Latvian Regional Development practice discussed in TashkentNov 18, 2016
A number of senior employees responsible for regional development of the Cabinet of Ministers of the Republic of Uzbekistan, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Finance, khokimiyats of Jizzakh, Namangan and Tashkent regions visited Latvia on September 4-12, 2016 to learn the Latvian practice of regional governance and development. The study tour was organized by the UNDP and the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Business Center “Poytaht” in Tashkent hosted Round Table to discuss a report prepared following the study trip. Representatives of the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economy, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, khokimiyats of Tashkent city, Namangan and Tashkent regions, Center for Economic Research, Institute of Forecasting and Macroeconomic Research, “Electronic Government” system development Center and Banking and Finance Academy, as well as the Latvian Embassy in Uzbekistan took part at the event.
Latvia in brief: area – 64 589 km2, population - 1 958 800 inhabitants, GDP in 2015 - $49,081 billion, per capita - $24712, Latvia is a unitary parliamentary republic, a member of the European Union since 2004.
Latvian experience in development and implementation of regional policy deserves special attention. Because it has common features that are typical to Central and Eastern Europe countries, and at the same time it is associated with persistent departure from state authority and administration system of the Soviet type.
Nowadays Latvia is divided into 119 administrative divisions, 110 of which are municipalities and 9 are cities (Riga Jurmala, Liepaja, Ventspils, Rezekne, Daugavpils, Ekabpils, Valmiera, Elgava).
As it was noted at the event, in Uzbekistan great attention is paid to consistent democratization of governance system and local government optimization. In this case it is very important to study the practice of democratic countries in ensuring effective cooperation between central and local authorities, as well as development of proposals on using obtained experience.
Therefore members of the Uzbek delegation in the framework of study tour visited key Latvian public agencies responsible for regional policy, such as the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development, the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Government, the Latgale regional planning administration, Riga, Daugavpils cities Councils, the Latvian school of public administration, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
During the meetings, Uzbek delegation members had an opportunity to get acquainted with the experience of Latvia in reforming regional and municipal governance, positive results of these implemented reforms, the process of budget planning and regulations, both at the central and local levels, as well as public service system, including training public servants.
Following the visit it was prepared a report with recommendations on improving legal, institutional base of Uzbekistan regional governance in order to ensure the further sustainable development of territories.
Round table speakers stressed that today sustainable regional policy is vital to use maximum internal potential of regions, especially in the context of ongoing global financial crisis and low prices for basic export products. In this regard there is a need for further legislation improvement in this area, involving the development and adoption of the Law “On Local Government” in new edition and the Law “On Regional Development”, which will significantly increase the role of local government bodies, supply them an opportunity within the decentralized powers independently, without referring to the republican authorities, and timely solve regional issues, determine priorities and allocate resources based on local conditions and needs, as well as attract foreign investors. It would significantly strengthen the powers of local Kengashes of people’s deputies for controlling the local authorities' activities. It would also improve the logistics of khokimiyats, working conditions and wages of khokimiyat workers.
During the discussion issues on improving inter-budgetary equalization system of regions’ financial recourses, significant expansion of the revenue base of local budgets were considered. Participants also suggested to include concrete proposals and recommendations to the report on providing electronic system of indicators for regional development in Uzbekistan taking into account Latvian experience. This would more accurately evaluate trends in development of territories and control programs on improving one or another sphere.
Study visit results and recommendations may also be used in the development of appropriate strategies and regional development programs. Particularly, to provide new mechanisms of cooperation and coordination of central and local governments bodies, as well as strengthen capacity and efficiency of the activities of khokimiyats and local Kengashes of people’s deputies.
At the end of the event Odiljon Mamadaliev, a participant of the study trip to Latvia, Head of consolidated management department management responsible for the comprehensive development of the territories of Namangan regional khokimiyat, noted the following:
“In the framework of the study visit to Latvia we have studied modern approaches to urban/municipal planning and governance, innovative projects for sustainable development of regions, including in agriculture and tourism spheres. I am sure that Latvian practice will be useful in development and realization of comprehensive programs for territorial development of our country”.