Local authorities shall be consulted, insofar as possible, in due time and in an appropriate way in the planning and decision-making processes for all matters which concern them directly.
6 Local authorities shall be consulted, insofar as possible, in due time and in an appropriate way in the planning and decisionâ€‘making processes for all matters which concern them directly.
168. The Charter requirement concerning the right of local authorities to be consulted “in due time and in an appropriate way” in matters which concern them directly is not reflected in the LGA, either in general or specific cases.
169. As explained above (see section 3.1.10), there are still no institutionalised mechanisms of consultation between the central government and municipalities in Armenia. The government regularly circulates draft legislative proposals to public organisations, including the associations of local authorities, for opinion. The public council, operating under the authority of the MTAI, does not provide exclusivity in consulting local authorities, as it represents the platform for all public organisations. Although there is direct contact between the government and the national association of communities, it cannot replace a well-regulated, effective system of consultation that would provide not only relevant information to the municipalities about the issues relating to them but would also ensure their real involvement in the decision-making process prior to the relevant decisions being taken.
170. During the consultation procedure, the MTAI opposed this view and underlined that legal issues are addressed through parliamentary channels (the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, meetings with the electorate, awareness campaigns, pooling of feedback from municipalities, exchange with the central and local authorities, analyses and reporting at panel sessions, etc.) and, in addition, administrative procedural and application issues are tackled through methodological support, circulation of elucidatory materials by line ministries co-ordinated by the MTAI, and topical meetings (on site and centrally). It also pointed to the website www.e-draft.am, established by the government as an online platform for gathering feedback from municipalities, and to the Official Gazette (Bulletin) of the government periodical Procurement Bulleting. It further argued that there are various specific consultation practices established by law that regulate a number of important aspects of interaction between the government and municipalities, for example in the area of legislation development, budgeting and local socio-economic development. The MTAI stressed that several initiatives were proposed by municipalities themselves through those channels (for example, the LED project proposals for joint funding of specific projects and the subventions).
171. The MTAI pointed out that although no association can play an exclusive role in these consultations, the quality of consultations should be improved to establish a better dialogue between the parties concerning public policy making.
172. However, although there are specialist national community organisations, financial officers and community council members, the Association of Communities of Armenia is the only nationwide association representing the interests of the municipalities. The rapporteurs heard that contact between the government, its line ministries and the national association is occasional and depends on the governmental will, which makes local authorities vulnerable. As the rapporteurs were made aware, in some cases the municipalities concerned learned about the ongoing amalgamation process from the press.