September 27, 2015 | Sunday

EUICC launches campaign on active civil society

EU Information and Cultural Centre (EUICC) in Pristina launched its bimonthly campaign on active civil society with a public discussion on transparency and accountability of public funds allocated for civil society organizations, which was organized in cooperation with CiviKos platform.

Representatives of non-governmental organizations expressed their concerns about the way public funds are handled by the Kosovo budget. They especially pointed out on the lack of criteria and non-transparent procedures for the selection of beneficiary organizations, the lack of reporting and supervising mechanisms and the lack of a mechanism that would ensure the independence of the civil society organizations that receive government funding.

Establishing a system and setting criteria for financial support to civil society organizations is one of the strategic objectives of the Government Strategy for Cooperation with Civil Society 2013-2017. Executive Director of CiviKos platform, Valdete Idrizi, said that even a year after the establishment of the mechanism for strategy implementation, there are still many problems. According to her, some ministries continue to mismanage the allocation of public funds, as pointed out in the auditor’s report. Consequently, there is a lack of statistics showing the amount of funds allocated to civil society organizations and the number of beneficiary organizations; there is no monitoring of the work done by the beneficiary organizations and no transparency in their reporting.

Hajrulla Çeku, Executive Director of the organization “EC Ma Ndryshe”, who is focused more on the area of culture, said that the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports has no platform for allocation of funds. Thus, according to him, the Ministry has followed the practice of allocating small and proportional funds to a large number of organizations without any criteria for their selection.  In this way the ministries that allocate funds use the latter to control political power, said Çeku.

Rexhep Vasolli, coordinator for the implementation of the government strategy for cooperation with civil society organizations – group III at the Ministry of Finance, was way more positive about the cooperation of the Government with Civil Society Organizations. According to him the Strategy itself is a sign of cooperation, emphasizing the efforts that are currently made to build a transparent and accountable system for financial support of civil society from the Kosovo budget.

Meanwhile as part of the campaign “EU is about active civil society”, EUICC in Pristina organized a cycling tour to mark European Mobility Week. A group of cycling fans began the tour from the EU Information and Cultural Centre to its final destination the national park of Germia, with the slogan “Do the right mix.” This activity aimed to raise awareness of citizens on how to explore new forms of transport in order to address urban challenges, such as air pollution.

On the other hand, the EUICC campaign on active civil society in Northern Mitrovica was launched with a discussion on volunteering, which aimed to encourage young people to voluntarily join the civil society organizations, thus contributing to their skills enhancement and making them ready for the labor market.