Institute of Public Finance Says NPOO Lacks Firm Deadlines For Decentralisation

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“The government has drawn up a plan of national recovery that also envisages the reform of local government. The European Union has supported the plan and is willing to finance it. The plan should definitely be welcomed because in Croatia, which has a large number of local government units with a very small number of residents and very low revenue, their functional and real merger has been long awaited. But since we have already witnessed such plans and projects that have not been implemented, it is necessary to soon define what this plan lacks – firm deadlines for all planned subphases,” says the author of the publication, Katarina Ott.

She notes that a functional and real merger of local government units is more than necessary, considering the country’s large number of local government units, with about 50 having fewer than 1,000 inhabitants, and the drastic differences between them, both in terms of the population size and revenue.

Ott says that it is not true that local government units are not willing to change and improve, recalling that since 2015 the average budget transparency of all local government units had improved from grade 1.8 to grade 4.5.

“In 2015, only one percent of local government units made their budgets public and in 2021 as many as 80% did so,” she said.

The €6.3 billion National Recovery and Resilience Plan envisages promotion of public administration efficiency, including a functional and sustainable local government and investments in its further optimisation and decentralisation through functional mergers, which is estimated to cost HRK 21.6 million, Ott says, noting that the plan lacks firm deadlines for the planned subphases and services.

She also believes that an additional cause for concern is the fact that there is still no official information on a survey by the Public Administration Ministry on the optimisation of local and regional government, which should have been completed and serve as the basis for the reform.

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