FACT SHEET: Planning and Local Governance Project

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Erald Lamja, USAID Planning and Local Governance Project

CURRENT PROJECT

Planning and Local Governance Project
Duration: January 2012 –September 2019
Budget: $17,582,943
Implementer: Tetra Tech ARD
 

The ability of Albania to establish a system of local governance that meets European standards and practices is paramount to continued progress towards EU membership. A robust local governance system founded on a predictable and equitable financial base, providing essential public services for the benefit of its citizens, and whose officials are freely and democratically elected, will also help Albania meet national-level criteria for EU membership in such areas as financial stability, environmental quality, and political cohesion.

USAID works both at the national policy level and at the local level to promote full acceptance of the principles of decentralized governance, and to disseminate and institutionalize practical and effective methods of and techniques for municipal management. In 2012, USAID’s Planning and Local Government Project (PLGP) entered into formal partnership agreements with 15 local governments to provide technical assistance and training. As a result of territorial reform in 2015, the original 15 partner municipalities were consolidated into thirteen local government units including six model municipalities where we provide more intensive assistance: Tirana, Durres, Fier, Lushnja, Berat, Kuçova, Patos, Vlore, Saranda, Elbasan, Korça, Vora, and Kamza.

PROGRAM AREAS

LOCAL GOVERNANCE ADMINISTRATION

USAID provides technical assistance and on-the-job training to staff in 13 target municipalities and administrative units to improve tax collection; increase own-source revenues; to better manage assets; and to increase the predictability, accuracy, and transparency of budgetary processes through e-government solutions, and to increase citizen participation in local government decision-making. Special focus has been given to information and communication technology (ICT) that will help build e-government solutions. PLGP also assists the selected local governments in raising citizen awareness of local government functions, citizen rights and responsibilities, and citizen participation in local government decision-making.

MANAGEMENT OF MUNICIPAL SERVICES

USAID assists the GoA and local governments to effectively manage and oversee jointly-owned utility companies dealing with services such as water, wastewater, and solid waste management to ensure that laws, policies, procedures, and services are consistent with EU standards and environmental standards in particular. USAID assists selected local governments and water utility supervisory boards in developing skills, defining roles, and building the knowledge needed to effectively manage and oversee jointly owned utility companies dealing with these services.

URBAN AND REGULATORY PLANNING

USAID provides technical assistance to the GOA and five selected local governments in developing skills and knowledge to draft territorial plans in accordance with the Law on Territorial Planning as well as supports civil society groups, businesses, and other NGOs to increase participation in and oversight of territorial planning. USAID is also working with other bilateral donors and the UNDP to provide critical technical expertise, helping the GOA to define and implement its territorial-administrative reform agenda through an inclusive and transparent approach.

ADVOCACY/LEGISLATION

USAID promotes an inclusive dialogue to build a bipartisan consensus on issues of strategic importance to local governments.  Assistance is being provided to GOA, LG representatives, and relevant NGOs/municipal associations to make informed decisions based on inclusive consultations/broad consensus that will result in more equitable distribution of resources and delivery of services; and promotes development of legislation that would legally require such consultations.

STRENGTHEN CIVIC ENGAGEMENT TO PREVENT VIOLENT EXTREMISM

USAID will bolster the positive effects of PLGP’s other components with a special focus on increasing awareness of and resilience to the drivers of radicalization in Albania. USAID will support the GoA’s National Coordinator on CVE in implementing the National Strategy-Countering Violent Extremism (CVE). USAID will support efforts to build awareness of violent extremism by developing and delivering CVE awareness training to local officials and municipal leaders, focused on the role of the municipality in CVE.  USAID aims to establish effective CVE cooperation between Central and Local Government Institutions and Civil Society through CVE Forums in partner municipalities. 

PROMOTE ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PLANNING

Building on previous work on urban planning USAID will provide technical assistance to municipalities as they strive to manage growth and development in compliance with strategic planning instruments. Building upon PLGP’s “Planning Toolkit,” USAID will provide intense coaching and training to execute the process of planning to inspire economic growth. USAID will provide technical assistance to municipalities to increase knowledge and skills required to prepare project proposals, which can then engage financial institutions such as commercial banks or international donor projects, increasing public sector engagement. In addition, USAID will work with municipalities to identify appropriate groups with a focus on the private sector to promote competitiveness and job creation.

RESULTS
  • With USAID assistance PLGP partner municipalities have improved financial administration including tax collection resulting in an increase in collection by 20-30%. The increase was due to ICT tools and training to reduce corruption and error, coupled with tax awareness programs and the training of local officials.
  • USAID helped to draft the National Crosscutting Decentralization and Local Governance Strategy (2015), and the Law on the Organization and Functioning of Local Governments (2016), and at the request of the Minister of Finance, developed a new formula for the distribution of unconditional grants, - the main source of revenue for local governing units (LGU) which will allocate financial resources in a more fair and equitable manner to local governing units.
  • USAID drafted the Law on Local Government Finance - approved in April 2017 - ensuring significant additional resources to local governments (at least 33% more local government revenues than the average of the past five years) and improving the stability of the intergovernmental finance system.
  • USAID established five One-Stop Shops in Korca, Fier, Berat, Saranda, and Roskovec that enable the municipalities to deliver substantially more efficient and responsive administrative services.
  • USAID assisted six local governments and water utilities with the development and implementation of Five-Year Business Plans (2016-2020) aimed at improving commercial performance and the quality of water service.
  • USAID prepared Albania’s first five General Local Territorial Plans (GLTPs) that address the environmental, social, economic, demographic and infrastructural issues municipalities will face in the coming years.

Last updated: July 26, 2018

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