Reaction: The Government hides the data, while Marković hides the truth

It’s not true that there is no interest of NGOs for obtaining full information about the results of Montenegro in the field of the rule of law. On the opposite, our interest is continuously present, but the Government’s responses don’t exist, they are imprecise or secret.

That’s why we can claim that Duško Marković, the Vice president of the Government hasn’t told the truth during the TV show “Živa istina”, that aired on June 26th. While talking about alleged successes in the field of the Rule of law, stating certain data from the domain of the judiciary statistics, Marković replied to the journalist’ question claiming that NGOs don’t want to take those data and to deal with them.

On the contrary, Institute alternative has at least three reasons to claim that these statements are not true.

Firstly, the Peer Review reports made by EU experts for seven fields during current and last two years, have been classified with the designation of confidentiality, as claimed from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration in their official response delivered to us on June 16th. The Ministry has classified these reports with the designation “restricted”, but without giving any reason why they did so. The fields analyzed by the European Commission experts are rule of law, conflict of interest, money laundering and financing of terrorism, efficiency of judiciary and fight against corruption and organized crime.

Second of all, for two years in a row the Government doesn’t want to make European Commission’s opinions on some important law proposals and laws drafts, which are being adopted in the available to the public, NGOs, and not even to MPs. One of examples is the Commission’s opinion on the Proposal Law on the public procurement, which we have asked for multiple times through requests to the free access to the information, but without any success.

Finally, the members of the Working group for the Chapter 23 have very limited access to the information about realization of the measures from the Action plan for the aforementioned Chapter, as well as about the communication between the Government and the European Commission. Additionally, NGOs and all citizens are excluded from the Rule of Law Council’s sessions which are led by none other but Duško Marković.

Therefore, we invite the President of the Rule of Law Council to open the session of this governmental body to the public, and we invite the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration to make information, which are crucial for the fight against the corruption and organized crime, publicly available. Otherwise, we will legitimately keep asking the question: What is hiding in the document of the EU experts that made Government classify them as “restricted”.

Stevo MUK
President of the Managing Board

Here you can find the transcript of the statement of Duško Marković, Vice president of the Government, in TV show “Živa istina”, aired on June 26th.

TRAIN Programme: Workshop in Berlin

Our researcher, Dina Bajramspahić, attended a workshop in Berlin last week (June 23rd -27th), within the TRAIN programme -Fostering policy dialogue in the Western Balkans.

The programme brings together 12 representatives of think tanks from the Western Balkans who attended workshops on the topics of communication and skills for advocating recommendations from research before the meeting in Brussels with the decisions makers at EU level.

Participants of the programme have, among other places, visited the German Bundestag, the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Federal Government and discussed topics of interest to the Western Balkans with experts and creators of the EU enlargement policy.

More about the program can be found here.

TRAIN program: Radionica u Berlinu

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Public debate on Chapters 23 and 24

Jovana Marović, research coordinator, has participated in public debate which marked two years since the adoption of the Action plans for Chapters 23 and 24. The debate „Action plans for Chapter 23 and 24: Where do we stand after two year of implementation“ was organized by the Office of the Chief Negotiator on Accession of Montenegro to European Union, in cooperation with the Delegation of European Union and British Council.

Jovana pointed out that hitherto negotiation process within the Chapter 23 can be observed based on 4 criteria:

  • level of implementation of measures envisaged in Action plan
    provision of „measurable“ results
  • the level of transparency and the participationof interested parties in the process
  • participation of the civil sector in the working group and monitoring the measures

She added that, apart from completion of the normative framework, we are stagnating by all aforementioned criteria. By adapting the Action plans by the end of 2014, the deadlines for more than half measures related to the fight against the corruption have been postponed. Only 1/5 of measures from this part of Action plan have been completely realized, while the rule is that we lack measurable results within this field. There are not any final legally binding decisions for high-level corruption, and only one financial investigation has been started. Violations of law are not being sanctioned.

Regarding transparency, she pointed out, refusing to report quarterly on the negotiation process in Chapters 23 and 24, closing the Council for the Rule of Law’s sessions for public, refusing to publish European Commission’s opinion of Draft laws are examples which cannot serve as a good example for the quality and the transparency of the process.

Unique model of civil society direct participation within the Negotiation working groups is good. However, representatives from NGO sector in th working group are not equal with other members, since, among other things, they have selective access to information, she concluded.

Apart from Jovana, the speakers were:

  • Svetlana Rajković, Negotiator for Chapters 23 and 24
  • H.E. Mitja Drobnič, Head of Delegation of EU to Montenegro
  • Slaven Radunović, Chairman of the Committee on European integrations
  • Branka Lakočević, Head of the working group for the Chapter 23
  • Mira Cerović, Head of the working group for the Chapter 24
  • Vlado Dedović, Director of the Legal department at CeMI and the member of the working group for Chapter 24.

Reaction: Still without the prerequisites for the fight against the corruption

The reaction of the members of the Working group for the Chapter 23 related to the appointment of the Council of the Agency for the prevention of corruption

In the capacity of members of the Working group for Chapter 23, we express our dissatisfaction with the appointment of the Council of Agency for the prevention of corruption, conducted in a manner which gravely violated the law and with an obvious intention of creating the conditions for continuous political control of the fight against the corruption in Montenegro. Both Government and Parliament proved that the fight against the corruption and establishment of independent institutions are still a bite too big for both for the government and the opposition.

By electing this composition of the Council of Agency for the prevention of corruption, the Commission for the proposal of candidates, then the Anticorruption Committee, and, finally the Parliament, have violated the Articles 41 and 45 of Law on State Audit Institution, which prescribe the prohibition on the membership of state auditors in managing bodies of legal entities, which was clearly pointed out in the press release of Institute alternative from July 24th.

We believe that there was enough room for a more detailed and more transparent evaluation of experiences in the fight against the corruption when it comes to other elected members. Special omission was made when other candidate from NGO sector was not elected to the Council, which is, next to the obvious intention of preventing the election of impartial members in the composition of this body, simultaneously the neglecting of all professional qualifications of a candidate and contributions in the fight against the corruption.

Members of the Parliament of Montenegro failed yet another test in providing the prerequisites for the non-selective fight against the corruption. Even though the Government created the model of election of members of the Council of Agency for the fight against the corruption with an obvious intention to directly control the work of this managing body, the Parliament provided the legitimacy to such intention with the election of the proposed composition of Council, in addition to legal and material violations during the procedure of proposal and appointment of its members. Therefore we fear that this composition of Council cannot take care of the task of directing the impartial fight against the corruption, especially in the part of the election of director who would meet the criteria of independence.

Given that past results in the fight against the corruption are rather limited, compromising the procedure of constituting the body of Agency for the prevention of corruption and further politicization of the process are clear indicators of future course of reform projects of state institutions. That course is definitely not going in the way of creating the conditions for an efficient fight against the corruption.

We urge the MPs of Montenegrin Parliament to closely monitor the process of election and appointment because this is not the first time that during those elections they vote contrary to laws which they adopted themselves in the very same Parliament.

Ana Novaković, Centre for the development of non-governmental organisations (CDNGOs)

Jovana Marović, Institute alternative (IA)

Boris Marić, Centre for Civic Education (CCE)

Through effective control of public procurement against corruption

The Law on Public Procurement does not adequately regulate monitoring of the implementation of the agreement, which facilitates corruption, was the conclusion of the yesterday’s panel discussion “How to fight against corruption in public procurement?” organised by the Institute alternative (IA) and supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands.

On the panel discussion held in Municipality of Kolašin, Jovana Marović, research coordinator in IA, featured the lack of accountability for violating the Law on Public Procurement as another key problem in the public procurement procedures, identified in the previous faze of the research. Namely, there is no record on the contracting authorities which have been violating the law during one year, nor the type of violation that was committed. As an example, she stated the fact that the contracting authorities which have violated the percentage of use of direct agreement are being listed in the Public Procurement Administration’s Report, but the IA’s research shows that that number is correct only at the level of the sample, because the number of violations is much bigger. Also, there is no information whether these contracting authorities were sanctioned for such conduct.

According to Farisa Kurpejović from the Public Procurement Administration, the role of this institution in the fight against corruption is primarily preventive, so in that sense, transparency of the process has been recognized as a key factor. However, when it comes to disclosure of information about public procurement procedures of the enforcers of the Law annually, she added that it is not within the jurisdiction of the Administration to examine the data, but only to publish the data submitted by the contracting authorities, since the Inspection Directorate is responsible for exercising control.

Tomo Miljić, member of the Commission for the Control of Public Procurement Procedures, noted that the new amendments to the Law on Public Procurement provides great responsibility for public procurement officials, and that it is essential that they are well acquainted with the legal provisions and bylaws regulating the public procurement process. As another important problem he stated a large part of unused funds on an annual basis, due to the large number of cases brought before the Commission, and being reversed in their entirety, because of determined irregularities in the implementation process.

As the “weakest link” in the system of public procurement, Boris Marić from the Centre for Civic Education recognised the fact that only conclusion of the contract and its realization is subject to inspection supervision. “It is additionally problematic that the scope of work is too large for only two inspectors for public procurement in comparison to the total number of enforcers of the Law – 621”, Marić added.

The public procurement officers which have participated in panel discussion as particularly problematic highlighted the unclear procedures when it comes to the application of direct agreement and stressed the need for making a rulebook that would help them apply this method in public procurement procedures. They also think that it is necessary to further work on the regulations for the preparation of the annual public procurement plan, as this would reduce the number of its changes during the year. Another problem stressed by the public procurement officers, which IA has also recognised in its research is the need to strengthen human resource capacity and administrative services for procurement and tender commissions, in order to achieve more effective implementation of public procurement procedures.

Panel discussion “How to fight against corruption in public procurement?” was organised within the project Civil Society and Citizens against Corruption in Public procurement, which is implemented by the Institute alternative with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands. The project activities are aimed at strengthening cooperation between state and non-state actors in recognising irregularities in public procurement procedures and formulation of recommendations for improvement.

Reaction: State auditor cannot be appointed as a member of the Council of the Agency for the prevention of corruption

The Parliament is about to violate the Law on State Audit Institution (SAI) and therefore, endanger the appointment of the Council of the Agency for the prevention of corruption.

The Anti-corruption Committee has supported yesterday by a majority vote candidates for the Council of the Agency for prevention of corruption. The Committee has thus repeated the mistake made by the Commission for the proposal of candidates by supporting candidates whose appointment would directly violate the Law on State Audit Institution.

Namely, the Commission and the Committee have supported the candidacy of Mr Radule Žarić, long-standing state auditor in the SAI. The provisions of the Law on State Audit Institution clearly prohibits the membership of state auditors in the managing bodies of any legal entities (Article 41 and 45). It is the prohibition that applies to the members of the Senate of SAI, and according to that, it aplies to state auditors.

The Council the managing body of the Agency for the prevention of corruption, which adopts the Statute and the Act on internal organization and job classification of the Agency, adopts the draft budget and final account of the Agency, adopts rules on the work of the Agency, announces the call for the selection of the Director, appoints and dismisses Director of the Agency, etc.

The only way that the Parliament of Montenegro supports the proposed composition of the Council of the Agency is if Mr. Žurić meanwhile resigns from his position at SAI. Otherwise, the Parliament will directly violate the Law on SAI and therefore compromise the process of constituting the managing body of the Agency for prevention of corruption.

Stevo MUK
President of the Managing Board