What is the attitude of Banja Luka mayor runners towards new city budget policy?

During July and August, right before the beginning of local elections campaign, GEA organized consultations with Banja Luka mayor runners. The consultations were aimed at opening a dialogue about necessary changes in the City budget policy in the upcoming period and at directing candidates’ campaign to real problems in the functioning of city administration. Having in mind the fact that budget reflects public policies and that it is a direct response to citizens’ needs for public services, we were convinced that the beginning of the electoral campaign is the right time for initiating a discussion on this subject. Besides, preparation and adoption of the 2017 budget will be one of the first jobs of the future city administration led by the new mayor. Therefore, GEA offered all candidates to sign the initiative for new budget policy founded on three key elements:

  1. Ensure full transparency of the City Administration and the budgeting process. This means publicizing the number of employees in the City Administration and all budget users, publishing narrative explanations of the City budget and reports on the City budget execution, introducing the practice of creating the “budget for citizens” as part of the budgeting process that would be simple and easy to understand to citizens, transition to a system of program budgeting, which secures direct link between each budget item and determined results.
  2. Encourage citizens of Banja Luka to participate in the budget planning process by means of defining and adopting clear criteria for determining the program of public hearings (including the number of local communities and their selection) and for evaluating their success, implementing an evaluation of success of implemented public hearings program and making it publicly available, introducing a round of “early” public hearings that would be implemented before the creation of draft budget, presenting amounts of planned investments and projects to be realized in each local community over the budget year during public hearings, and by enabling citizens access relevant budgetary documents in each local community within the City territory.
  3. Redefine budget expense structure according to developmental needs of the city of Banja Luka. Over the upcoming four years, the share of expenses on wages in total City budget expenditure should be decreased to the 2007 level (or less) and the number of employees in the City Administration and City budget users should be harmonized with international standards for that area. Funds made available thereby should be used to increase allocations for investments.

On several occasions, GEA wrote on the inadequate budget structure and budget policy of the City, while our latest commentary on the subject “The City of Banja Luka passes 2016 budget – old problems remain” can be found here.

How did the candidates respond? (the candidates’ names are listed according to the order of the initial letters of their names in the Serbian alphabet)

–          Mr. Dragan Cavic gave words of support to the initiative. His election headquarters delivered a letter in which it was stated that the list of our proposals would be incorporated into their program.

–          Mr. Dusko Tadic received the invitation with the text of the initiative. He did not support the initiative neither orally nor in written.

–          Mr. Igor Radojicic orally supported the initiative on the meeting. He did not send his written support.

–          Mr. Stojan Zupljanin expressed his support to the initiative via telephone. He delivered the signed text of the initiative.