funds. That is due to the passive and strategically unfocused approach.
Also, the set strategic framework of the Tetovo Municipality partially refers to the potentials to use EU funds for local development. Strategic goals are in line with the goals of EU’s IPA programme, which are prerequisite for absorption. The complete absence of well-defined measures and activities to increase the utilisation and absorption of external funds to serve the needs of local development is a cause of concern.
Also, the lack of continuity of the strategic direction to build the necessary capacities makes the already unfavourable position in terms of utilisation of the limited human resources and experience, which have serious effect on the absorption of EU funds, much more difficult.
The existing models of cooperation with the stakeholders on local and national level haven’t yielded any significant results. The promotion of benefits from Tetovo’s participation in EU’s IPA programmes, as well as the improvement of models of cooperation with CSOs in the design and implementation of strategic development initiatives has been stagnating.
It should be noted that, at this time, Tetovo Municipality has the necessary expertise and experience, in spite of limited staffs of SLED and DIC. The existing potential and dedication need to be improved and put in service of effective and efficient local economic development.
The Municipality of Tetovo doesn’t exclude the CSOs as useful partners in preparation and implementation of projects in the framework of EU programmes. At this time, there is no systemized approach and cooperation between the municipal administration and civil society organisations, and the municipal administration has not appointed a contact person for citizen activists. The cooperation has been reduced to ad hoc activities and the annual programme for funding of programmes of public interest that may be implemented by CSOs.
Activists, too, are unanimous in the view that partnership is necessary and needs to be built constantly. An opinion prevails that the municipal administration, so far, lacks the preparedness to cooperate with the civil sector, so, they advocate preparation of a new Strategy that will prescribe measures and activities for improvement of the mutual cooperation.
The activists believe that the municipal administration and the CSOs should join forces to cooperate in preparation of project proposals that would apply for IPA funding. Such a partnership would be beneficial for both sides. For the civil society organisations, among other things, it will mean that the Municipality will help secure the necessary co-financing for the projects. The key challenges faced by the civil society organisations in Tetovo are related to the limited financial sustainability opportunities and securing co-financing for the EU projects, as well as the lack of adequate human resources for their further development.
The existing strategic framework of the Municipality of Tetovo needs to be further elaborated into concrete measures and activities that would lead to increased utilisation of funds made available by the European Union. The municipal administration needs to create and implement continuous and systemic promotion of benefits from participation in EU’s IPA programmes, both for the Municipality and for the public enterprises, CSOs, the business sector and the citizens in general.
The access to IPA funds implies undertaking of a series of preparatory steps, integrated into coherent development frameworks that will precisely identify the needs for upgrading of existing capacities. With that goal in mind, the Tetovo Municipality needs to constantly upgrade the knowledge, skills and experience of the municipal administration. At the moment, priority areas for upgrading are: Informing the municipal administration with the details of EU’s programmes and funds; project management and implementation of IPA projects (at basic and advanced levels); introduction to and application of PRAG procurement procedures; financial management; communication and promotion of project results; public advocacy and creation of evidence-based policies.
The capacities for utilisation and programming of IPA funds on local level needs to be adequately systemized and in service of the strategic development priorities of the Municipality. Therefore, an efficient internal system needs to be put in place, together with proper organisational set-up, adequate human resources and mandate to follow, monitor and upgrade within the framework of SLED and DIC, or in a new specialized project department.
To improve the cooperation with the CSOs, the Municipality needs to establish a two-way dialogue with the civil sector, establish a department of cooperation with the CSOs and appoint a person for communication with civic activists. A new strategy for cooperation with and support for CSOs needs to be prepared. The preparation and the implementation of the strategy need to be inclusive with direct and continuous participation of civil society organisations. The existing Programme for support for CSOs needs to incorporate a clearly defined system for selection, monitoring and evaluation, while supported projects need to correspond to the strategic priorities of the Municipality.
The Municipality needs to stimulate partnerships with CSOs under the auspices of the IPA programmes and to support the sustainability of the civil sector. The Municipality needs to develop models of inclusion of CSOs in the design and implementation of local development measures.
Full text of the analysis: Local level capacities to absorb and programme IPA Funds – Case Study: Municipality of Tetovo
This study was prepared within the project “Local Consultative Mechanism for IPA2″ funded by the European Union.