We can always count on NALED’s support for our development projects. NALED will continue to be an integral part of expert groups that will analyse and propose changes to laws regulating the development of local governments.
As we were concerned about the prospect of a reduced city budget, the City of Užice was one of the most active participants in the dialogue about amendments to the Law on Local Government Finance. There was a risk of our current budget revenue being cut annually by a quarter, which is close to 450 million Dinars. This would in practice do the most damage to local governments with fully regulated and above average economic activity.
Užice has been a NALED member since the Alliance’s inception. How important is this for you?
I am very satisfied with the fact that both the City of Užice and I personally have been part of NALED since its very beginning. In the last 10 years, NALED has earned the reputation of being a respectable association that has achieved serious results. Unlike many similar organisations in Serbia, NALED has always promoted new and important measures, tackled burning issues and engaged experts of varying profiles to resolve them.
Like all other local governments we have several development projects and we believe that NALED will help us with their implementation, primarily through enabling contacts with state institutions, foreign embassies to Serbia, chambers of commerce and potential investors
What do you think of the new Law on Local Government Finance?
In a valiant effort to prevent the adoption of the wrong amendments to the Law on Local Government Finance, we turned to NALED on several occasions. We firmly believed that NALED was the right organisation to contact. Together with SKGO, NALED played a crucial role in persuading the ministry to abandon its initial amendments to the Law and to adopt amendments that were much more realistic and more acceptable to local governments.
I understand that it is very important to come up with a sustainable financing format for towns and municipalities in the next few years. This can be done only if we accept the fact that towns and municipalities are key partners in this endeavour. To start with, we need to change the negative image that local authorities have in the media, which portray them as irrational and hindering state reforms. For the most part this is simply not true. We also need to be cautious in our intention to reduce charges and fees borne by businesses.
Local governments still have to per-form their duties and for that, they need stable funding sources. It is not realistic to expect towns and municipalities in Serbia to continue funding themselves mainly from money collected from property tax.
Local governments and ministries need to join forces to come up with the best possible proposals – under the watchful eye of NALED, as always.