The Independent Analytical Center Expert- Grup in cooperation with the Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE) organised on 8 October 2021 the second Annual Forum for Participatory Budgeting under the project ‘Inform, Empower and Act. Civil Society for Good Budgetary Governance in Moldova’ co-funded by the European Union and Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.

The event, which took place online, focused on discussing opportunities and challenges related to ensuring participatory budgeting at local level, especially during the pandemic. The participants discussed and analysed ideas and practical solutions for overcoming the challenges and for raising the power and quality of civic engagement in budgetary processes at local level.

Adrian Lupușor, Executive Director, Independent Think Tank “Expert-Grup”, stated

“Participation of local communities in the budgetaryprocessinthecontextofthe pandemic and restrictions is a very important topic. The pandemic should not affect participatory budgeting processes and democracy as a whole. It is important for people to understand that, regardless of sanitary restrictions, their voice is very important at local level. We saw during the project that most mayors and local stakeholders encountered various issues in this respect, particularly physical distancing and online participation have often been quite problematic. It is clear that the efficiency and the impact of a local budget depend on the voice of people, how it is heard and integrated into the budgetary process.”

The event was structured into two discussion panels. During the first one, its moderator, Tatiana Savva, Program Director, Expert- Grup, presented an innovative online platform meant to facilitate budgetary participation by means virtual tools. The panel participants discussed about the main challenges related to promoting budgetary participation at local level and how we can overcome them, how we can motivate decision-makers, local public authorities and local communities in order to ensure a transparent, open, and inclusive budgetary process, but also how can budgetary participation contribute to local development.

Viorel Furdui, Executive Director, Congress of Local Authorities of Moldova:

“Nobody can deny participation of citizens in decision making at local level. We notice more and more that the communities that learned to work with the citizens stand out and have a different atmosphere in everything related to community management. At the same time, as local authorities get more access to various financing, funds, it becomes imperative that such funds are managed as efficiently as possible, so that we would achieve more at local level.”

Anatolii Topal, Mayor of Ceadîr-Lunga municipality, presented the results of the budgetary process in the town, having mentioned that authorities decided to allocate one million lei for projects submitted by the citizens. In his turn, Ion Cărpineanu, Mayor of Cărpineni commune, Hâncești district, spoke about implementing the ‘My Community’ program in the village with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), under which over 600 citizens got involved and more than 20 streets had been repaired. Lusina Șestacov, leader of the initiative group, participatory budgeting project in Soroca municipality, mostly spoke about difficulties encountered while communicating with local public authorities during the participatory budgeting process.

The second panel, moderated by Stanislav Ghilețci, Deputy Executive Director, IPRE, was dedicated to the municipal bonds and how they can contribute to local development, best practice and lessons learned during the issuance of municipal bonds were presented, as well as the main challenges encountered during the issuance of municipal bonds and how can budgetary participation help overcome them.

Ion Ceban, Mayor of Chișinău municipality, mentioned that the municipal authorities intend to attract around 65 million lei on the account of issuing municipal bonds out of the 99 million lei planned for the purchase of new trolleybuses.

Also, Valeriu Popa, Mayor of Sîngera town, mentioned the following: “We are proud, as a community, that the bonds issued by Sîngera Mayoralty, together with the ones issued by Ceadîr-Lunga, are the first ones allowed for trading on the Stock Exchange of the Republic of Moldova. Besides that, the issuance of municipal bonds has two big benefits both for local public authorities and for inhabitants of Sîngera town: first of all, we obtained financial resources to fund an infrastructure project (water pipeline) and, secondly, since we talk about budget participation we have citizens getting involved in the implementation of this project.”

Click here to watch the video recording of the Annual Forum for Participatory Budgeting 2021.

“Inform, Empower, Act. Civil Society for Good Budgetary Governance in Republic of Moldova” is co-funded by the European Union and the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. The project is implemented by the Independent Think Tank ‘Expert-Grup’, as lead partner, in consortium with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS, Germany), Eastern Europe Studies Centre (EESC, Lithuania) and Institute for European Policies and Reforms (IPRE).