Agriculture, tourism and environment protection as development priorities of cities and municipalities

Agriculture and tourism are activities that local governments recognize as the greatest development opportunities, while environment protection is seen as a priority for improving the quality of life of citizens. This was demonstrated by the new strategic development plans of 10 cities and municipalities prepared for the period up to 2030, which defined the measures, as well as the means needed to achieve the set goals.

Despotovac, urban municipality Palilula from Niš, Ivanjica, Kladovo, Loznica, Ljig, Smederevo, Velika Plana and Zaječar will soon put their development plans up for public discussion, while Subotica was the fastest and adopted its strategic document in December. The plans were created with the mentoring assistance of NALED and the Balkan Center for Regulatory Reform, and in cooperation with the Republic Secretariat for Public Policies, within the project "Support to the improvement of capacities and the creation of local development plans" financed through the German Development Cooperation implemented by GIZ.

- I am especially glad that we have contributed to the improvement and transparency of strategic planning, as well as to greater participation of citizens who, through working groups, that is, the consultation process, participated in shaping development plans that correspond to their needs. I hope that it will be the same during the upcoming public hearings, and that all plans will be adopted soon. The inclusion of citizens in the drafting of public policies at the local level represents a significant step in the reform of public administration on the way to EU accession - stated the director of the good governance program of GIZ Serbia, Štefan Hajek, at the presentation of the development plans.

Advisor to the President of Serbia, Jerg Heskens, pointed out that efficient local government and efficient municipal procedures are key factors in the successful economic development of Serbia.

- In previous years, the Government significantly improved the business environment and the economy, but the improvement was not felt equally everywhere. Some municipalities have progressed more than others. This brings us to the key message, which is that the Government will always provide funds, projects or subsidies equally for everyone. But it is the implementation at the local level that makes the difference. Therefore, my advice for representatives of local governments is not to wait for Belgrade. The initiative must be on your side, and Belgrade will be a tailwind, not the other way around - Heskens said.

Director of RSJP Bojana Tošić pointed out that the local government development plan represents the basis for the long-term socio-economic development of the local community. "It is important to note that all local governments included in the project conducted extensive consultations and enabled every citizen to have their voice heard. "RSJP will continue to provide professional and methodological support to colleagues from local governments in the further process of implementing the development plan, as well as in reporting on the achieved results," added Tošić.

The executive director of NALED, Violeta Jovanović, pointed out that the development of a strategic development plan is the first step towards building a business and citizen friendly local government. "NALED, through Business Friendly Certification Program of municipalities in Southeast Europe, BFC SEE helps local governments to develop administration and business conditions according to the highest international standards. Developing a modern development plan is the first of the 10 criteria needed to get the stamp of quality that you are on the right track. More than 100 cities and municipalities from the entire region have passed this program, of which more than 20 are from Serbia, and all of them today have a clear vision of their strengths and chances to achieve economic progress," said Jovanović.

In addition to agriculture, tourism and ecology, which were highlighted by all local governments, other development opportunities included the measures to support entrepreneurship, the reconstruction and construction of roads, water supply and sewerage and business zones, the development of eGovernment, while significant activities would also be aimed at improving the quality of education and access to social and health services, construction of sports fields and reconstruction of cultural and historical buildings. The citizens who participated in the surveys and the development of the plans focused not only on strategic issues, but also on everyday needs - more parking spaces and green areas, reconstruction of streets and roads, bicycle paths, children's playgrounds, an indoor swimming pool, more events and content for young people, etc.

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