MAYORS AND KOSOVO GOVERNMENT DISCUSS THE BUDGET REVIEW PROCESS



By: Genc Namani

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At the request of the Association of Kosovo Municipalities, an urgent meeting was held today between the Mayors and the Government of Kosovo.
In this meeting, the review of municipal budgets in the process of budget review, the economic and budgetary situation as a result of the Pandemic Covid-19 and the Economic Recovery Package was debated.

The meeting was attended by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Government Mr. Besnik Tahiri and the Minister of Finance Mrs Hykmete Bajrami, whereby apart from the Mayors present were also Deputy Mayors and Municipal Directors for Budget and Finance.

On behalf of the Government of the Republic of Kosovo, the meeting was opened by Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Tahiri, who stated that as a Government we have gladly accepted this meeting for inter-institutional coordination in the process of budget review and other issues related to budget and economy in our country.

The Minister of Finance, Mrs. Hykmete Bajrami, in her speech in front of the Mayors, said that since we are in the process of reviewing the state budget, we should emphasize that we are in a very unfavorable budget situation due to pandemic Covid-19. A situation in which Kosovo has probably not been in the last 20 years. She emphasized that according to the estimates of local and international experts, as a result of this pandemic we will have less budget funds somewhere around 250 million euros. She added that out of 180 million euros in the Emergency Fiscal Package, about 60 million euros have been spent so far. Therefore, in this review, we want to inform the municipalities that there will be no budget cuts for municipalities or capital investments. However, in this process we must understand each other as budget organizations in order to reduce the economic consequences of this pandemic.

On the other hand, the Mayors praised the efforts and readiness of the Government and Minister Bajrami to consult with the municipalities in this process. They expressed understanding for the budgetary and economic situation in which we are facing and which may accompany us in the future.

However, the discussions of the mayors initially required that some issues be redefined in terms of budget and payments as the municipalities are also in unfortunate financial position due to some decisions of various Ministries such as the Collective Agreement of the Ministry of Health and of the Ministry of Education who without consulting have charged the municipal budget. Also, the representatives of the local government mentioned the problems with procedures of public procurement at this time, non-signing of contracts without commitment of funds, centralized contracts for various services and supplies, non-payment of a part of health workers. An issue was also raised for the projects signed by the ministries to which decisions are taken on the reallocation of funds without prior consultation with beneficiary municipalities of these joint projects.
The Mayors welcomed the Economic Recovery Package and expressed their readiness to work closely with the Government to complete it so that this package will mitigate the economic and financial issues in our country.

The Government of Kosovo and the Mayors agreed to address only the issues that are urgent at this time, especially the projections in the budget review and the requests of the municipalities in this regard. While this coordination between these two levels of governing institutions will continue for other topics especially for the process of economic recovery and change of legal acts which will affect the best budgetary performance of municipalities in the future.