DUSHICA PERISHIC, LSUC EXECUTIVE MANAGER
Decentralization is in the function of citizens
LSUC is completely open for cooperation with the non-governmental organizations, both domestic and foreign. It is actually its strategic objective. The municipalities themselves cooperate a lot with the NGOs and of course, with the decentralization, this cooperation will increase more...
By Marjana Ivanova
Mrs. Dushica Perishic, an executive manager of the Local Self-government Units Community is a graduated mechanical engineer with 14-years of “factory” experience in Metalski Zavod “Tito”, where she has been on different positions, among which a project manager and then a commercial director. Although this kind of working experience does not seem to have a lot in common with her present position – LSUC executive manager, however, the experience in work organization, in “managing”, project managing (although of a different kind), team work – helped her to cope quite well on this position. Thus, for a year already she has been successfully “swimming” in the ruffled waters of the local self-government and everything else which is going on around her, including the passing of the new self-government law with all the changes it brings.
We talked to Mrs. Perishic wanting to contribute more for the mutual acquaintance of the local self-government and the non-governmental organizations, in order to promote their cooperation.
C.W. – Could you briefly introduce LSUC – what kind of organization it is, how it works, what its strategy is?
D.P. – Well, LSUC is in a way a non-governmental organization, although not registered according to the Non-governmental organizations and foundations law, but according to the Local self-government law since 1995. Since then it has been existing as LSUC, but it has been functioning since 1972 as Municipalities and Towns Community in the Republic of Macedonia. Its role is to present and represent all the local self-government units in front of the central power, foreign countries, agencies and other subjects. LSUC functions on very democratic principles – there are two Houses in its structure: the Mayors’ House, which comprises all 124 mayors of the municipalities in Macedonia and Counselors’ House, which comprises one representative of the 124 municipal councils. They decide together on the key issues in the interests of the local self-government. The two Houses meet once a year. Above the Houses there is another body – the LSUC Permanent Committee which comprises 30 members (15 of each House) and they meet once a month and bring decisions on the current working. The Permanent Committee has a president who is also a president of LSUC. At the moment this function is being carried out by Goran Vangelov, the mayor of Vinica. LSUC has also administration, small by quantity and it comprises three people: a technical secretary, a research assistant for abroad working and an executive manager.
LSUC has nine strategic objectives: to become a powerful lobby of the local self-government units in front of the central power; to grow into an efficient service center for the local self-government units; to provide an organizational structure which is flexible and efficient for realizing its functions; to become financially (independent) stable organization; to work on improving the capabilities and the knowledge of the elected functionaries in the local self-government; to develop a wide network of cooperation with international governmental and non-governmental organizations and associations; to provide constant media support to affirm its objectives and tasks; to develop cooperation network with the NGOs in the Republic of Macedonia and to strive after the children’s rights protection.
C.W. – Last year you had a lot of work with the new Local Self-government Law. What is LSUC’s attitude in respect of the law and what was its participation in passing this document?
D.P. – In reference to LSUC, the only novelty the Law brings is that the local self-government units are not obliged to be LSUC’s members. They can form or join other organizations, but a right to have the name of national organization has the one which has two-thirds membership of the municipalities in Macedonia. So far there has not been a local self-government unit which has either left or announced to leave the LSUC membership.
LSUC insisted for the Local Self-management Law to be passed. It is not ideal as it is, it has a lot of lacks, but it is the first step towards decentralization. We have considered it very important to have such a document and as far as its contents are concerned, it can always change, complement and modernize. By passing this law it has been specified that other eighty new laws or existing laws modifications are to be passed – so, there is a lot of work to be done for establishing new decentralized legislation in this sphere.
C.W. – Does LSUC take initiatives to participate in the process of creating new legislation in the sphere of the local self-government?
D.P. – Yes, we actively participate in that process. For that purpose we have so far formed five commissions which work on some specific areas. The first, Urbanistic and spatial planning commission has achieved biggest progress in its work. It comprises, as well as all the other commissions, a main commission, technical commission and external experts. It has already prepared two bills – for Urbanistic and Spatial Planning Law and Law of Building Investment Buildings. They have already been sent to the President of the country, President of the Parliament, Government and its organs and to the European Commission Delegation in Macedonia. In these laws we offer solutions from an aspect specific for the local self-government, in order to reduce to a local level what these two laws regulate, to ease the procedures, some jurisdiction which is now too centralized to move in the domain of the local self-government, thus making it easier for the citizens.
The second commission is for financing the local self-government. There cannot be some real decentralization without fiscal decentralization, that is why the Law of financing the local self-government is one of the most important acts which are to be passed.
Then follow the Sport and Culture Commission, Following the local self-government law implementation commission, Preparing a proposal-statute for the municipalities commission, which has prepared a model and has sent it to all the municipalities and they are to adjust it to their conditions. Two other commissions are in a forming phase – education and health and if necessary, some others will be formed, too.
C.W. – One of your strategic objectives is to become financially independent and stable organizations. How are you getting finances at the moment?
D.P. – LSUC is financed by membership fees. Every year the Permanent Committee decides upon the membership fee which the local self-government units pay. For several years already, each municipality pays membership fee which is 0,4% of its budget.
We have some help from both domestic and foreign projects and programs: the German technical help, GTZ, covers the technical expenses, USAID LGRP – DAI program helps us realizing our activities (seminars, meetings, workshops), Open Society Institute of Macedonia Foundation has provided assets for equipping and now together we are working on a project for web-sites for 15 municipalities and LSUC. OSIMF has donated computer equipment and it covers expenses for one employee in each of the 15 municipalities and LSUC for a period of one year, who is going to work on the web-sites. The objective is the municipalities to exchange information, thus achieving bigger transparency and making it easier for the citizens to access the local self-government information.
C.W. – How does LSUC cooperate with the non-governmental organizations?
D.P. – We are completely open for cooperation with the non-governmental organizations, both domestic and foreign. It is actually our strategic objective. We are working with MCIC on a very interesting project – Municipalities’ Informant, where all the data on the local self-government units are going to be entered. In December, last year, we organized municipalities’ fair, where some NGOs took part. It was a very good experience and we are planning such a fair this year, too. Besides that, the municipalities themselves cooperate a lot with the NGOs and of course with the decentralization, this cooperation will increase more.
“Apart from representing and presenting the local self-government units in front of the central power and the foreign DONORS, LSUC also issues a monthly newspaper, databases, sends weekly reports to the municipalities, mediates between towns twinning and contacts with the Council of Europe (LSUC has a delegation of three people in the Council of Europe), organizes conferences, press-conferences, carries out some publication activities...
LSUC has also prepared a draft version of Agreement with the Government, for all the important issues to include representatives of the local self-government.”
City of Skopje Law
“LSUC is preparing to take an initiative for passing a new City of Skopje Law. We are in a process of agreements with the Dutch Embassy in Macedonia for realizing cooperation with VNG, a Dutch organization appropriate to LSUC, in a project for the seven Skopje municipalities and Skopje. We have also had meetings with DFID which is working on this law, too and we have suggested in its preparation to involve representatives of the local self-government and the DFID representative reacted very positively on this.”