Local Democracy in Armenia Call to the Government of the Republic of Armenia

Local Democracy in Armenia Call to the Government of the Republic of Armenia

12.09.2017

Communities Association of Armenia, representing the unified voice of the communities of Armenia, recognizes the efforts and commitment of the Government of Armenia in pursuing decentralisation policies during the last 21 years since the local government system was set up in Armenia. The Association also emphasises that significant achievements have been made when agenda for local democracy development and specific action plans have been set through multi-stakeholder partnership and cooperation. 

Such agendas defining the targets and specific actions were set in 2004 and 2010 in close cooperation between the Government of Armenia and Communities Association of Armenia. As a result significant progress was made in strengthening systems of local democracy and local governance in Armenia. 

We also value the efforts of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe, which throughout the years has provided consistent support for local self-government reforms in Armenia. Government of Armenia and the Congress have restated their commitment to further strengthening local self-government system in Armenia through the road map signed in Yerevan in 2016.  

According to the principle of subsidiarity defined in Article 4, paragraph 3 of the European Charter of Local Self-Government: '' Public responsibilities shall generally be exercised, in preference, by those authorities, which are closest to the citizen. Allocation of responsibility to another authority should weigh up the extent and nature of the task and requirements of efficiency and economy”. This principal requires maintaining balance between stakeholders by giving preference to the decisions made by bodies closer to citizens over the ultimate criteria of efficiency. Application of public responsibilities in general should be decentralized to ease the participation and accountability in decision-making processes.

Decentralisation has been and remains the core issue in agenda of development of local self-government in Armenia. During the last years, however, we have not observed visible steps made towards decentralisation. The main focus has been on territorial-administrative reform.  The Government of Armenia and the Association have always been in agreement that the territorial-administrative reforms create new opportunities for decentralisation. The change in territorial-administrative set up of Armenia is a fact now, and we are now at a new starting point beyond which the issue of decentralisation should again be put on the agenda.

By noting that even in the aftermath of territorial administrative reform the local self-government system in Armenia remains week, has limited own-authorities and limited resources and capacities for implementing the authorities it has we call upon the Government of Armenia

  • To start a process of jointly drafting a new Action Plan for development of Local Self-government in Armenia for the upcoming 4 years engaging expert support from the Council of Europe as well;
  • To develop a formal consultation mechanism between the Government and the Association with expert support of the Council of Europe;
  • Ground on the principle of subsidiarity as a guiding principal to effectively implement the decentralisation process;
  • To revise the legislation in order to clarify and justify the division of authorities between the communities and the Government;
  • To strengthen the capacities of the communities with a vision to eventually transfer to them the authority to deliver a wide array of public services;
  • To increase the financial capacity of communities, namely by introducing the city/hotel tax and applying the provision of the law enabling the local governments to make deductions from income tax, as a result of which the communities may become motivated and capacitated engines for local economic development.

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