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DELNA PRESENTS THE TRANSPARENCY INDEX OF LOCAL AUTHORITIES AND INVITES MUNICIPALITIES TO BE MORE TRANSPARENT

Transparency International Latvia (Delna) has published the Transparency Index of Local Authorities, a study which assesses the level of transparency of Latvian and Norwegian municipalities in the following areas: politics and decision-making; organisational structure and administration; finance and use of public funds; public participation mechanisms; anti-corruption and ethics; public procurement; ownership and finances of municipal companies. The study was carried out by Transparency International (TI) Norway and TI Latvia (Delna). To evaluate the extent of information disclosure among municipalities, researchers assessed 10 Norwegian and 41 Latvian municipalities’ websites.

Municipalities have considerable budgetary resources at their disposal, significant parts of which are spent on public procurement. This is an area where private and public interests collide, creating risks for corruption, conflicts of interest, etc. To promote transparency among local authorities, in 2020 Delna launched the initiative “Strengthening Integrity and Transparency in Local Municipalities and in Cooperation with Private Companies”. Delna cooperates with TI Norway in the implementation of the initiative.

The launch event of the Transparency Index of Local Authorities took place on the 30th November 2021. In his opening remarks the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway to Latvia, Kristian Ødegaard, highlighted the importance of cooperation between Norway and Latvia in curbing corruption and promoting transparency.

Inese Tauriņa, Director of Delna, said: “The global Covid-19 pandemic affects governments at all levels; it impacts municipalities as well as the business sector. Local government transparency, especially in regard to cooperation with the private sector and citizens, is and will remain crucial to successfully weathering the pandemic and, more importantly, to recovery. This is therefore an opportunity for local governments to create a much more open environment for engaging with businesses, based on good local government and business practices.”

Presenting the results of the study and the indicators used in the municipal index, Delna Researcher Olafs Grigus noted that although municipal websites contain information that would be of interest to citizens, they are often not user-friendly and the information is incomplete. Meanwhile, Tor Dølvik, TI Norway Advisor, pointed out that Latvia scores better than Norway on some indicators, for example, Latvian municipalities publish more information regarding public procurement and municipal companies.

Kristīne Kinča, Legal Adviser of the Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments, stressed the importance of this study being carried out and encouraged further work to assess the openness of local governments, since such information is useful for local governments to attract business, to promote cooperation and participation. Tora Aasland, Chair of the Norwegian Committee on Local Government Ethics, noted that this study is a valuable source of information for municipalities on how to improve their performance – how to provide information to citizens, how to prepare this information and improve their performance in order to improve transparency.

 

To read the report of Transparency Index of Local Authorities, click on the image or here ->

For a video recording of the event, click here ->

Delna will soon publish a toolkit for municipal representatives, offering solutions and outlining good practices that can promote more effective, open and honest cooperation with the private sector as well as with citizens. Delna will send the report as well as the toolkit by post to all municipalities in the spring of 2022.

 

The event was organised as part of Delna’s project “Strengthening Integrity and Transparency in Local Municipalities and in Cooperation with Private Companies”, which receives a grant of EUR 49 000 from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants. The aim of the project is to strengthen the transparency of local governments in Latvia and Norway.

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