State Audit Office: municipalities should do much more to promote civic engagement

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Latvian municipalities should improve the degree to which local residents are involved in decision-making processes, according to analysis conducted by the State Audit Office (Valsts Kontrole, VK).

The lack of involvement at local government level leads to low-quality decisions and a high risk of negative long-term consequences, a statement published on the VK website said.

"When involving citizens, municipalities operate without a strategic vision. As a result, citizens are not involved in important issues, while in other cases, citizens are not communicated with in such a way that they learn about opportunities to get involved or want to do so," said VK.

More needs to be done to promote civic activity and youth participation in local life, and infrastructure to allow people with physical and mental disabilities to participate in civic activity is also lacking, VK said.

"Everyone feels the consequences of the lack of citizens' participation, as it results in municipal decisions that do not meet the needs of citizens, are incomprehensible to citizens, or have been made hastily," said Edgars Korčagins, a member of the State Audit Council. 

"Local governments have an essential role in working with young people, in order to bring our future citizens to a democratic and inclusive administration in a timely manner, with targeted and active involvement. Unfortunately, in the audit, we conclude that local governments, both before the administrative territorial reform and after, do not promote a more civically active young generation," added Korčagins .

As a result of the audit carried out by VK, the 11 municipalities included in the sample – the cities of Jūrmala and Rēzekne, plus Ādaži, Cēsis, Dienvidkurzeme, Dobele, Gulbene, Kuldīga, Limbaži, Madona and Rēzekne counties were given 116 recommendations for promoting citizens' participation.

The full report can be read at the VK website.

 

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