A set of bills on local and regional government units, designed to significantly reduce the number of local officials, has been put into public consultation.
According to the proposed amendments, the number of elected officials would drop from 1,321 down to 703. Furthermore, the number of members of representative bodies would be be reduced by 10 percent and their allowances would be capped.
Ivan Malenica, minister of Justice and Public Administration, added that the amendments introduce an obligation for local government units to publish information on how federal budget money is spent while the Budget Act will provide more specific regulations.
The ministry will see to it, through digital platforms, that this change is as cheap as possible for local government units, Malenica said.
He noted that that way participatory democracy was being strengthened as was citizens' participation in decision-making at the local level.
The amendments also harmonise terms for running in local elections to introduce the obligation for both candidates for leaders of local government units and those running for members of representative bodies to have at least six months of registered residence in a given unit of local government at the moment when elections are called.
As for public criticism that the amendments were only cosmetic and that most deputies in local government units would be hired as advisors or department heads, Malenica said that his ministry could not control the system of hiring in local government units.
"The Ministry of Justice and Public Administration cannot control the employment system within units of local self-government. What we can legally control is the amount of the local budget allocated for salaries; which cannot exceed 20 percent of their operating income," said the minister.
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