By: Genc Namani

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The Association of Kosovo Municipalities held the Annual General Assembly, attended by Mayors and delegates of the Municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo. Mr.Agim Veliu- AKM President opened the Assembly-the highest body of the Association of Kosovo Municipalities and presented before the participants the agenda of the meeting.
The AKM annual General Assembly discussed and reviewed the 2018 work and financial report as well as reviewed the AMK Work Plan for 2019 along with lobbying issues in the interest of Kosovo Municipalities.

During the presentation of the AKM Work Report for 2018, the president Mr. Agim Veliu, stated among other things that “regarding the work of AMK during 2018, in the capacity of AKM President, I would like to briefly present some of the main points achieved by the AKM structures in the service of the interests of the Municipalities, whereas most of them are extensively described in the Draft-Work Report of 2018.

In addition, during 2018, the Association of Kosovo Municipalities has worked hard to represent and protect the interests of municipalities, provide advanced services and improve municipal performance, consolidate and strengthen new AKM structures and good financial performance. These activities are based on the AMK 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, 2018 Annual Plan, on the legislative agenda of the Government and Parliament as well as annual priorities set by the leading structures.

AKM is involved in the Legislative Agenda of the Government of the Assembly of Kosovo as part of the working groups in reviewing draft-laws and other legal acts in the Executive as well as it has participated in several meetings and public hearings of the bodies of the Parliament positions and the interests of the municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo.

AKM has addressed around 129 requests to the central level and the result of incorporation of the requests and recommendations in the interest of municipalities goes to 94 percent of the success.
In this period of lobbying, AKM has been focused on:
1. Draft Law on Allocation for Use and Exchange of Immovable Property of the Municipality;
2. Draft Law on Public Officials;
3. Draft Law on Salaries;
4. Draft Law on Mines and Minerals, and
5. Concept document of the Law on Local Government Finance.
Over the year, AKM maintained regular contacts and communication with municipalities. Overall, 90 different notifications, reports, replies, draft laws, draft regulations, recommendations, draft positions, etc. were sent to municipalities.
In 2018, AKM participated in a large number of meetings of different government working groups and parliamentary committees for the purpose of making remarks, giving suggestions and reviewing draft laws during the legislation review.

Among the large number of lobbying and advocacy activities during 2018, many of them on an ad-hoc and emergency basis, the following successful lobbying cases deserve particular attention as they directly influence the financial and managerial operations of municipalities: Petitioning as a new lobby instrument; Municipalities receive millions of Euros more due to AKM lobbying; Twenty (20) per cent of royalties will be allocated to municipalities where businesses operate; Draft Law on Publicly Owned Enterprises; Draft Law on Allocation for Use and Exchange of Immovable Property of the Municipality; AKM’s impact on the Council for Economic Development; Concept document of the Law on Local Government Finance.
Activities of AKM’s partnership with several projects are as follow:
Cooperation project with GIZ in the field of Public Services such as: Waste Management and Energy Efficiency in Municipalities,

Joint projects in the field of local governance with: OSCE (Municipal Transparency; Collegium of Legal Officers; Collegium for Administration, Collegium for Inspection);
TEAM/USAID (Collegium for Budget and Finance, Collegium for Procurement, Collegium of Personnel Chairpersons),
UN-HABITAT (Collegium for Spatial Planning)
Cooperation with OSCE in the area of law enforcement
Cooperation with the European Commission Project “Support implementation of the Third Energy Package and Renewable Energy Efficiency” implemented by the ‘GFA Consulting Group’
Cooperation with DEMOS, EU Commission, Council of Europe, etc. regarding specific projects.

In January of this year AKM established a Training Unit in line with article 4.4. of the AKM Strategy 2016-2020 and following an increased interest of municipalities for capacity development of local elected and appointed officials. The Training Unit drafted its Strategy for 2018-2021 titled “A Case for the AKM Training Unit” and an initial plan of action. Furthermore, in cooperation and close consultations with members of AKM Collegia, seven potential training modules were identified.

In the area of capacity building, AKM delivered trainings to all members of Municipal Assemblies. Trainings were organized in five (5) regions on nine (9) modules. Over 850 individuals participated in each training module organized for members of Municipal Assemblies. These trainings were evaluated through an evaluation form which asked participants to list other topics for trainings they would participate in. Over 80 different new topics were identified.

AKM, in cooperation with its partners, also organized trainings and workshops on multiple topics in which more than 1,800 local officials- such as directors and others- participated.
AKM has fully adhered to its statutory obligations for 2018.The Annual General Assembly was conducted, (ii) the Board held five (5) formal and several informal meetings and the Council met more than five (5) times during this the year.

Despite a re-organization of new structures that took place, each collegium held at least six (6) meetings; Collegia chair members held more than 45 meetings. At least two (2) policy positions were developed by each collegium during 2018- said among other things President Veliu, while addressing the members”.

Furthermore, Mr. Naim Ismajli – Mayor of Shtime, took the floor and stressed out that “I agree with the Mayor’s speech and we can appreciate that AKM has achieved its maturity in lobbying for interests and services to the municipalities as well as representation in the international arena. I believe that we all should recognize the fact that AKM is a model in Southeast Europe, and we are often invited to present our good and successful experiences as an organization representing the municipalities of a country. Moreover, Mayor Ismajli emphasized that from the 2018 Report we found that 94% of our recommendations are incorporated into the legal acts of the central institutions and we can consider this is a real figure compared to the work and engagement of the Association of Kosovo Municipalities.

In this regard, he emphasized the Law on Salaries as well as the Allocation for Use and Exchange of Immovable Property of the Municipality for which AKM has been lobbying for several years. On the other hand, regarding the challenges of this year, Mayor Ismajli pointed out several issues that requires further lobbying such as: the right of municipalities to review the municipal budget during the year since it has a great impact on municipalities, structuring municipal budgets according to the needs of municipalities and to our citizens, agreement issues between the line ministries and specific unions, the problem of centralization of some services from central procurement institutions such as certification as well as financing of ad hoc projects of some ministries in municipalities etc. The Mayor once again, thanked the Board and the executive staff of the Association for the entire work, then our partners such as SDC etc. for their continuous support.

Mr. Xhafer Tahiri – Mayor of Vushtrri, showed appreciation towards AKM for the work done during 2018. Mayor Tahiri said that I appreciate the cooperation that we had until now, and hope that this will still continue in the future. One issue that needs to be outlined are the inter-municipal cooperation projects that we believe the Association will continue to engage, as we see this organization as the only door that supports municipalities.
In addition, after the discussions, the AKM General Assembly delegates unanimously approved the AMK Work Report and Financial Report for 2018.

On the other hand, Mr. Sazan Ibrahimi -AKM Executive Director presented briefly the 2018 work plan, as well as the lobbying forms that will serve in the interest of the Kosovo municipalities, which the delegates of the AKM General Assembly approved it. Mr. Ibrahimi presented the four objectives of the 2019 plan as well as the draft laws that the Association of Kosovo Municipalities will focus to lobby this year towards the interests of the local government of Kosovo.

In this annual meeting other issues related to local government in Kosovo were discussed as well.