Belgrade, 13th December – At a conference dedicated to improving the governance and economic planning of local governments, five Serbian municipalities presented their first development plans prepared in keeping with the new Law on the Planning System. Representatives of the municipalities of Bački Petrovac, Kuršumlija, Mali Zvornik, Petrovac na Mlavi and Sjenica shared their experiences from the process of preparing the development plan, as well as the analysis of the situation in their municipalities, which preceded the preparation of the development plan. The plans are a part of the cooperation between the United National Development Programme (UNDP) and these five Serbian municipalities, and also with the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM), with the support of the Government of the Slovak Republic.

Marianna Macášková, a representative of the Ministry of Finance of the Slovak Republic, expressed her great pleasure over the fact that the presented development plans would provide examples to be followed by other municipalities in Serbia, which had yet to embark on the planning process, in accordance with the new Law. She announced that the Slovakian programme of assistance to the development process would continue until 2023; apart from investments in the development of governance capacity, the programme would also provide support to infrastructural projects at the municipal level.

Representatives of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Standing Conference of Towns and Municipalities (SCTM) also spoke of the challenges that all Serbian municipalities were faced with, which particularly influenced the planning of the social and economic development of local government units, first of all, bad demographic indicators, the lowering of the percentage of able-bodied population members and the movement of young able-bodied people to major city centres or to foreign countries. An aggravating factor for the local administrations is the ban on employment, which has had a negative influence on the chances of, first of all underdeveloped municipalities, to attract adequately qualified staff and to improve the quality of the services that they provide to their citizens.

The presentation of the development plans of the municipalities of Bački Petrovac, Kuršumlija, Mali Zvornik, Petrovac na Mlavi and Sjenica officially brought to a close the project “Support for improving governance and economic planning at the local level for accelerating the implementation of SDGs in the republic of Serbia”, which is financed by the Government of the Slovak Republic, and is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme in cooperation with the Standing Conference of Town and Municipalities of Serbia.

The aim of the project was to help the improvement of financial management and control in underdeveloped local government units, to strengthen the capacities of local administrations when it came to defining project proposals and submitting requests for financing from EU funds, and also to provide support to preparing development plans for the 2020 -2027 period, in accordance with the new Law on the Planning System.

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