Let’s have a look at the advocacy strategy of the Georgian Association of Local Authorities
Established in 2004, the National Association of Local Authorities of Georgia (NALAG) unites all 59 rural municipalities and 5 big cities of Georgia. Its activities are organised around three main branches: Capacity building and legal consultancy, International Cooperation and Lobbing and Advocacy. This third type of activity is very successful. Indeed, NALAG is the national voice of Georgian municipalities, it cooperates with the National Parliament and line ministries on all issues directly affecting Georgian municipalities.
Since its inception, it is enrolled in the Georgian organic law that the NALAG must be consulted when it comes to local self-government authorities related decisions. Also, NALAG is considered as the main representative of Georgian municipalities for consultation at European level : Council of European Municipalities and Regions (CEMR), the Council of Europe, the European Committee of the Regions or PLATFORMA). Therefore, its positions and recommendations are highly important and listened to by the national government.
One of the outstanding examples of Lobbing and Advocacy activity is the Decentralisation Strategy 2019-2025 adopted by the Government of Georgia in December 2019.
In order to elaborate the strategy, a working group was created by the Minister of infrastructure and regional development; it was composed by experts from NALAG, national Government and NGO’s. The work covered several stages: on-site visits in all regions of Georgia, orginising numerous meetings, identifying problems and proposing recommendations for the future decentalisation Strategy.
Decentralisation strategy, in which NALAG has a great contribution, includes three main objectives:
- Increasing the powers of local self-government authorities
- Financial and material strengthening of local self-government authorities
- Establish a reliable, accountable, transparent and result-oriented local self-government
To ensure the implementation of the Decentralisation Strategy, an action plan was adopted for the period of 2020-2021. It covers the three Strategic goals mentioned above. For instance, the action plan includes activities such as supporting to the implementation of competences granted by law upon self-government units; ensuring technical and financial support for municipalities for the execution of their additional competences, transferring part of license to use fees to local self-governments, Improving the system of public finance management at a local level, etc.
When it comes to the European level, decentralisation and regional development is one of the important topics of the Association Agreement between Georgia and the European Union. NALAG currently works on the EU funded project “Networking for Efficiency and Development” (N4ED) – a new modality for effective local self-governance in Georgia. Within this project, the Association aims to:
- support good governance, transparency and citizen participation-based policy processes in Georgia municipalities;
- introduce Performance monitoring and evaluation system (PMES) in Local Self-Governing bodies
- exchange experience and information among Georgian local self-government units on the issues of citizen participation and development of local economy
The Highest decision-making body is the National Congress of local Authorities of Georgia which elects President and Executive Board. President and Members of the Executive Board shall be elected local officials.
Given that the Association has a great influence in decision-making processes on National level and at the same time is the voice of Georgian Municipalities on European level (representing country in numerous international conferences), recently it faces number of challenges such as: highly polarized political environment, limited local autonomy and less developed local economy.