During the meeting on October 7th that Democracy for Development institute had with the mayor of the Municipality of Peja, Mr. Gazmend Muhaxheri, the topic of the discussion was the transparency and accountability of Municipality’s executive, relations between the Mayor and the Municipal Assembly of Peja, as well as the participation of citizen in policy- and decision- making processes.
The purpose of the meeting was the presentation of the Kosovo We Want (KWW) programme – in the framework of FES, and the online platform GoodGovernance.info – developed by D4D through a project on local governance, as well as to gather information on the work of the Municipality regarding the main issues identified during the two-year work of KWW.
COVID-19 pandemic certainly affected the work of the Municipality, especially in the inclusion of citizen in decision-making as public meetings with citizen were prohibited by the government as a preventive measure for the spread of pandemic. Nonetheless, Mr. Muhaxherri emphasized that the municipality has organized all of its planned meetings with citizen in this regard, and all of them were held physically while respecting social distance and other measures in force, where approximately 75% of citizens’ concerns and needs were taken into consideration in the policy- and decision- making processes.
Similarly, Mr. Muhaxheri informed us about the past year Municipality’s investments, for example the building of some ponds for watering crop fields in the villages of Peja, the investments in schools by linking their heating system to that of the city heating system – thus getting rid of stoves with wood that were placed in schools, the sanitarian investments in all of the public schools of Peja, three (3) kindergartens are being built (One as part of the Municipalities budget plan, one with a donation from IPA 4, and one with Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Innovation) and in each of them 6 people will be employed, and many more capital investments.
As for the offering living conditions for marginalized groups in the Municipality of Peja, in some neighborhoods that non-major communities are the majority there were investments in roads, lightning, and sewer infrastructures, as well as they were offered financial and institutional stimulations in entrepreneurship for interested individuals from these communities. Likewise, Mr. Muhaxheri emphasized that for public hearings for the budget plan, these communities are the first to be invited in the meetings to listen to their concerns and needs.
Lastly, Mr. Muhaxheri emphasized that COVID-19 pandemic has greatly affected the municipality’s income in the recent months, with a decline of income from taxes of almost 30%. This is also because of mitigation measures for businesses, by allowing them to use public spaces without paying taxes with the aim of helping in recovering the municipality’s economy.