Notes and Decisions from the third Water Task Force meeting
24 March 2010
- Mahir Yagcilar, Water Task Force Vice-Chairman, Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning (MESP)
- Raif Elezi, Deputy Minister of Local Governance Administration
- Menderes Ibra, Policy Advisor, Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF)
- Ramadan Sejdiu, Head of POE Policy and Monitoring Unit, MEF
- Guido Beltrani, Deputy Director, Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO)
- Ardiana Efendija-Zhuri, National Programme Officer, Swiss Cooperation Office (SCO)
- Perihane Ymeri, Project Management Specialist, USAID
- Greg Olson, Private Sector Advisor, USAID
- Driton Qehaja, Water Task Force Coordinator
- Baton Begolli, Water Policy Advisor (WPA), Water Task Force (WTF)
- Skënder Agolli, Water Utility Advisor (WUA), Water Task Force (WTF)
Vice-Chairman of the Water Task Force, Minister Yagcilar opened the meeting, in the absence of the Chairman, Deputy Prime Minister Kuqi. He informed the participants on the manifestations around the World Water Day in Prizren and on the signing of the memorandum of cooperation between USAID and Regional water Companies of Prizren and Peja. He then gave the floor to the advisors to present on the agenda items.
Presentations on the second agenda item Report on the progress of Water Task Force decisions (presentation by Baton Begolli, water policy advisor) Mr. Begolli informed the participants that there is development in each of the 10 decisions taken by the Water Task Force so far, as follows:
1. Content of the water strategy: MESP, ECLO and WTF will establish a technical working group in order to complete this task.
2. Consolidation of water public companies: A draft decision has been prepared and it is being reviewed by the Coordinating Secretariat of the Government.
3. ICPDR: MESP has nominated the experts for technical groups; MFA is looking into possibility of Kosovas representation.
4. Water conference: 2009 Water Conference has been held and recommendations have been presented to the 2nd WTF meeting. Negotiations for the 2010 conference will start soon.
5. Legal framework: WTF is in the process of engaging legal consultants to complete this decision.
6. Inter-institutional cooperation: WTF has contracted a consultant for institutional appraisal, in order to complete this decision.
7. Investment plan: WTF and ACDEI have been supporting MESP in preparing a short term to medium term plan. The World Bank is looking into an investment plan for Ibër Basin. ECLO will follow up with the Water Strategy.
8. Private Sector Participation: DPM Kuqi has sent a letter to MEF to follow this up. MEF is in the process.
9. Capacity Development: DPM Kuqi has sent a letter to MESP to follow up on this decision. No information on the progress.
10. Implementation of Performance Agreement: POE PMU (MEF) is in the process of finalizing the performance agreements.
Discussion in this agenda item:
Decision 1 MEF Advisor expressed his concern that the first decision could be wrong, based on the experiences and procedures of strategy drafting. WPA responded by explaining that the decision is as a result of the legislative obligation of MESP to lead the process, request by the donors to establish the scope of the strategy and identifying which sectors it will cover, as well as establishing the first step toward drafting the overall strategy. WTF Vice-chairman, Minister Yagcilar also emphasized that the strategy is a legal obligation and informed that with the support of the donors (ECLO, WB), MESP will create necessary commission to draft the strategy. Minister acknowledged that there is a lack of human resources to draft the strategy, thus there will be close cooperation with relevant ministries (MLGA, MEF, MEM, etc.) to establish working groups.
Decision 2 Mr. Beltrani expressed his support to the proposed decision and the interest of the donor community to have the quick approval of the decision, considering status quo has impeded investments in Deçan and Kaçanik. The proposal of this decision has pleased the donor community, and they strongly support it. The donor community will not be engaged in the municipalities that break the law. Also, this decision is seen as a support to the newly established municipalities within the regional water companies. This is important for the donors that are interested to invest in these municipalities. Mr. Sejdiu, Mr. Qehaja and Deputy Minister Elezi also expressed their support for the proposed decision. WTF Vice-chairman, Minister Yagcilar expressed his support too, and requested that the process of approving the decision is speeded up.
Presentations on the third agenda item Organizational changes to the Water Task Force (presentation by Baton Begolli, water policy advisor)
3.1 Rename the support office to Water Task Force Secretariat
The participants were informed that the name of the support office to the WTF has created confusion with the stakeholders in terms of mandate and tasks of the Advisors.
It was proposed and decided that:
The office of the Water Task Force Advisors is renamed to Water Task Force Secretariat, without additional budgetary implications.
3.2 Creating a webpage for WTF within the OPM site
3.3 Dissemination of decisions taken by the Water Task Force
The participants were informed that from meetings with the stakeholders it has become apparent that they are not informed with the works of the Water Task Force.
It was suggested and decided that:
- To create a webpage of the WTF within the website of the Office of the Prime Minister.
- To disseminate the decisions of the WTF to all the water stakeholders.
Presentations on the fourth agenda item - Presentation and decision-making on the recommendations from the workshop on improving water utility revenue collection (presentation by Skënder Agolli, water utility advisor)
The participants were informed on the developments of the workshop for the improvement of the revenue collection of water utilities, held on 12th of March 2010. The proposals that were presented in this meeting were based on the conclusions that came out from this workshop.
4.1 Drafting of a policy for social cases
During the meeting, the participants were informed on the difficulties that the Regional Water Companies/RWCs are facing as a result of the lack of a policy for social cases. The drafting of such a policy would determine the framework based on which RWCs would find a long-term solution related to non payment of water bills from this customer category. For the aforementioned reasons, RWC have not been able to collect 7% of financial means and this affects directly the financial sustainability of these companies. This initiative was approved in principle from the participants, however all of them agreed that there is a need to conduct a preliminary analysis of this issue before a final decision is made.
It was decided that:
WUA with the support of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare will prepare a necessary analysis until the next Water Task Force meeting.
4.2 Government subsidies for RWCs with regard to the payment of the debts created by social cases- debt accumulated during year 2009.
Participants were informed on the conclusion from the workshop held on 12 March 2010, in which the WTF was recommended to make a decision, which would enable to include in the budget review of year 2010 the subsidies for RWCs, in order to pay the unpaid water bills for year 2009 from the social cases (the approximate amount is 1.5 mil.). The Ministry of Economy and Finance has supported this initiative, but after the discussions it was concluded that some additional analysis on the subsidies of social cases and on the financial performance of RWCs has to be completed.
It was decided that:
WUA with the support of the Ministry of Economy and Finance and in cooperation with the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare to complete the list of the social that are using the services of RWCs and to submit the needed background analysis to the WTF for decision.
Vice-Chairman of the WTF, Minister Yagcilar asked to look into institutionalizing the WTF by adding an article on the draft water law that would establish an Inter-Ministerial Water Council. This council would be a continuation of the Water Task Force and would be chaired by the Prime Minister.
Representatives of USAID appreciated the cooperation of the Government in relation to the water sector. They supported the efforts on monitoring the performance of the RWCs and expressed their hopes that the current management of the RWCs continue to work very closely with the donors (KFW, EC, and USAID) to implement the projects that are currently underway. In addition, they expressed their wish that any new developments that affect this sector be addressed in the most open and transparent way in order that donor projects may continue to be implemented with the same close coordination and openness as they have been until now. On this issue, Mr. Sejdiu explained that the process is based on the law on publicly owned enterprises and on the performance assessment, and informed the participants that the procedures are transparent.
- Rural systems The representative of the Ministry of Economy and Finance has proposed drafting of a policy for rural schemes in Kosova, based on which villages that have or do not have a water system will be identified, water sources will be registered, as well as to propose the modalities to functionalise them (where the rural water scheme exists). The deputy chairman of the WTF, Mr. Mahir Yagcilar agreed with the proposal, but he also requested to include MLGA in the process. Also the representative from SCO, Mr. Beltrani stated that there were conducted some analysis from programs funded by this office and he expressed his willingness to share these information.
It was decided that:
WUA with the support of MEF, RWCs, MLGA and MESP will collect information, analyse the situation and make a proposal.
- Next meeting: end of May 2010.