The expectations of the citizens, especially from the local government, are always high, the need of solving their problems quickly and efficiently is justified, but they do not always come across the implementation of responsible policies by the municipalities in which they live in, and very often they are neither familiar, nor feel the effects of the work of the local self-government. Transparency and responsible policies, especially at the local level, have always been a problem, whereas citizens in most cases have encountered a closed door from the local government.
We spoke with the Mayor of the Municipality of Veles, Ace Kocevski, precisely about the expectations of the citizens of Veles, the possibilities of the Municipality, about transparency and responsibility, his personal responsibility as a mayor, but also of the local self-government, as well as about the relationship between the local and central government in implementing the anticipated and promised local reforms at the local elections.
“When assessing who has done what, the objective circumstances need to be taken into consideration. I inherited the Municipality of Veles in a very bad situation in this mandate, third in a row, with debts of about three million euros. Adhering to the rules of responsible, accountable, ethical management of the municipality, I decided to pay back a large part of the debts. As the Serbs and Croats say, you can’t have the goat and the money. You cannot be repaying such large debts and have such large capital projects at the same time. That is the only reason why in Veles it cannot be felt that capital projects are being implemented…Now it is different, compared to the previous period. After the new government came, following the Colourful Revolution, citizens can much more openly and more judgmentally assess the work of both the central and local government. Their expectations are very high, they are eager to have their stacked problems solved, particularly from the aspect of improving the quality of life, and maybe because of this, the impression is as such. The mandate is 4 years, and the final assessments should, nevertheless, be given at the end”, replied Kocevski as a comment to a statement of a citizen from Veles in one of the many surveys of CIVIL Media, who considers that the mayor in his previous mandates did much more, and now the municipality has done nothing for the citizens.
Kocevski explained also the manner in which the people in Veles inform themselves about his work and, in general, the work of the Municipality of Veles, using his official profile of mayor and the profile of the municipality on Facebook, as well as the website where all the documents, events and projects are published. Moreover, Kocevski praised the cooperation with the civil sector, the public debates and discussions that they jointly organize on various topics and issues.
“The Municipality of Veles is one of the municipalities that can serve as an example according to the transparency in its work…We are working on a plan for integrity of the municipality, no other municipality in the country has this, and I believe that in the next period we will set things even better in order for accountability and transparency to be at an even higher level than they are now”, outlined Kocevski.
The Mayor openly and responsibly confirmed that he has neither been, nor has found himself or the municipality in a situation to have to apologise to the Veles public for any project they have implemented.
“Without money you cannot expect anything, because nobody builds for nothing. The previous mayors built on loans and put the municipalities into debt. That is not a solution. We must work honestly, transparently, respect the laws, for the work to be without corruption, and it is the citizens’ right to evaluate whether they are satisfied or dissatisfied. It is important, in the specific case for me, whether I have done the most of what is possible. I can responsibly say that I have not misused a single denar, that I have successfully managed the money that the municipality has, and I cannot be at fault if it is not enough because those are the possibilities. Perhaps you also want to drive a BMW or a Mercedes, and live in a palace of 300 square meters, but you are satisfied with a more modest automobile and you live in modest conditions. Wishes and expectations are one thing, and the possibilities are another”, explained Kocevski in answering the question what are the expectations of the people of Veles, which the municipality cannot fulfil no matter how much it wants to.
Kocevski also expressed dissatisfaction from the recent relationship between the local and central government, but hopes that the reforms in the local self-government, namely, the systematic change of the Law on local self-government as of January 1 will enable a better starting position for the municipalities.
Camera: Dehran Muratov
Photography: Маја Ivanovska
This post is also available in: Macedonian