VIDEO: Panelists’ speeches at the panel discussion “Good Governance and SEE 2020 Strategy”

The speeches from the panel discussion “Good Governance and South East Europe 2020 Strategy” can be found in the videos below.

Panel discussion is organized within the project “Governance for Growth – It Depends On Us!” which is being implemented by Institute alternative with funding by the Regional Cooperation Council under implementation of RCC’s South East Europe 2020 Strategy.

The Implementation of the SEE 2020 Strategy: Citizens in focus

According to the regional public survey, 82% citizens in Balkans think that the laws are not being applied to all population equally, it was pointed out at the panel discussion “Good Governance and South East Europe 2020 Strategy”.

The discussion was held today in Podgorica, within the project “Governance for Montenegro’s Growth: It Depends On Us”, which is being implemented by the Institute alternative with the financial support of the Regional Cooperation Council under implementation of SEE 2020 Strategy.

Stevo Muk, president of the Managing board of IA has reminded that this regional strategy was modeled after the European Union 2020 Strategy. Its key objectives are related to the improvement of the living standard, establishment of the balance of trade, job creation and trade promotion.

“In order to achieve the main objectives of the Strategy, the public administration reform and the efficient service are among the key preconditions. In that light “Governance for Growth” has been presented horizontally as a cross-cutting issue of this strategic document carrying the message that the economic growth depends on the good governance of our institutions and the extent of the enforcement of the rule of law“, Muk pointed out.

Participants of the event have emphasised that it is crucial to harmonise the objectives of the Public Administration Reform Strategy, which is currently being developed, with the objectives of the SEE 220 Strategy.

Dragana Ranitović, Director-General in the Ministry of Interior said that the Ministry will support all regional initiative which are aiming to establish professional and efficient public administration.

Saša Šćekić, Deputy Secretary General at the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro has pointed out the challenges of the service delivery on the local level as well as to the local government reform.

“The problems are reflected in the lack of trust of citizens in local government, and in that sense, reliability and predictability are key functions that need to be ensured through the development of national and local government,” he said.

Nand Shani, from the Regional School of Public Administration (ReSPA) has pinpointed the responsibility of each national administration for the implementation of the SEE 2020 Strategy, since the Government are the subject who have taken the obligation to achieve the defined goals.

Therefore, only if the objectives of the Strategy are deeply rooted in the national activities, they can be achieved – Shani emphasised.

He has also reminded the participants of the results of public survey “Balkan Barometer” which has showed that 74% citizens in the countries of Western Balkans think that the law are not being applied efficiently, while the 82% of them consider that equality before the law does not exist.

Furthermore, more that 50% citizens consider administrative procedures as inefficient.

One of the panelists was Milena Garthley, the representative of NALAS, Network of Associations of Local Authorities of South-East Europe, who said that the regulations required for accession to the European Union are mostly being applied at the local level, and that the units of local government are closest to the citizens.

“The true question is whether there is enough capacity in the local governments to use EU funds for the best purposes possible” she warned.

IA’s partners within TEN (Think for Europe Network) – Aleksandar Petar Jovanoski, representative of the European Policy Institute from Skopje and Dušan Protić on behalf of the European Policy Centre from Belgrade have also participated at our panel discussion.

Referring to the good governance challenges and the implementation of the SEE 2020 Strategy in his country, Jovanoski said that the political will and the financial means are the key elements for the implementation of the Strategy on the national level.

“At the moment, none of the preconditions are fulfilled”, he added.

Dušan Protić has pointed out the paradigm shift brought by the SEE 2020 Strategy.

“I think the success of the Strategy is precisely that – it focuses on the economic aspects of growth and development, which is often in the process of EU integration of secondary importance in the shadow of the institutional and legal reform,” said Protić.

The key message of the event was that, in the light of the “Governance for Growth”, the all-pervading pillar of the SEE 2020 Strategy, public policies which have the citizens in their focus should be the priority, such as establishing the system for the more efficient resolving of citizens’ complaints and the introduction of the instruments for the quality management in the public administration.

Panel discussion is organized within the project “Governance for Growth – It Depends On Us!” which is being implemented by Institute alternative with funding by the Regional Cooperation Council under implementation of RCC’s South East Europe 2020 Strategy. The views expressed during the event can in no way be taken to reflect the official opinion of the Regional Cooperation Council.

Announcement: Panel discussion “Good Governance and South East Europe 2020 Strategy”

Institute alternative organizes a panel discussion “Good Governance and South East Europe 2020 Strategy” with the support of Regional Cooperation Council. The event will be held on Tuesday, September 29th, starting at 11 am, in the hotel “Ramada” (Lesendro hall). The objective of the project is to contribute to the enhancement and promotion of the SEE 2020 Strategy, particularly of the “Governance for Growth”, which is a precondition for the fulfillment of aims set by remaining four pillars of the Strategy.

The panel discussion will be opened by the introductory remarks of:

  • Stevo Muk, President of the Managing board of Institute alternative
  • Dragana Ranitović, Director-General, Ministry of Interior
  • Saša Šćekić, Deputy Secretary-General, Union of Municipalities

The speakers of the panel will be:

  • Nand Shani, Programme Manager, Regional School for Public Administration (ReSPA)
  • Milena Garthley, Programme Officer, The Network of Associations of Local Authorities in South-East Europe (NALAS)
  • Aleksandar Jovanoski, Programme Coordinator, European Policy Institute, Skopje
  • Dušan Protić, Programme Manager, European Policy Centre, Belgrade

The moderator of the discussion will be Milena Milošević, public policy researcher at Institute alternative.

Panel discussion is organized within the project “Governance for Growth – It Depends On Us!” which is being implemented by Institute alternative with funding by the Regional Cooperation Council under implementation of RCC’s South East Europe 2020 Strategy.

Press Release: Publicity of Public Administration Reform: Poor discussion about an incomplete document

The discussion held today on the Draft Strategy on the Public Administration Reform for the next four-year period resembled a presentation of an incomplete document, which was neither attended by interested citizens nor it has offered enough material to the attendees, taking into consideration that the key segments of the Strategy have not been determined yet.

Besides the representatives who attended the meeting on behalf of Institute alternative, no other representative from the civil society took part in the discussion.

Only two suggestions regarding the Draft Strategy were presented during the discussion and both of them had an affirmative and positive connotation. We should point out that the draft has been put on public debate in the very beginning of August, in the period of vacations.

Milena Milošević from IA has pointed out that the document is still very imprecise, and lacks both indicators and the measurable aims, although, in principle, it follows the structure of the Principles of Public Administration for the countries of the region.

Marko Sošić, also from IA, has emphasised the specific shortcomings of this document when it comes to defining the priorities in management of public finances and coordination of the public policies. “The baseline indicators are missing. If we had them, we could talk about the current state of affairs and the problems we want to solve, and thus we could define what exactly are the measures from the Strategy trying to achieve”, said Sošić.

It was said that there is still considerable work to be done, such as setting up benchmarks and concrete indicators on the basis of which will be to monitor implementation and success of the new strategy. However, the Ministry of Interior announced that this next phase of work will not be followed by a new round of public hearing.

It seems that the intention was to check a to do: organise an event, announce a call regardless of the fact that the outreach was poor, that stakeholders were not motivated to show up or provide contribution. Institute Alternative consider that this is not the right approach to a true public consultation about a strategic document.

Citizens are not interested to find more about a Strategy that should streamline the efforts to reform the work of administration, that affects their daily lives: ranging from the speed with which will be able to register a company or get personal documents, to the equal treatment when applying for work in state bodies.

As a reminder, Stevo Muk, president of IA’s Managing Board, was appointed as a NGO representative in the working group for drafting the Strategy. However, he left the first meeting of the working group held in late July, after being informed about the intention to prepare the draft Strategy and start the public debate in only three days. It turned out that such haste was unjustified, additionally by today’s admission that the document under public discussion was not whole, that there are still parts missing.

We will submit our suggestions in a timely manner (deadline to submit comments on draft PAR strategy expires on October 1st), before the official end of the public debate. However, we will not give legitimacy to this approach, according to which an incomplete and early draft of an important reform document is put to a public debate, with a minimum of adherence to legal requirements. On the other hand, the remaining work that will provide substance to the general guidelines from the strategy is left to a selected few, without public insight.

Institute alternative Team

Press Release: Corruption in Public Procurement hidden behind the legal framework

Two thirds of citizens of Montenegro thinks that the misuses and irregularities in the field of public procurement are frequent, which corresponds with the findings of one-year monitoring conducted by Institute alternative. Nevertheless, misdemeanor and criminal responsibility are lacking.

The irregularities whose existence we have determined in the report on public procurement show that often the data on public procurement are neither available, credible nor presented properly, which effects the transparency in this area. Moreover, the poor implementation of the legal solutions increases the risk for corruption, while contracting authorities often remain unsanctioned thus not being held responsible for their actions. The system as such allows that this actions remain hidden and presented within the legal framework. The citizens are not being timely and precisely informed about the state of affairs in the area of public procurement, which is the result of bad dynamics, form and the content of reporting. Public Procurement Portal, as the main instrument where documents relevant to the process are published is neither sufficiently developed nor reliable.

Public Procurement Administration (PPA) in its annual report corrects the information of the contracting authorities, but it does not specify the errors, thus they are re-appearing year in year out. The PPA itself offers the wrong figures on the total budgets for public procurement, which we have confirmed by comparing this data with the individual reports of the subject obliged to act accordingly to the Law on Public Procurement. Furthermore, in its annual report PPA states only some violations of the Law on Public procurement, and at the level of the sample only. The interested public cannot gain insight in the complete record of subjects who have been punished on the grounds of misdemeanor responsibility

The number of irregularities in public procurement procedures is even increased due to poor control of the procedures and contracts, since this is under the competence of the Inspection Directorate, which employs only two inspectors in charge for public procurement.

The citizens of Montenegro also think that the irregularities in public procurement are frequent, and that they are being implemented under political influence. Every other citizen (49%) points out that the public procurement process takes place in accordance with party interests – which represents a significant increase compared to 2012 (34%). Two-thirds of citizens thinks that frauds and misuses in the implementation of public procurement are frequent in Montenegro, as well as three years ago when we conducted this type of research. However, compared to the 2012, there are more citizens who claim that public procurement serve as a mean to enrich the individuals and thus, legalise the corruption. More than half of the population is also dissatisfied with the control of public procurement (59%). Public survey was conducted by IPSOS Strategic Marketing for the purposes of IA, within the project “Civil Society and Citizens Against Corruption in Public Procurement” which is being implemented with the support of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

Stevo MUK
President of the Managing board

You can find the speeches from the event in the videos below:

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.

Greater Control of Public Spending by Opening Up the Local Budgets

By presenting the data on the local finances in understandable and transparent way, we want to contribute to the openness and availability of the local budgets, and by enabling insight into the public expenditure we intend to improve the civil control over them, it was announced by the representatives of Institute alternative (IA) during the press conference held on the occasion of the presentation of the project result “Monitoring of local budgets in Montenegro –

Portal Moj grad (My city) is a pioneer project of the visualisation of the data on budgets in Montenegro, launched in 2013 with the support of the Open Society Fund. The new, upgraded version, with updated data and new components, presented on September 16th 2015 in UN Eco Building, was done in the cooperation with the UNDP with the financial support of the Ministry of Finance.

The portal now presents all the updated budget data for the period 2009-2015. Through the portal Moj grad, Institute wants to provide the citizens with an alternative tool to easily and simply find the information about what their local government spends money on, how they manage funds that are collected on their behalf, as well as to provide the ability to compare the cities according to the established set of indicators. Visitors of the portal can easily gain insight into:

  • general overview of the revenues by municipalities
  • expenditures throughout the years
  • budget debts and outstanding liabilities
  • the overview of the expenditures by the organisational units within the municipalities
  • the commercial audit reports

the number of citizens by the municipality, the unemployment rate, the number of local servants and state employees and their salaries.
With the aim of displaying data in an innovative and visually appealing way, three infographics are also available on the website (“How much are the municipalities’ debts?”, “What are the municipalities spending the money on?” and “How many people work in our local governments?” ), while there is also a interactive map of Podgorica, including the projects from the Strategic development plan of the Capital City of Podgorica.

Public policy researcher, Marko Sošić, has explained why has IA decided to visualise the Strategic development plan. “Our goal is to clearly present to the citizens the project planned to be realised until 2017. Furthermore, this is the key document for the planning of the capital budget which especially important to the citizens, since its effects can be seen in the immediate environment.

During his speech, Stevo Muk, president of the Managing board of the Institute alternative, has pointed out that the main reason for the launching of this website is the fact that the municipalities have not been doing their work when it comes to the transparency and presentation of the budgetary data to its citizens. Apart from the public critic and advocacy in the area of transparency, we did not want to wait for the local governments to change their behaviour patterns. We have build the platform – unique address for all local budgets which enables easy and simple research, comparison and analysis of the available data.”

The Director-General of the Directorate for the budget within the Ministry of Finances, Nikola Vukićević, has pinpointed that this activity of IA has coincided with the activities that Ministry is conducting with all local self-governments within the process of the debt restructuring. He added that the use of the new technology with the aim of the greater availability of data gives the citizens the possibility and financial markets to assess the financial position of local self governments.

Sanja Bojanić, Democratic Governance and Economy and Environment Team Leader at UNDP Montenegro, said that the existing oversight mechanisms, such as discussions at the local governments and public discussions, external and internal audits, are not being used in their full capacities, and that the citizens are still facing obstacles while trying to gain an insight into the budgetary data.

Sošić reminded that the State Audit Institution’s (SAI) report show that municipalities cannot always be trusted and that SAI has issued negative opinion on the number of the municipalities even when the commercial auditor has issued a positive one. “It is nearly impossible to get an objective sata on the number of the employees at the local level, their salaries and remunerations”, he concluded.

It was announced that these issues will remain in the focus of IA’s work, as well as that IA will include public enterprises and institutions in its research activities, particularly the way they are spending the money, how they employ, conclude the contract and work within their competencies.