Good local governance in South Caucasus
Title: Strong, local governance in South Caucasus
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), European Union (EU), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (DEZA), United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
Country: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia
Lead executing agency: Ministry of Territorial Administration and Development (MTAD), Armenia; Centre of Work with the Municipalities and State Committee for Family, Women and Children, Azerbaijan; Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructure (MRDI) and Ministry of Finance (MoF), Georgia
Overall term: 2017 to 2020
Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia have all ratified the European Charter of Local Self-Government of the Council of Europe (CoE) and have accordingly committed to strengthen local self-governance and local democracy, as well as to create the necessary legal and institutional frameworks. The challenges regarding good local governance are similar in the three countries. The local self-governance in the three countries is weak or underdeveloped and municipalities only insufficiently fulfil the principles of good local governance, such as transparency, citizen orientation, participation and accountability.
Municipalities in the South Caucasus are able to better fulfil their tasks in line with the principles of good governance.
The program is based on a multi-level-approach in order to have a systematic and structural effect. Support for municipalities during the piloting phase of new programmes and instruments interlinked with the advisory services of partners at the national level. The programme is working in three output areas:
- Modernisation of municipal administration
- Municipal and regional development
- Joint cross-country learning
Across all three countries, the project is building directly on previous results. New procedures for local and regional development and local financial management have been successfully advanced and introduced both in pilot municipalities and country-wide. The resulting insights and experiences have been integrated into the ongoing developments of legal and institutional framework. The same applies to the modernisation of local administrations: Citizen offices and e-governance are contributing to modernised and transparent municipal administrative structures.
In Armenia, support is being provided for the adjustment of central steering and management processes to align these with the new requirements of the territorial reform. The municipal administrations are further modernised by the establishment of citizen offices and local branches, as well as the streamlining of processes and the introduction of innovative IT systems. As a result, already 30 per cent of the citizens outside of the capital receive municipal services from one place. Moreover, processing times have been significantly reduced. The project is being co-financed in Armenia by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (DEZA).
In Azerbaijan, 80 pilot municipalities are being supported by means of a straightforward, software-driven method to ensure the adoption of a systematic and transparent approach to the budgetary cycle - from its development through to its completion. Advisory services aimed at increasing revenues generated from property and ownership tax in partner municipalities has led to a 50 per cent increase in tax income. According to the surveys conducted, these regions have also seen a significant improvement in willingness to pay tax. The economic region of Ganja-Gazakh is also receiving support of the co-financing initiative by the EU for rural and regional development.
In Georgia, the project supports the government in its efforts to balance the differences between the dynamic urban centres and remote rural areas by implementing measures for regional development. The project also advises on effective planning procedures to enable municipalities to participate in state-level strategic processes and investment decisions, in order to achieve proper needs-based results at local level. As a result, multi-year development strategies have been prepared, which are implemented in line with annual action plans. These action plans are coordinated at the municipal, regional and central levels and provide a transparent basis for financing work from the regional development fund.
In the cross-country exchange, the countries rely jointly on best practices. For example, the support of about 100 women in local politics in Azerbaijan as well as the Georgian experience of territorial reform and its relevance for Armenia. The Cities' Network South Caucasus has a significant role in enabling such a regional exchange, within which both German and South Caucasian municipalities are able to share their experience and insight.