Budget planning involving citizens should become the norm

16 December 2020

For the first time in the last ten years, local elected representatives from Pleseni, Cantemir district, have decided to consult the budget provisions with citizens. Residents of the commune welcome the initiative and believe that involving villagers in the budget planning process should become commonplace.

During this period, local public authorities (LPAs) plan their income and expenditure for the coming year. For the first time in the last ten years, local elected officials in Pleseni, Cantemir district, have decided to consult with citizens on budget provisions. Residents of the commune welcome the initiative and believe that involving villagers in the budget planning process should become commonplace. Until now, the inhabitants of Pleșeni commune, which includes the villages of Pleșeni, Hănăseni and Tătărășeni, did not know what income and expenditure were planned in the local budget, and the town hall and councillors took decisions without informing and consulting the inhabitants. Budget planning - posted on Facebook On 14 December 2020, a budget planning hearing was held for the first time in the commune, with villagers being asked to decide the fate of public money for next year. Through announcements distributed in the commune, as well as via social media, people were informed about the event, and the commune's Facebook page posted the planned budget amounts, so that both the commune's inhabitants and the people of Plesen abroad could consult them. Thus, the commune's budget for 2021 is planned in the total amount of over 7 million 390 thousand lei, and most allocations are planned for the local kindergartens, attended by 140 children, for the town hall apparatus about 984 thousand lei were planned, and for the houses of culture - about half a million lei. The villagers welcome the initiative of the mayor's office and the local council to consult the budget before approving it. "Why shouldn't we know what our money will be spent on? We've never been invited to such activities before and I think it's great to see what the money will be spent on and to have our say. There used to be councillors too, so why wasn't this done?" asks Maria Balaban, a resident of Pleseni, who is determined to continue monitoring the work of the local authorities. Veaceslav Mironov, another inhabitant of the commune, says that involving citizens in the decision-making process is a sign of respect for the people who pay taxes. Experience from Germany brought to Pleseni Oleg Boboc, mayor of Pleseni commune, now in his first term, worked and lived in Germany for 14 years, where he also learned that the citizen-taxpayer must be informed and respected, because it is on his money that the locality is run. Thus, in his work as mayor, he has made it his goal that both he and the local councillors should consult frequently with the citizens about everything that is to be done in the commune. "After seeing how people live in Germany, I decided to return home to do something for the village," says the mayor. Although he has no experience in local government, Oleg Boboc is convinced that local government must work transparently and fairly towards citizens: "I have never been a local councillor and I have never been involved in politics. I am convinced that one can live well and honestly at home, with the help and involvement of the villagers in solving all the problems of the community". Budget transparency ensures better public services The expert on transparency in decision-making at the Institute for Development and Social Initiatives (IDIS) "Viitorul", Viorel Pîrvan, says that local elected representatives must start from the idea that the local budget is the citizens' budget. "By involving people in the budget process, the priorities of the locality can be set. In this way, public money is made more efficient, as the inhabitants can say, for example, which public purchases are a priority in their opinion. Involving citizens contributes to the transparency of the budget process, and anything that is transparent, i.e. in people's eyes, reduces the temptation for corruption. At the same time, budgetary transparency ensures better public services, improves the investment climate, encourages economic activity, because local people are directly involved in setting local taxes, for example, which are part of the local budget," says the expert. Equally important, according to Viorel Pîrvan, is the involvement of citizens in the budget execution process, to monitor whether public money is spent as planned. Lilia Zaharia Independent Press Association