Big step forward on the implementation of Participatory Budgeting (PB) in Latvia

On May 14, 2020, The Cabinet of Ministers approved the Conceptual Report* of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Regional Development (VARAM) on the implementation of the Participatory budgeting in Latvia. This report was designed to promote the involvement of citizens in the decision-making process and mutual trust among municipalities and citizens. The implementation of the participatory budgeting is also specified in the Declaration on the Activities of the Cabinet of Ministers.
Even for the moment, the option to implement the Participatory budgeting is voluntary, this is a huge step forward on the implementation of participatory budgeting in Latvia. The Cabinet of Ministers already approved this initiative and the next steps now are to develop appropriate regulation in the new Law of Local municipalities which is under development The future of Participatory budgeting in Latvia seems promising and will be based on the following key statements/activities :
1) PB should be introduced in all municipalities,
2) at least 1% of the average income of municipal income and real estate tax over the last three years or at least EUR 500 000 annually should be redirected for PB activities,

3) the funding shall be distributed proportionally between the territorial units of the municipality or urban areas,
4) local governments should incorporate the thematic directions of the participatory budgeting into the local government’s development programme,
5) the rules for the implementation of the participation budget should be drawn up for each municipality, following the principles set out (for example, the vote on ideas takes place for at least 14 days, the municipality undertakes to implement all the ideas that have been won; project ideas cannot contradict developmental planning documents, etc.),
6) to ensure those project ideas are submitted and voted; it is necessary to establish or adapt the existing system, such as the Latvija.lv portal, at the national level,
7) Planning regions (e.g. Vidzeme Planning region) will be responsible for compiling best practices in each region, while VARAM will provide methodical support.

Minister Juris Puce (the Minister of VARAM): “The most significant benefits of the implementation of the participatory budgeting are the activation of civil society, direct involvement in the adoption of important development decisions on its territory. At the same time, by modernising the public administration, it is an opportunity to inform and educate citizens about the activities of the local government, budget planning to promote cooperation, as well as to improve citizens’ sense of belonging to a particular community, village or local government, thereby also contributing to the interest of citizens in paying taxes.”

* The Conceptual Report includes also information on EmPaci project Part 2.1.

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