Skopje, November 3, 2021 – Investments in useful and valuable infrastructure projects, which will improve the quality of citizens’ life at the local level, should be one of the key drivers of sustainable development and economic recovery in the coming post-crisis period. This is the main conclusion of the today’s debate, organized by UNDP, with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency – SIDA, which was attended by members of the Cabinet, Ambassadors, Mayors, donor community representatives and other relevant stakeholders. Mr. Fatmir Bytyqi, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of Economic Affairs, Coordination of Economic Departments and Investments, referred to several mechanisms through which the central government contributes to the implementation of capital infrastructure projects at the local level.
"We have serious intentions to raise the level of implementation of all capital projects, regardless whether those are projects funded by central or local governments, and in that regard we are establishing a central unit for monitoring and implementation of capital projects, which will guarantee a higher level of efficiency and effectiveness in the implementation of all these projects, because for every citizen it is most important what the living conditions are where they live, and they must be dignified and more importantly, the same for all," said Deputy Prime Minister Bytyqi.
At the event the Technical Documentation Fund was presented, through which grounds have been for the realization of a total of 58 infrastructure projects in the country. Comprehensive technical documentation for projects in 47 municipalities and two planning regions has been prepared. In addition, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, technical documentation was provided for the reconstruction and energy efficiency improvement of nine hospitals.
"This is just the beginning of a success story. The total amount needed for the realization of these 58 projects is 126 million US dollars. It is necessary for all of us to mobilize to reach the ultimate goal, because these projects will provide environmental protection, safer water supply, quality public buildings, energy efficient schools and hospitals and better roads, but at the same time it will mean "wind at back" for capital investments and the fulfillment of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals," said Armen Grigoryan, UNDP Resident Representative.
The Technical Documentation Fund is one of the components of the project " Building Municipal Capacity for Project Implementation", implemented by UNDP in cooperation with the Ministry of Local Self-Government, while financial support is provided by Sweden.
"As one of the largest bilateral donors in the country, Sweden has long been a supporter of the development of Northern Macedonia and the process of EU accession. We note that several significant reforms are underway and Sweden will remain a reliable partner on that path through the seven-year Strategy for Reform Cooperation with the Western Balkans and Turkey 2021-2027, which was recently adopted by the Swedish government. The continuous cooperation with the countries in the region is aimed at strengthening the conditions for democratic and inclusive development on the road to the EU. This is where this project and the Technical Documentation Fund that is part of it come to the fore, because creating opportunities to increase the utilization of available funds for local infrastructure projects is an important aspect in terms of promoting sustainable local development for the benefit of citizens," said the Ambassador of Sweden, Christine Forsgren Bengtson.
Mr. Fatmir Besimi, Minister of Finance, said that achieving local and regional development is one of the key goals of the government program and it is in this direction that the Plan for Accelerated Economic Growth, the Draft Budget for 2022 and the reform for fiscal decentralization have been prepared.
"With this reform, more funds are allocated to the municipalities. This is achieved by increasing the current share of projected revenues for municipalities from personal income tax from 3% to 6% and the VAT refund rate from 4.5% to 6%, which will be applied from 2024," said Besimi.
The project aroused great interest and as many as 80% of the municipalities in the country applied to receive prepared technical documentation for important infrastructure projects. The Technical Documentation Fund also worked on the development of the capacity of the municipal administration, in order for them to be able to independently implement initiatives for the implementation of projects that will improve the quality of life of their residents.