After the really stormy developments that all humanity lives in the midst of an unprecedented pandemic, one thing is for sure.. That the world is no longer as we knew it. That is why I find the motto of our Conference extremely appropriate: "People are changing Local government is coming forward".
The first part of the slogan is therefore self-evident. But the big challenge we all have in front of us is to put the second part of the slogan into practice, with self-government coming forward. But this is not a matter of autopilot or law enforcement but a matter of conquest and political choices.
Political choices for a local government that will have gained its financial independence so that it can stand on its own two feet and be politically accountable to the citizens and only to them..
Political choices for a local government that knows that it will have the human and financial resources to exercise its responsibilities. Responsibilities that are not blurred between the A 'and B' Grade, nor are they overlapped by the Decentralized Administration which should have no reason to exist.
In order for the local government to come forward, it is necessary, among other things, to board the digital transformation train in time. We need to conceive new forms of services in a timely manner, communication and service beyond the conventional ones we have known for so many years.
We need to have a distinct and enhanced role in the main financial instruments such as the NSRF and the Recovery Fund, so that we can determine our development priorities and the projects we want to launch. But in order for all this to happen, we know that we need to set up internal implementation mechanisms in a timely manner that will be based on human resources capable of meeting these challenges..
With these thoughts at the level of the great strategic directions, I would like to be more specific, dear colleagues.
I start with the issue of the rapid rise in fuel and electricity prices. It is the issue that concerns the whole of Greek society at this time and we as a local government can not but raise it urgently, as the need for and immediate action to address the problem is now urgent.
Do not forget that both the operation of the Municipalities and the DEYA, depend on current values. The use of electricity in DEYA in particular, exceeds it 21% of operating costs. This simply means that if timely measures are not taken, these costs will have to be passed on to the citizens as it is impossible to absorb this increase with the data so far..
According to the above, We fully support the proposal to subject DEYA and the Municipalities to electricity tariffs without an adjustment clause as well as to the beneficiaries of reduced ETMEAR. In the same context, we ask that the reduction of VAT on water be considered immediately in order to actively support our citizens.. We also demand the reinstatement of the measure of refund of the Special Tax for the Consumption of Agricultural Oil.
But we also need to send a strong message of support to our farmers in the face of rising energy costs.. For this reason we propose the matching of electricity prices for irrigation consumption with the tariffs of TOEB. Με τον τρόπο αυτό θα περιορίσουμε την τάση αύξησης των αγροτικών προϊόντων που φθάνουν στον τελικό καταναλωτή.
We also support the idea of the establishment and operation of energy communities by local authorities, citizens, social actors, who can be both producers and consumers of energy. However, this project needs both institutional and financial impetus from the NSRF and the Recovery Fund..
Now, if we want the Local Government to play an essential role in the development of the country, the fields should also be clarified, the conditions and the available resources of the Recovery Fund and the new NSRF for the Municipalities. To do this the first condition is an effective technical assistance mechanism.
The mechanism set up by EETAA is moving in a positive direction, however it has two problems. First it is very small in number and second it is Athenocentric when it 90% of its executives is in Athens. In this context, we strongly support the idea of establishing such technical support mechanisms at the level of each regional unit with the aim of on-site support for smaller municipalities, especially.
Another issue I would like to raise is the provision for municipalities to impose landfill fees from 1the January 2022 with gradual increase, which will start from 20 euro / tonne 2022 and will reach 55 euro / tonne 2027. There is no doubt that the measure is positive in its conception.
However, we consider its implementation to be extremely difficult at this stage, as the municipalities are unable to respond administratively and financially to the implementation of the measure. For this reason we propose its imposition after the completion of this Programming Period, that is, at its end 2023.
We estimate that there will be the same practical problems with the implementation of the "I pay as I fly" system from 1the January 2023, which will allow municipalities to set fees based on the amount of waste generated by each citizen and not based on the square footage of the property. And this measure is positive. However, its implementation will have problems if a clear and uniform framework of application is not formed horizontally for all municipalities in order to work effectively for the whole country..
We also can not help but raise the issue of the uncontrolled development of photovoltaic parks and wind turbines, especially in areas such as Western Macedonia, which has high voltage networks., able to respond to this surge.
Let's be clear here. From the beginning, we are not at all opposed to green growth. In fact, the opposite. We support it warmly and over time.
However, we are strongly opposed to the lack of special spatial planning for RES, we are strongly opposed to the non-binding role of the opinion of the municipalities in the location and installation. We are also opposed to the lack of a structured and unified framework of compensatory benefits for municipalities and local communities.
Close, Friends, with the most critical issue which is none other than the issue of our economic survival. Based on official data from the Ministry of Interior, the 2020 the total financial losses of the municipalities amounted to 569 from. euro. Of this amount, the 206 from. euros came from losses of own revenue and 363 from. euros from an increase in costs due to a pandemic.
The total amount we received as aid due to the pandemic to date, amounts to 170 from. euro. So the question that arises is how the remaining amount of will be covered 400 from. euro; Where will this financial deficit be covered from?;
We are waiting for specific answers to these questions and not general reports. In other words, we would like to hear that this amount will come from an additional return from ENFIA or VAT for example.
Also representing Western Macedonia, an area of Northern Greece predominantly mountainous, I can not but emphasize the need for emergency funding for school heating costs, as rising fuel prices have caused problems in all the country's municipalities. But we all understand that the climatic conditions are not the same throughout the country. For this reason, we ask for a similar treatment.
Mister President, dear friends, With these thoughts I would like to wish a productive conference which will put into practice its central motto and will bring the Local Government forward to meet again with the needs of the society and its people at the local level..
Thank you very much.