Discussion Forum in Shkodër: TAR-Challenges and recommendations for implementation

European Movement in Albania (EMA) in cooperation with Municipality of Shkodër, in the framework of the initiative supported by National Endowment for Democracy (NED): Building bridges – a new cooperation culture between local institutions and their communities, organised on 16 June 2017 at the city of Shkodër a structured discussion forum on the main themes related to the Territorial – Administrative Reform (TAR).

The activity was moderated by Mr. Gledis Gjipali, Executive Director of the European Movement in Albania (EMA). In his opening speech, Mr. Gjipali emphasized the fruitful and continuous cooperation between Shkodra Municipality and the European Movement in Albania, and how these initiatives undertaken by EMA are in direct service of the municipality and the citizens. He also expressed his commitment to the continuation of such initiatives.

Ms. Mona Xhexhaj, Project Coordinator of EMA spoke about the innovations and problems of the Reform. Ms. Xhexhaj explained the process while some of the functions and responsibilities will be transferred from the central level of administration to the local one, such as : road administration; pre-school education and non-teaching administration of pre-university education (opening of kindergartens and school maintenance); Management of forests (creation of appropriate structures) etc. Then Ms. Xhexhaj invited Mayor of Shkodra, Ms. Voltana Ademi, to introduce to the guests a detailed presentation of TAR .

Ms. Voltana Ademi, Mayor of Shkodra, made a summary of the changes made in the municipality. Ms. Ademi said that Shkodra Municipality has already been digitized, enabling citizens to access the municipality’s official website for any information. This online system enables all citizens to calculate the taxes fee that they might have to pay to the municipality. This is considered as an action that increases awareness among people. During her presentation Ms. Ademi said that there were problems with the law on “Local Government Financing” because there were no consultations with municipalities and the remarks that were made, weren’t taken in consideration. In the context of improving this relationship, a Consultative Council has been established between the central and local government. Its main purpose will be to create discussion forum on improving the legislation that governs domestic affairs. Ms. Ademi said that with the new law, the municipalities have more procedural and administrative responsibilities, which should be accompanied by a new increased budget. At the end Ms. Ademi stressed that the establishment of community structures is very difficult due to the fact law is not very clear and it is not a structure that the citizens are familiar with.

Ms. Holta Ymeri, Expert on Environmental Issues and European Integration based her discussion on Aahrus Convention and how  this convention gives the rights to citizens to be informed and involved in environmental issues. The main points of Ms. Ymeri speech were that It is regrettable that we are so left behind in the field of environmental protection , while The problem of waste management is not addressed properly. Although integrated waste management is an innovation that comes with a new law on the other hand, due to the fact that the Municipality is charged with more responsibilities, this should be followed with an increase of the budget for this particular issue.

  1. Donations need to be increased in order to have more trained people in this area.

   2. The citizen should use the rights and obligations, that he has, in order to obtain the right environmental information; and to use the right to be present in environmental decision-making meetings.

At the end of the meeting a discussion was held with interested participants in which more than 20 NGO-s representatives, academic staff and other interest groups were present and conducted their questions on topics related to the good administration of daily living problems in the city and administrative areas. Information Manual on TAR and leaflets were distributed during the activity.