In North Macedonia there are municipalities that have two official websites or have a website which is not registered with the gov.mk domain. On the other hand, the websites of some municipalities, like the municipality of Saraj, aren’t meeting the cyber security standards. Even 12 of the country’s local self-government units didn’t publish their budgets on their official websites. The majority of these websites don’t contain the basic information determined by law, and the average openness of the municipalities in 2021 was only 25%.

This is just a small part of the results that the research conducted by the Metamorphosis Foundation has come up with, as part of the USAID’s “Increasing Civic Engagement in the Digital Agenda” – ICEDA” project , as part of which the evaluation of the condition of the good governance in the units of local self-government in North Macedonia for 2021 was conducted. The research of the municipalities took place between 10.06.2021 and 5.07 2021 and it encompassed all 80 self-government units and the city of Skopje.

“According to the Openness Index, the municipalities of Ohrid (51%) Vasilevo (48%) and Kochani (48%) have the best results for 2021s, while the lowest-ranked was the municipality of Plasnica (3%),”Metamorphosis Foundation informed.

The research for 2021 has shown that most of the municipalities aren’t working enough to meet the openness. The results in various areas show that the self-governments are implementing low standards for consultations, transparency, monitoring and control of their operations.

Some of the municipalities aren’t updating all language versions of the web pages while most of the municipalities didn’t publish any document (a strategy, policy, procedure) regarding openness and transparency. The municipalities also should invest more in the education of their personnel regarding these issues.

The research that was implemented on the basis of the Transparency Index showed that the municipalities meet 45% of the indicators encompassed in the sub-area of organization information.

Also, the conclusion on the basis of the results is that the municipalities aren’t publishing any or minimal information about the work of the public enterprises and their councils’ work.

“Among most of the municipalities, the only information available about public enterprises is a link to their web pages where there aren’t any documents nor information of benefit for the citizens,” said the Metamorphosis Foundation.

Additionally, the number of 21 municipalities that didn’t publish any information related to the decision-making process is causing concern. This is a significant area that should be improved, since with greater access to information about the decisions made by the Council and the mayor, the timely notifications about their work, the citizens are getting an opportunity to be included in the process of adoption of public policies on a local level.

The research showed that the Macedonian municipalities are working too little on collecting and publishing data about the policies’ efficiency, their degree of implementation and influence.

Regarding the financial transparency, the units of local self-governance are meeting only 27% of the indicators,  where the municipality of Karposh has shown the best results (58%) while the municipalities of Tearce, Saraj, Studenichani, and Sopishtewhile didn’t publish any information about their financial operations during the period when the research was conducted.

At the same time, only 10 municipalities have published civil budgets, which is preventing the citizens, in a simple manner, through graphics and illustrations, to understand the budget. At the same time, the municipalities aren’t publishing data about salaries of officials and reimbursements for members of the municipality’s Council.

The results show that the municipalities are publishing a part of the documents (data sets) that is their legal obligation, but not all of them. Still, for the first time this year, the municipalities of Ohrid, Kavadarci, Prilep, Vasilevo, Zrnovci, Aerodrom, Shtip, Gjorche Petrov, Vevchani, Želino, Kumanovo, and Rosoman, published data sets on their web pages in an open format.

“Even though the number of municipalities isn’t big (12) this is a significant improvement in the work of these self-governance units and a major step forward in their efforts for promotion of transparency. The national portal for open data, data.gov.mk, up until today contains 281 sets of data published by 57 subjects, and only 3 of them are ELS,” Metamorphosis Foundation says.