By: Bojana Jankovic
Arilje, Nov.14, 2009, (Serbia Today) - In 2007, the Government of the Republic of Serbia started sweeping tax collection reform aimed at creating a better tax base by boosting property tax. To this end, the MEGA program was created in which the transferred responsibilities for the collection of property tax with national tax administration was shifted to a system administered by local tax government. Directors of the MEGA program selected Arilje as the first in a group of eight municipalities to implement the program. A total of 32 munincipalities are scheduled to implement the MEGA program, and benefit from the added economic capacity for encouraging local economic development.
Arilje is a city and municipality in the Zlatibor region, in Western Serbia, at the confluence of the mountain rivers Rzav and Moravica. Arilje is rich in tourist potential due to the natural beauty of its surroundings. Arilje created an economic development strategy spanning nearly ten years, from 2006-2015, as part of the reforms brought on by the over haul of the tax collection and tax base development.
On Wednesday, November 11th 2009, Dr Mirjana Avakumovic, mayor of Arilje and Edwin Hyde, representative of the MEGA program, have signed an agreement on the implementation of the project of improving the efficiency of collections of taxes on property. Hyde points out that much of the assistance from the MEGA program to local tax authorities will be technical in nature.
“The MEGA program will provide support to Arilje in the procurement of data and evaluations of state held real estate by employing local people who will work on collecting information. In all local governments we met with the problem of the formation of updated and complete list of property owners, and the MEGA program goal is to create a good fiscal census. In addition, we offer professional help for input and database creation,” stated Hyde when asked to describe the current stage of MEGA’s efforts in Arilje.
The ambitions of the MEGA appear to be reaching to one of the key elements in stimulating local economies by creating local incentive and oversight to encourage business development. The added technical expertise brought from outside experts through the MEGA program will be giving a long overdue reform to the Serbian State’s financial arm.