Participatory budgeting in Belarus: checking of possibilities for decentralised cooperation

NGO “Lev Sapieha Foundation” expert in public finances Yuri Krivorotko prepared the paper that aims to develop technique, ways, and relevant tools which lead to participatory budgeting in Belarus. The author also holds the position of the Head of economics and accounting department at the Belarusian Institute of Jurisprudence, doctor of economic sciences degree, professor position.

Most post-soviet countries are facing the challenge of improving the functioning of their sector of public administration. Theoretically, two contrary types of reaction to this challenge exist – centralization vs. decentralization. Both of them have advantages and disadvantages. In Belarus, the preference is likely to be given to the first one. But does it mean that there are no other options? We suppose that the answer is “yes, there are”. Decentralisation involving engine of inter-jurisdictional competition could provide a sound solution for public sector efficiency issue avoiding many problems associated with the growing power of the central government.

The process of decentralisation of local communities and the participative approach is one of the most challenging ones of these last years in the post-soviet countries and Belarus as well. Thanks to decentralised cooperation, the mutual cooperation between Civil Society and Local Governments occur and it is possible to develop projects and activities that support local democracy and economic and social development. They are also creating strong links between communities and citizens, creating dialogue and trust.

One of the ways of decentralised cooperation is the public participation in the local budget process or participatory budgeting where the citizens and active groups of the population are setting up the local budget and include in it their projects. Thanks to participatory budgeting, citizens have the right to say how part of the public resources should be spent. Participatory budgeting is a tool for further civic education which leads not only to a higher awareness of public issues and related policy making.

The paper investigates whether local participatory budgeting is an approach to reach the fiscal decentralization in countries with rigid centralized vertical power as it is Belarus. The paper analyses the results of the Visegrad group countries’ survey in the forms and techniques of participatory budgeting and presents the advantages and shortcomings of this process. The main determinants of the interest, awareness, and participation of citizens in participatory budgeting processes are explored as well. The study’s results in Belarus have shown that the main type of participatory budgeting is a re-granting model based on EU funds presented for Belarus. The developed ability of participatory budgeting within the re-granting projects in Belarus can testify to opportunities of transfer of its experience on the local budget process by citizens on the base of the participation principle. Checking of possibilities for participatory budgeting in local budget process the paper explores.

Krivorotko. Participatory budgeting in Belarus - checking of possibilities for decentralised cooperation

Condolences on the occasion of the death of Mr Paweł Adamowicz – Gdańsk President

Members of the NGO “Lev Sapieha Foundation” give their deep condolences on the occasion of the death of Mr Paweł Adamowicz – Gdańsk President, an outstanding representative of contemporary Polish society, who in his daily work as head of the city for two decades was working to create a new image of Poland as one of the leaders of European development, success and prosperity.

Mr Paweł Adamowicz did much to ensure that each of his compatriots felt their importance for the civil society, their involvement in the improvement of society, and was ready to take responsibility for decision making and execution.

We offer our condolences to the citizens of Poland and support of all those who feel a need and a willingness to continue the work of Mr Paweł Adamowicz and the struggle for the democratic ideals that were the foundation, and the meaning, of his life.

35th session of the Congress: integrity and ethical behaviour of local and regional elected representatives

The members of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe met in Strasbourg, France, from 6 to 8 November 2018 at their 35th session on the theme of “Integrity and ethical behaviour of local and regional elected representatives”.

Continue reading “35th session of the Congress: integrity and ethical behaviour of local and regional elected representatives”

Three days in Belarus to promote good governance and local development

The Eastern Partnership Coordinator of ALDA, Mr. Alexandru Coica, went to Belarus for a 3-day visit where he took part in several events.

Currently, there are more than 10 projects implemented all over Belarus thanks to the support of ALDA. The main objective is to engage citizens in local processes in order to improve and develop their communities and establish a constructive dialogue with local and regional authorities for a better implementation of local policies. Continue reading “Three days in Belarus to promote good governance and local development”

TERRITORIAL PUBLIC SELF-GOVERNMENT BODIES IN BELARUS An Analytical Summary

Intensifying of citizen self-organization and participation in local self-government has been gaining relevance under the conditions in which the Belarusian society has been developing. Further improvement of the legal and organizational framework for local self-government is a fundamental factor in promoting the role of local self-government bodies in the delivery of public services.

The Belarusian Constitution (Article 117) provides for territorial public self-government as a legal and organizational form of citizen involvement in local self-government. This form of engagement in local governance was first set forth in law and began to develop in Belarus in October of 1989. However, due to a number of causes, territorial public self-government has failed to develop on a large scale or realize its capabilities.

The aim of this study is to research the evolution, formation and functioning of territorial public self-government bodies (TPSGBs), identify problems and factors inhibiting the exercise of citizens’ rights to self-government, and define a strategy for the effective and sustainable development of local communities and territorial public self-government bodies they form.

Download the study via the link.

KTOS

Policy Brief on Possible Directions of Cooperation

Policy Brief on Possible Directions of Cooperation between the Council for Cooperation of Local Self-Government Bodies under the Council of the Republic of the Belarusian National Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe was prepared by the experts of NGO “Lev Sapieha Foundation” in 2009.

Download the paper here.

On Local Government and Self-Government in the Republic of Belarus

The Law on Local Government and Self-Government in the Republic of Belarus.

Passed by the House of Representatives on December 11, 2009

Endorsed by the Council of the Republic on December 17, 2009

This Law determines the legal and organizational basis of local government and self-government in the Republic of Belarus.

The translation is not an official.

Download the translation of the Law On Local Government and Self-Government Law in the Republic of Belarus.

the Law On Local Government and Self-Government Law in the Republic of Belarus

Local Self-Government in Belarus

The publication is an overview of the materials of a number of studies in the field of public administration and local self-government in the Republic of Belarus, carried out by the expert group of NGO «Lev Sapieha Foundation» (Minsk, Belarus) during 2015−2016.

These studies of Belarusian specialists are part of the international programme «Strengthening Institutional Frameworks for Local Governance in the Eastern Partnership Countries», in the framework of the Programmatic Cooperation of the European Union and the Council of Europe.

The publication is addressed to a wide range of readers — deputies of local Councils and specialists of government bodies, activists of public associations and citizen initiatives, teachers of social sciences and students, as well as to all who are interested in local self-government and citizen’s participation at the local level.

NGO «Lev Sapieha Foundation» thanks to the European Union for helping to publish this brochure.

The content of this publication is the responsibility of its authors. The content of this publication does not reflect the position of the European Union.

Download the publication by the link.

NGO “Lev Sapieha Foundation” presented its proposals at the seminar on actual issues of local self-government

Miraslau Kobasa, Chairman of the Board, took part at the seminar on September 12, 2018, and presented proposals on local-self-government development in the Republic of Belarus and possible directions of cooperation with the Council of Europe.

Proposals on local self-government development

  1. To analyze Belarusian legislation on local self-government on the issue of its relevance to the principles and norms of the European Charter together with the experts of the Congress of local and regional authorities of the Council of Europe.
  2. To design and adopt the Concept of local self-government development in the Republic of Belarus based on the principles of the European Charter of Local Self-Government as a strategy document. The key points are decentralization, the principle of subsidiarity, competency, community property, administrative-territorial devision, associations of local self-governments, the staff training scheme for local self-governmental bodies, local communities of citizens, the forms of citizen participation in decision making on local level, etc.
  3. To define the steps and mechanisms of implementation of the Concept and to assign responsibility for its implementation.
  4. To develop the legislation on local self-government with the aim to adopt it to the European Charter taking into account the level of community development, local traditions and financial and human capacity.
  5. Preparation to the assignment and ratification of the European Charter;
  6. Conduction of educational and informational activities for the experts and civil servants, deputies, representatives of the civil society organizations and mass media.

Possible directions of cooperation with the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

  • Analysis of Belarusian legislation,
  • Educational activities (skills development of Belarusian experts and civil servants, seminars, conferences, internships, consultations),
  • Establishment of associations of local self-governments (including National Association),
  • Participation of Belarusian specialists and youth in the events and projects of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

The presentation is available by the link.

Round table in Minsk: “The Congress is ready to contribute to the Council of Europe Action Plan for Belarus”

At the opening of the Round table held in Minsk, Belarus, on 12 September 2018, Congress President Gudrun MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM welcomed this initiative as “a good opportunity to establish the groundwork for a better decentralization in Belarus and to strengthen our cooperation in the field of local democracy”.

The Congress President presented the European Charter of Local Self-Government, which functions as a kind of “constitution for local authorities”, one of the characteristics of which is its adaptability to European national systems.

“Belarus has already anchored local self-government in its constitution, which demonstrates a political will to establish local self-government in the country. The Congress is ready to contribute to Council of Europe Action Plan for Belarus and to support your country in its next steps towards greater decentralization,” she stated as she addressed the participants.

“Even though the 47 member states of the Council of Europe have ratified the Charter, let us be honest, much remains to be done to improve local self-government in all our countries”, said the Congress President, stressing that through its experience in monitoring the implementation of the Charter, the Congress has identified several recurring issues that need to be improved in this field. “This shows that even if we have reached a certain political maturity, we still need to strengthen our democracies and, to this end, we must develop synergies and learn from each other,” she concluded.

Source: the Council of Europe

Photo: the Council of Europe

High level meetings and round table on local self-government in Belarus

At the invitation of the Belarusian authorities, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe held a round table and several high-level meetings with the Belarusian authorities in Minsk on 11 and 12 September 2018.

The President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities, Gudrun MOSLER-TÖRNSTRÖM met the President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander LUKASHENKO, as well as the President of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly Mikhail MIASNIKOVICH on 11 September 2018. She also participated in a seminar organised with students and professors from the Minsk Academy of Public Administration.

On the same day, a seminar brought together Congress members and experts to discuss the situation of local self-government in Belarus, in the light of the European Charter of Local Self-Government. It was opened by the Vice-President of the Congress, Michalis ANGELOPOULOS (Greece, SOC) and the Dean of the Academy of Public Administration, Gennady PALCHIK.

On 12 September, a round table will be devoted to these issues with a view to examining how the principles of the Charter are taken into account in Belarus’ local government system, as well as their practical implementation and future prospects. The role of national associations of local authorities will be presented, in particular, by Leendert VERBEEK (Netherlands, SOC), Chairman of the Congress Monitoring Committee, and cross-border co-operation by Robert Csongor GRUMAN, Vice-President of the Congress. Participants will also discuss several local self-government issues such as the training of local government staff and twinning as a development tool.

Source: Council of Europe
Photo: Council of Europe

Call for mini-projects “TANDEM IV”

“TANDEM IV – Sustainable Cooperation Between NGO and Local Authorities to Support Citizen Participation in Local Self-Government and Local Communities Development in the Republic of Belarus” project is implemented by European Association for Local Democracy – ALDA (hereinafter – ALDA) with the participation of NGO “Lev Sapieha Foundation”.

Deadline for applications – November 15, 2017 (until 24:00, UTC+03:00).

THE AIM OF THE PROJECT
TANDEM IV Project is aimed at engaging and supporting of active participation of citizens in the local problem-solving process through strengthening interaction and cooperation on sustainable development issues between non-governmental organizations and local authorities.

The project is intended to support local communities and civil society organizations development and their interaction with local authorities by providing technical and financial support for mini-projects implementation on local level. Mini-projects will be selected by the open call.

SPECIFIC GOALS

  • To promote active civil society participation in local self-government and local problems solving.
  • To support non-governmental organization in implementation of the projects that are aimed at public interest impression and protecting for sustainable development of the territories.
  • To promote communication, to strength interaction and “best practices” exchange among NGOs, initiative groups of citizens and local authorities.
  • To revive “talaka” heritage (“talaka” is a communal work) and to reduce paternalistic attitudes in the society.

WHO CAN APPLY

  • NGOs,
  • Non-governmental institutions (NSI),
  • Initiative groups of citizens (IGS),
  • Local authorities.

MINI-PROJECTS SUPPORTING PROGRAMS

There are two supporting programs:

PROGRAM A (Partnership projects). Three mini-projects could be supported. The projects should be aimed at sustainable development on local level, at partnership and cooperation with local authorities.

Mini-projects should be implemented by state and non-state actors by the following schemes: NGO+LA, NSI+LA or IGS+LA, that means that direct participation of local authorities is obligatory.
Each of the partnership projects could be supported by max. 10 000 USD.

PROGRAM B (Citizen initiatives). Five mini-projects could be supported. The projects should be targeted at solving local issues and development of cooperation with local authorities.

Mini-projects could be implemented by NGO, NSI or IGS with the LA support.
Each mini-project could be supported by max. 5 400 USD.

MINI-PROJECT DURATION
The term of mini-projects implementation (including the term of their registration) – January 1, 2018 – December 31, 2018.

Find more on Belarusian version of the web-site.

“Public Administration Reform at the Local and Regional Level in the EaP Countries (…)”

This final study report on “Public Administration Reform at the Local and Regional Level in the Eastern Partnership Countries: developments since 2012 in the field of decentralisation and recommendations for the future” is part of the Project ‘Short term high-quality studies to support activities under the Eastern Partnership – HiQSTEP, EuropeAid/132574/C/SER/Multi’, carried out by an international consortium under the leadership of Kantor Management Consultants.
The present study has been carried out to support the activities of Platform 1– “Democracy, Good Governance and Stability” – of the Eastern Partnership. In this regard, it is important to note that promoting good governance and decentralisation reform implementation have been identified as a priority area by the EaP Platform 1 “Democracy, Good Governance and Stability” Work Programme for the period of 2014-2017.
The DG NEAR and DG Regio are the driving forces in cooperation with EaP Countries on this theme. The present study has been implemented by the team under the leadership of Dr Vyacheslav Tolkovanov, Study Team Leader, and composed of Dr Juraj Nemec, Senior International Expert and the following national experts: Valentina Gevorgyan(Armenia), Samir Aliyev (Azerbaijan), Miroslav Kobasa (Belarus), Nelly Dolidze (Georgia), Angela Cascaval (Moldova) and Nataliya Kyrychenko (Ukraine). The overall supervision, quality check and management have been carried out by Przemysław Musiałkowski, Team Leader of the HiQSTEP Project. Sincere thanks go to the national stakeholders in all six countries who provided information through interviews and responses to questionnaires.

Download here.

Local Finance Benchmarking in the Eastern Partnership Countries

Local finance benchmarking (LFB) is a tool designed by the Council of Europe to contribute to improving local financial management and fiscal arrangements for local authorities in all European countries. It is based on two Recommendations of the Committee of Ministers, prepared after consultation with OECD, IMF and the World Bank. This tool has already produced good results in various other countries, such as Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal, Spain and Ukraine. Its implementation started in Eastern Partnership countries under the Council of Europe/European Union Eastern Partnership Programmatic Co-operation Framework for 2015-2017.

This Study was prepared by a team of international and local experts. National chapters of this study come up with concrete recommendations to overcome the existing drawbacks of LFB implementation. The preparation of this study is the first step of the project. It should lead to the preparation of national Benchmarks and their implementation on a pilot basis in 2016. It is expected that, like in most other countries where this tool was implemented, it will produce real-life reforms of local financial management not only in the pilot municipalities but also in other local authorities in the participating countries.

A national policy on promoting LFB and incentives to encourage local governments to reform their financial management practice, when appropriate in the light of the results of the implementation of this
tool are important elements for the success of the reform of financial regulations and practice. Financial management benchmarking, which is not yet widespread in the region, needs to be encouraged by disseminating
success stories from the region and beyond, thus exposing decision-making representatives from both the central and local level to these good practices and creating positive incentives for reforms.

Download the study here.

Source: Council of Europe

Challenges in financial management of Belarus

Financial management in Belarus develops according to the model of economic development oriented on social managing and market economy. Positive tendencies of development of this model substantially were defined by continuous and multilateral cooperation with Russia, deliveries of cheap raw material resources, unlimited credit resources. However, the latest events in the economy of Belarus have connected with restriction of cheap deliveries of hydro carbonic raw materials and credit limitation and as a result failures in policy of the budgetary income and investment policy, frequent inflationary splashes and devaluation processes. They caused in Belarus a serious monetary crisis in 2011. All this called into question ways, means and methods to realize the working model of economic development. Continue reading “Challenges in financial management of Belarus”

Crisis of Belarusian Banking system 2011: Challenges and Problems of Exit

The main purpose of the paper is to show the deep reasons and features of the Belarus banking crisis, anti-recessionary technique and methods of banking management, crisis lessons and the most important to show that it is necessary to do not to allow similar crisis in other transitional countries. The methodology used includes the research of set key banking indicators, data of budgetary indicators, dynamics of inflation indicators, deposition market aggregates, bank assets indicators, balance of payments components, and export indicators. Statistical data for analysis obtained from official sources, such as the State Statistics Committee, National bank, Ministries of Finance, Association of Belarusian banks and online databases of analytical centres working in this field. Analytical toolkits, such as the comparison method, a method of coefficients, index tools, and variations are used and some theoretical assumptions are made.

Download the paper CRISIS OF BELARUSIAN BANKING SYSTEM.

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Information Memo On the Draft Law of the Republic of Belarus «On Local Government and Self-Government in the Republic of Belarus»

The House of Representatives of the Belarusian National Assembly is now considering Belarus’ Draft Law “On Local Government and Self-Government in the Republic of Belarus”.  The draft has been submitted to the parliament by the President of the Republic of Belarus. This draft passed the first reading by the House of Representatives of the National Assembly on June 11, 2009.

The Lev Sapieha Foundation has prepared an information memo on this draft law. It contains an analysis of some conceptual points of the draft and also an analysis of several articles as well as remarks, additions and proposals concerning these conceptual points and articles. This analysis and our vision of the prospects for the development of local self-government in Belarus form the foundation for our conclusions and proposals.

The principles and norms of the European Charter of Local Self-Government (hereinafter referred to as the Charter) are used as a reference point for the analysis. The legislation and experience of local self-government in Russia and other countries neighboring on Belarus have been also taken into consideration.

Download the document here.