Monitoring the transparency and involvement of citizens in the municipalities of Veles, Kriva Palanka and Negotino, during the KOVID-19 pandemic, showed that local authorities need to strengthen transparency and accountability of their work, especially in the implementation of procedures and spending budget funds.
Municipalities need to work intensively on full digitalization of municipal services and their standardization. They also need to improve the digital literacy of the municipal administration. Municipal websites must be service-oriented and not mainly serve as a promotional tool for local government. They need to be regularly improved and redesigned to provide quality information and services to citizens, as well as be easy to use and search.
Municipalities must introduce and implement mechanisms and practices for intensive digital communication and citizen involvement. Forums, public hearings and consultations with citizens should not only continue, but should be upgraded with new forms and platforms. They must not die as they did this year.
Cooperation and support for local CSOs should be increased. The pandemic should be an incentive to deepen cooperation with the local civil society sector, and not be an excuse to stop support as was the case this year. Municipalities must create or improve programs, policies, and criteria for providing financial support to CSOs. Those policies and procedures must be transparent, accountable and publicly available.
Municipalities should improve and encourage the work of local communities and cooperation with them. As local communities are a basic tool for direct involvement of citizens, municipalities should advocate for legal changes that will improve their status. Municipalities in which there are no local communities (such as in the municipality of Negotino) should start the process of their formation.
The monitoring of the municipalities of Veles, Kriva Palanka and Negotino, during 2020, was realized by the NGO Info-center in cooperation with the civil society organizations Spectar from Kriva Palanka, Aktivo from Veles and SPO KUL from Negotino, within the project “Active citizens and participatory democracy of at the local level “, supported by the international centre” Olof Palme”from Sweden.