Wednesday, 7 December 2011
THE GRASS ROOTS OF LOCAL DEMOCRACY ARE BECOMING AN INTEGRAL PART OF THE PARLIAMENTARY DEMOCRACY
The Standing Inquiry Committee for Protection of Civil Freedoms and Rights, the Committee on Local Self-government, and the Finances and Budget Committee of the Assembly of the Republic of Macedonia had separate meetings with the Delegation of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.
The Delegation of the Congress was composed of: Mr. Ian Micallef - Co-Rapporteur from Malta and member of the Chamber of Local Authorities of the Congress; Andrée Buchmann - Co-Rapporteur from France and member of the Chamber of Regions; and Mr. Jens Woelk and Ms. Sedef Cankoçak - members of the Secretariat of the Congress.
The Chairman of the Standing Inquiry Committee for Protection of Civil Freedoms and Rights, Mr. Bekim Fazliu, informed the Delegation about the work of the Committee. Mr. Micallef told the members of the Committee that every 5 years the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities monitors the situation in all member countries of the Council of Europe and that they have last visited Macedonia in 2007.
The visitors were interested whether the Macedonian Assembly has discussed the ratification of the Convention on Participation of Foreigners in Public Life at Local Level, in the number of foreigners in Macedonia, the situation regarding civil rights on local level, and whether Macedonia has a Local Government Ombudsman. The members of the Committee informed the Delegation of the Council of Europe that although debates have been held on the Convention it has not yet been ratified and that Macedonia does not have a Local Government Ombudsman, but that the Ombudsman has 6 regional offices.
At the meeting with the members of the Committee on Local Self-government, the Chairperson of the Committee Mr. Xhevat Ademi informed the guests that this is relatively new Assembly Committee. Mr. Micallef assessed positively the establishing of such a Committee in the Assembly and said that this is a good example for the other countries in the region and Europe in general. The visitors were interested in the process of decentralization in the country in various fields such as education, health care and social protection. Mr.
Ademi pointed out that in the last 10 years Macedonia has made considerable progress in the transfer of power from central to local level, and that today ZELS, the Association of the Units of Local Self-government, is an important institution in the country.
The Chairperson of the Finances and Budget Committee Mr. Marjančo Nikolov elaborated the structure of the resources for financing the local self-government, the different local taxes, the competences of the local authorities, and the level of financial independence of the local self-government. Mr. Micallef expressed satisfaction from the efforts that the Macedonian parliamentarians are making regarding local self-government issues, reminding that they themselves are coming form the different local units and that in this way the roots of the local democracy are becoming part of the parliamentary democracy.