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The Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pej?inovi? Buri?, has issued a toolkit for governments across Europe on respecting human rights, democracy and the rule of law during the COVID-19 crisis.
COVID-19 Toolkit (available in several languages)
UMT Executive Council online meeting was held on 23 March with the only agenda of COVID-19 pandemic. Decisions on debt restructuring of Municipalities for uninterrupted municipal services, providing low-interest loans to municipalities from ?LBANK and/or other public banks, reduction of taxes on fuel which is used by municipal public transportation vehicles were adopted.
The outcomes of online meeting of the Council were transmitted to the Presidency and related Ministries and contributions were made to the decisions of government in connection with Municipalities.
The immediate responses taken by the Presidency helped Turkey to avoid spread of the pandemic in due time.
Suspension of deductions which made from the general budget tax revenues of the municipalities for their debts provided municipalities an indirect revenue of 600 million € in advance. In this way, municipalities were able to finance their efforts in combating the COVID-19 outbreak.
Representatives from UMT attended Committee meetings of The Grand National Assembly of Turkey during discussions on Law No. 7244 on the Mitigation of the Impacts of the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic on Economic and Social Life and the Law on Amendments to Certain Laws which was published on the Official Gazette on 17 April 2020.
UMT’s webpage and social media accounts were used actively in communicating the decisions made and communiques published, by the Presidency, the Ministry of the Interior, Ministry of Health and the Ministry of the Environment and Urbanization to member municipalities.
In order to share the recent developments and best practices with member municipalities, COVID-19 sub-pages on UMT's website was launched. “Congress Hub of Partners' Action” is accessible beside associations' dedicated web pages of UCLG, Metropolis, and UN-Habitat Live Learning Series and other relevant organisations.
Part of the educational activities that have been carried out since 2009 in line with the corporate identity of “Municipal Academy” is being conducted through the “Distance Learning Centre” that has been located in UMT headquarters since 2017. With the spread of the pandemic, and in accordance with the measures taken throughout the country, on-site and class education has been temporarily discontinued, and all planned educations have started to be provided using the distant education infrastructure. Far from causing any disruption in the education provided by UMT to mayors, municipal council members, administrators, and employees, UMT has turned the situation into an opportunity thanks to the distant education infrastructure already established. In this process, distance learning is being provided by experts under headings such as “Crisis Management Education”, “Web Seminar on Post-COVID-19 Public Transport”, “Climate Change”, “Corporate Involvement and Motivation Training”, and “Animal Rights in Municipal Legislation”. 19,500 municipal personnel has participated to online educations on 38 different subjects.
In addition to planned education programmes, during this process well-attended online events, such as the “Healthy Cities and Mayors Meeting”, the “Conference on Social Risks and Opportunities in Cities after the Pandemic”, and the “Mayors’ Immigration Platform 2nd Technical Workshop” were organized.
A series of online meetings attended by mayors are being held by UMT President and Gaziantep Metropolitan Mayor Ms. Fatma ?ahin for the purpose of internationally sharing knowledge and experiences within the scope of the fight against the novel coronavirus pandemic.
In accordance with the relevant Presidential communique, UMT has adopted a distant and rotational working model without disrupting own services. Additionally, the personnel’s financial and social rights and benefits, as well as their other personal rights remain reserved.
Strong leadership of the Presidency of the Republic of Turkey and efficient coordination capacity of local administrations both with the Government and with each other resulted in effective precautions yielding in minimal damage to the public.