The Steering Committee of the European PROGRES development programme approved today during a session in Prolom Banja funding of EUR106,000 for implementation of two infrastructure projects, EUR50,000 of which have been allocated for the development of technical documentation for the reconstruction of the General Hospital ward in Vranje, whereas EUR56,000 will be put into reconstruction of the elementary school Stojan Novakovic in Blace.
The creation of technical preconditions for the reconstruction of the current pavilion type hospital in Vranje opens up the possibility for further investment, and provision of better health care to 250,000 people living in the Pcinjski District. The project in Blace is related to the replacement of old flooring in the primary school and is supposed to contribute to improvement of teaching and learning conditions for 680 pupils.
While presenting the results achieved under the programme during the previous quarter, the Committee assessed that the effects of project activities were already tangible, with infrastructure being one of the most successful areas. More specifically, 40 main designs prepared with programme’s support could attract investments of up to EUR29 million. So far, 15 local self-governments have applied at various national institutions with these projects in order to obtain funding, and four municipalities have already received donations amounting to more than EUR1.5 million.
While congratulating to the representatives of 34 Programme municipalities on the results achieved so far, Ursula Läubli, Director of the Swiss Cooperation Office, highlighted in particular the progress made in the area of good governance, and added that such diligent work on the adoption and implementation of these principles should continue in the future as well, full in line with the Memorandum of Understanding signed by all local self-governments in November 2015.
“The Swiss Government is committed to continuing its support to local self-governments in Serbia, and the better the results you achieve by the end of European PROGRES, the more certain this support and, more importantly, the higher the benefits for the population will be,” pointed Ursula Läubli. In addition, she also called on all partners to invest maximum efforts to successfully complete the Programme.
Graeme Tyndall, European PROGRES Programme Manager, stressed the importance of supporting entrepreneurship, which has also produced good results.
“So far, the Programme has facilitated the launch of 79 businesses owned by women, young people, and members of vulnerable groups, while the newly established businesses have hired nearly 100 new employees during the first few months of their business activity,” said Tyndall.
The support to local tax administrations in 16 municipalities, aimed at improving efficiency of operations and updating the taxpayer database, also shows, according to the analyses performed, that the municipalities will increase revenues by 11 per cent on average.
The European Union and the Government of Switzerland have supported social and economic development of 34 local self-governments in South East and South West Serbia through 248 projects implemented under the European PROGRES, 136 of which have been already successfully completed.
The European Union and the Government of Switzerland will support the activities of the European PROGRESS programme, which contributes to the sustainable development of the South and South West Serbia, with a total of EUR24.46 million. Approved projects will be aimed at strengthening local administration creating a favourable environment for the development of infrastructure and economy as well as improving the implementation of social inclusion and employment policy. The programme is implemented by the United Nations Office for Project Service (UNOPS).
The municipalities included in the programme are as follows: Novi Pazar, Ivanjica, Nova Varos, Priboj, Prijepolje, Raska, Sjenica and Tutin in South West Serbia, as well as Prokuplje, Blace, Zitoradja, Kursumlija, Leskovac, Bojnik, Vlasotince, Lebane, Medvedja, Crna Trava, Vranje, Bosilegrad, Bujanovac, Vladicin Han, Presevo, Surdulica, Trgoviste, Brus, AleksinacGadzin Han, Doljevac, Merosina, Svrljig, Babusnica, Bela Palanka and Knjazevac in South East Serbia.