NALAS Members' Presidents Meeting in Budva, 27-28 June 2008
Presidents and executives of NALAS Member Associations met in Budva on 27-28 June 2008 to discuss the role of Local Government Associations in negotiating better fiscal policies with their central government authorities. The Minister of Finance of Montenegro, Mr Igor Luksic and the Minister of Interior and Public Administration, Mr Jusuf Kalamperovic were guest speakers. The NALAS members presidents endorsed the draft municipal negotiation, which is the first product of the NALAS Task Force on Fiscal Decentralization led by the Bulgarian Association NAMRB. They shared their experiences in budget negotiations and developed several recommendations for follow up activities.
The draft material provides guidelines for associations to enter into effective negotiations. There is also a list of proposals for changes in the legislation which need to take place to improve the position of Associations in the negotiation process.
CONCLUSIONS - RECOMENDATIONS
NALAS Members’ Presidents, present at the meeting on budget negotiations held in Budva on 27-28 June 2008, agreed on the following:
- The Presidents of NALAS Member Associations endorse the draft document and recommendations on Municipal Budget Negotiations produced by the Task Force on Fiscal Decentralisation, lead by NAMRB. All NALAS members will use the proposed recommendations, with the necessary adjustments to specific circumstances of individual countries;
- In those countries where the adequate legal framework does not exist, the process of amending the laws should start immediately, in order to ensure the participation of Local Governments Associations (LGAs) in budget negotiations. Additionally, a Memorandum of Understanding that regulates in more details the process of negotiations, should be signed between LGA and the Ministry of Finance, as well as with the Parliament. NALAS recommendations for draft amendments and MoU should be used;
- LGAs have to overcome any differences among their members and to formulate common positions. In that way, the Associations will build the necessary trust with its membership;
- The Negotiation Team of the LGA has to have a clear mandate and to represent common positions on behalf of all municipalities, not the position of their own municipality;
- The roles of LGAs and the Ministry of Local Self-Government should be clearly defined and divided, since only the associations can speak on behalf of the municipal interests;
- The capacities of LGAs as well as of municipalities should be strengthened, in order to be able to conduct municipal budget negotiations with central government;
- All LGAs should have their own databases that would comprise all relevant data, including budgets of all municipalities in their country. The LGA analytical capacity is a precondition for effective negotiations;
- The associations should actively involve media in the process of budget negotiations and use them to get support of the public;
- Budget negotiations should finish by signing the Protocol of agreements and disagreements with the Ministry of Finance.