Adoption and entry into force in June 2017 of the Regulation on Criteria, Standards and Procedures for Public Financing of NGOs has for the first time created a merit-based public funding system for NGOs in Kosovo, including clearly defined rules and transparency. This document marks a significant step forward by defining the rules for supporting civil society organizations through public funds, according to standards of transparency, meritocracy and full implementation of applicable laws. Under the Regulation, all budget organizations at central and local level, based on the general criteria and procedures set out in it, are obliged to:
• Provide financial support to non-governmental organizations (NGOs) within the annual budget;
• Plan the ways and areas of support within the approved budget;
• Announce open calls, based on clear criteria and standard forms of application, accompanied by detailed application guidelines;
• Evaluate applications based on a standardized assessment system and through Evaluation Commissions, which should include external experts;
• To inform all stakeholders and the public about the results of the evaluation, the supported organizations, the amounts of funding, the nature of the supported projects, etc.;
• Address eventual complaints;
• Sign contracts for each supported project or program;
• Monitor supported projects and programs and to collect and analyze received reports;
• To prepare annual financial support reports for NGOs with detailed information on areas and amounts of support, beneficiaries, geographic and thematic distribution, implementation of criteria and procedures, etc.
The regulation is accompanied by detailed implementation guidelines, including forms and other materials required for the uniformed implementation by all public institutions. The regulation of the public financing of civil society organizations not only prevents public funds from being granted without rules and criteria, but at the same time shows the readiness of the state to build formal mechanisms of cooperation with civil society, as well as the recognition of the contribution of this sector in the overall development of the country. Since this regulation came into force only in the second half of 2017, this year’s implementation was only initiated by a very limited number of institutions. Their experience proved that despite the introduction of a completely new system for allocating public funds to NGOs, the envisaged requirements and procedures are viable and produce transparency, meritocracy and greater chances for real changes from funded activities.