A NEW academy on local governance aims to educate and train municipal staff in new working practices.
Officially set up a month ago as a not-for-profit company, the academy plans to offer seminars on how staff should exercise their duties including how to go through the right channels for any decision making processes.
“There never used to be a teaching institution that would provide any teaching that is so necessary in this field,” general secretary of the Local Governance Academy (ATA) Panayiotis Damianou said.
Comprised of the Union of Cyprus Municipalities and the Union of Cyprus Communities that have a 40 per cent share each and the Larnaca District Development Agency that has a 20 per cent share plus the managerial role of the academy, Damianou said the decision to set up ATA came after a realisation that staff were not being properly utilised or receiving systemic training. This led to poor development within the municipalities and poor liaison with other organisations.
Having managed to secure €60,000 from the interior ministry, discussions are ongoing with the finance ministry to receive a further €200,000, according to Damianou.
“We have only had positive reactions so far and we thank the Minister of Interior Socrates Hasikos who has called this a huge step.”
Apart from funding they hope to receive from the EU, ATA also wants to be at least partially self sufficient by receiving finance from the municipal unions themselves.
Some areas of study include agricultural development and informing the public and training municipality staff on the changes that will follow if and when the autonomy of municipalities’ bill is passed.
Courses are expected to start in September but Damianou said these were only a few of their many plans.
“Following the agreement with the troika, things are done differently now. Staff need to file more reports, fill in financial and expenses forms and this is all new. They need to be trained to complete them correctly.”
On July 21, a meeting will be held at the Union of Cyprus Municipalities offices where academy members are expected to submit their first proposals and have their say on what training programmes should be introduced.
Damianou did not rule out cooperation with the Cyprus Academy of Public Administration if they were willing to do so.