Macedonian municipalities are meeting only 27% of the indicators for financial transparency, 12 of them haven’t published their budget on their official web pages and only 10 out of 81 municipality have prepared a civil budget for 2021. These are some of the results from the Openness Index published by Metamorphosis Foundation as part of the USAID project for increasing civic Engagement. The research of the municipalities was implemented from 1 June to 15th of July 2021, and it encompassed all 80 LSG and the City of Skopje.
Regarding the financial transparency, with its research, the Metamorphosis Foundation concluded that the municipalities should be publishing more data and information about the budget and the spending of public assets since it contributes to lowering the corruption, including a securing an effective participation of the citizens in the budgeting processes.
It was stated that the access to and the visibility of financial information (budgets, annual financial statements, financial reports and public procurement) is a legal obligation on part of the municipalities and public enterprises, but not all of them have met this obligation. The results from this research shows that the municipalities aren’t publishing data about salaries of public officials and reimbursements for members of the municipality’s Council.
When it comes to financial transparency the municipality of Karposh has the best results (58%) while the following municipalities were ranked the lowest: Tearce, Saraj, Studenichani, Sopishte, Probishtip, Vrapchiste and Arachinovo. These municipalities haven’t published any data about their financial operations during the research period.
As a municipality with the best results, the Karposh municipality stated for Meta.mk, in the past several years a lot was invested in the budgetary transparency starting from the creation of the Citizen budget up to publishing budgetary documents in an open format on their website.
“To all of these researches and rankings that are done about the municipalities we aren’t looking at these as a control over our work and an evaluation whether we are good and band but how our work is easing the obtainment of people’s rights. Each new ranking is motivating us to be better,” explains the municipality of Karposh.
They are saying that the published research by the Metamorphosis Foundation is motivating them to be even more open and to promote the transparency in each segment for the local community.
Regarding the Civil budget, the municipality of Karposh stressed that it is important for every municipality to have one, because not every citizen is an expert and is trained to read the budget in its traditional form. This municipality is encouraging other local self-governments to follow their example, stressing that it is important for the citizens to know what the budgetary assets are spent on.
Meta.mk contacted the municipality of Probishtip as well, which during this year was declared as one of the lowest ranked in the sub-category of financial transparency.
In their replies local authorities in Probishtip state that the publishing of financial documents was never a problem in their municipality, but the problem was that this data wasn’t placed at a visible place at municipality’s official web site but in the section of financial issues.
“We started an initiative to redesign the page with the goal to be more visible for all citizens,” said the municipality of Probishtin to Meta.mk.
The municipality of Probishtip stated that the Civil budget has been published in the form of a charts on their web page, but for better informing of the citizens they are prepared to make their data available with graphics and illustrations.
“We have Budget presentations, quarterly reports, annual financial statements and other changes and additions to the budget that are recorded and published by the local TV Protel and is also directly broadcasted by the local Eko radio. This way, all of the citizens are informed in detail about all discussions and decisions that are adopted by the Council,” an all of the decisions and reports are additionally published by the Municipality of Probishtip’s Official Gazette, published at the municipality’s web page.
Metamorphosis Foundation reminds that over 31 units of local self-government have supported the Declaration for Openness, Accountability, and Transparency of the local self-government in North Macedonia that is obliging them to monitor and meet the principles of openness. They are also obliged to take all activities for continuous improvement of their policies of transparency and inclusion of citizens in the decision making processes.
They stated that the openness of the units of the local self-government represents a key condition for democracy.