A kick-off workshop entitled "Support for Improving Governance and Economic Planning at the Local Level for Accelerating the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the Republic of Serbia", held on February 25 and 26 in Vrnjacka Banja, officially marks the beginning of the project of the same name which is funded by the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic in the amount of 427,000 dollars, and implemented by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP).

The project aims to provide support to selected municipalities (Bački Petrovac, Kuršumlija, Mali Zvornik, Petrovac na Mlavi and Sjenica) to optimize their internal organization for more efficient provision of services to end users. In addition, the project team will provide local governments with support in the economic planning process, assisting in the adoption of new/updating existing local economic development plans.

The official opening of the workshop was attended by the minister without portfolio in charge of population and demographic policy, Slavica Djukic Dejanovic, and the Ambassador of the Slovak Republic to Serbia, Dagmar Repchekova. Minister Dejanovic highlighted, among other things, the commitment of the Government of the Republic of Serbia to Agenda 2030 and the goals of sustainable development and reminded of the funds that the Serbian Government allocates for projects aimed at fostering birth and retention of youths at the local level.

Ambassador Repchekova noted that this is the first project implemented by the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic with local governments and reminded of the measures taken by the Slovak Government to improve the business environment in Slovak municipalities, primarily through support to small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurs.

All selected municipalities, Bački Petrovac excluded, belong to the 4th group of municipalities in terms of the level of their development. Bearing in mind the requirements of the new Law on the Planning System, which requires adoption of the new local economic development plans by 2020, there are major challenges ahead of them, given their level of development, insufficient funds for development activities, as well as inadequate personnel capacities.

By the end of this year, a series of trainings will be organized for the employees in local self-governments in the areas of internal control and internal audit, budgeting, human resources management, project management and procurement and EU rules for ​​procurement procedures within projects. The above activities will help selected municipalities to apply more efficiently for development assistance funds with bilateral donors, as well as with the EU funds.

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