Local councils set their general budgets in Aleppo countryside
Enab Baladi – Mais Hamad
With the beginning of the last quarter of 2019, news and data have been successively circulated on the Facebook pages of local councils in northern Syria, announcing the launch of a schedule for a general budget prepared by the councils in an attempt to limit the expenses of the areas affiliated to their administration.
Arshaf village, east of Azaz, in the western countryside of Aleppo, was the first to introduce the idea of approving a general budget since 2018, which counts the expected revenues and expenditures of the council in 2019.
In an interview with Enab Baladi, the Head of the Financial Office at Arshaf Local Council, Walid al-Youssef, said that the main goal of approving the budget is the Local Council’s intention to inform the citizens of its work and the projects that have already been implemented or currently being implemented.
Al-Youssef pointed out that the budget approved by the Local Council for 2020 amounted to $ 406,060, and the share of the projects to be implemented amounted to about $ 319,000. This includes projects of establishing water networks and expanding sewage channels, as well as other service sectors that are supported by the Local Development Office to implement the listed projects.
Commenting on the mechanism of implementation of the projects included in the budget, the Head of the Financial Office explained that Arshaf Local Council presented the studies of the projects that are to be implemented to the supporting organizations so as to provide the required amount, clarifying that three organizations have provided their services to support the implementation of projects in Arshaf.
Al-Youssef also asserted that the Local Council’s members have undertaken training and accounting sessions organized by the Stability Support Committee in the region, in addition to the Development Office concerned with providing financial consultations.
|The general budget is defined as a measure aimed to test the quality of a country’s performance in estimating the total expenditures and revenues that a government expects within a year, to be implemented in light of a tight business plan seeking to ensure the achievement of the financial goals for which the budget was set.
The word “general budget” originates from the French word “bougette,” which means the small bag, according to Britannica.
Budget… For small councils
Bashar Abdul Qader, member of the Restabilization Committee in Aleppo countryside, told Enab Baladi that the Committee targeted 11 local councils in financial training, chosen on the basis of the areas that are most expected to better respond to and commit to training, as well as the affiliation of the targeted councils with the Development Office that supports the councils with salaries.
Abdul Qader noted that the workshops are aimed to help small councils that do not have an approved financial basis, unlike large councils which may enjoy Turkish support in terms of salaries only, to prepare budgets and achieve the transparency standard as one of the principles of governance, which the Committee seeks to implement.
The official denied any Turkish dictations or directives for the councils to create budgets for each local council or to determine the sectors that they cover, explaining that Turkish support is limited to the salaries of the councils’ employees and workers.
The budgets of a number of local councils have revealed their supporting parties and organizations, most prominently the Restabilization Committee, which was established in 2016 and related to the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Committee is concerned with providing assessments and studies on the needs of cities, villages and population centers. World Vision International has also been among the supporting organizations, in addition to the Local Development Office.
Rael joins budget announcement operation
The most recent council that announced its general budget was Rael Local Council in Aleppo countryside, on January 1, 2020, revealing the value of the budget for the current year. Its administrative expenses amounted to $ 158,050 distributed between salaries, wages, fuel insurance and maintenance work. On the other hand, the expected revenues amounted to 26,000 Syrian Pounds, 24,000 of which are expected revenues from the furnace, water and cleaning services, after it achieved revenues in 2019 estimated at about $ 36,000.
The Public Relations and Information Office of Rael Local Council expressed fears that might prevent the achievement of the budget’s goals, especially since the idea is new and may be rejected as the budget is concerned with the state in all its cities and villages, and also because the Rael community is not yet ready for such proposal.
However, the Office stressed to Enab Baladi that revealing the town’s expenditures and revenues make the Council earn trust and demonstrate transparency in its dealings, in addition to attracting support from donor organizations.
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