Institute Alternative has organised the dissemination of leaflets about public administration reform in Podgorica, in order to help citizens to be better informed about Government promises in this area
The leaflet “Our Administration by 2020” summarises the key Public Administration Reform Strategy objectives, adopted by Government in July 2016.
This “promise list”, which we have presented in our publication, includes a series of activities, whose objective is accountable merit-based administration, which spend money responsibly and respects different opinions.
A special part of the Strategy is also concerned with better governance at the local level.
According to the monitoring that IA regularly conducts in this area, during the first year of implementation of the Strategy, 8 activities have not been realized within the envisaged period.
Unrealized activities also include amendments to bylaws, regulating the procedure and manner of conducting public hearings in the process of law preparation, as well as the manner and procedure for the cooperation between state administration bodies and non-governmental organizations.
IA regularly publishes key information regarding the implementation of the Strategy on the special website Moja uprava.
In March and February this year, IPSOS Agency conducted public opinion poll and service delivery on local level, using “mystery shopping” method, which implies that specially trained interviewers assess different parameters of public services.
On the one hand, these surveys show a moderate level of public trust in public administration and the satisfactory courtesy of civil servants.
On the other hand, citizens warn to the favouritism in employment, inefficiency and corruption – as three burning problems of our administration.
Today’s action and monitoring of public administration reform is part of the project “Civil Society for Good Governance: To Act and Account!”, implemented by Institute Alternative in cooperation with the Center for Investigative Journalism and non-governmental organizations Bonum, Natura and New Horizon with financial support of the European Union.
For example, Nikšić Municipality has allocated social assistance for competition in football, publishing of collection of poems, organizing graduation exhibitions, studying in Italy and renovating offices of the local community Kočani
Royal Capital Cetinje has apparently decided to look truth in the eye and grant Montenegrin artists the status of socially vulnerable individuals. This is at least shown by the Royal Capitals’ decision on the allocation of short-term social assistance.
During the last year, the local government provided money for the opening of painting exhibition, shooting a video, professional development and international promotion of artists, all under the code of short-term assistance.
Capital has provided 500 Euros in 2016 for a video shooting, in order to promote the tenth anniversary of Montenegro’s independence, as Ivana Bogojević from NGO Institute Alternative stated.
Cetinje, however, is not an isolated case. Nikšić Municipality, for example, granted social assistance for a football competition, publishing a collection of poems, organizing graduation exhibitions, studying in Italy and renovation offices in the local community Kočani.
These decisions are made largely by the discretionary powers of the president of the municipality.
“In some local governments there are commissions which are being convoked and which discuss whether some short-term assistance is going to be granted, but at the end of the day, president of the municipality is the one who in emergency cases determines whether the assistance will be granted or not “, said Ivana Bogojević.
Revenues and expenditures of local governments are controlled by the Ministry of Finance on a quarterly basis. The Ministry, however, has no jurisdiction to assess whether the money is used appropriately.
“Given that municipalities submit reports on the prescribed forms, the Ministry of Finance has no insight into the analytics of these expenditures, nor has the right to control the purpose of these funds,” said Snežana Mugoša from that Ministry.
In Institute Alternative, however, warn that false reporting on spending for social assistance open up the space for electoral abuse. Therefore, they suggest that the short-term social assistance is awarded on the basis of Social Card.
“It is very important that these costs for short-term social assistance are linked with the Social Card, which has not been implemented at the local level yet, because in this way we could achieve successful control of their expenditure. This type of aid should be granted through the work of social workers and social centres, where this should not be a decision in the hands of the president of the municipality,” said Bogojević.
Institute Alternative believes that this model could help that short-term social assistance reaches the ones who really need it. Insight into the Social Card would facilitate the work of presidents of municipalities, who would no longer need to waste time on a creative interpretation of the social needs of citizens.
Institute alternative (IA) concluded on May 29, within WeBER project, agreements with five Montenegrin NGOs which will monitor public administration reform at the local level in the following period.
We concluded agreements with Centre for Civic Education (CCE), Association of Youth with Disabilities (UMHCG) and Centre for Democratic Transition (CDT) from Podgorica, NGO Natura from Kolašin and NGO New Horizon from Ulcinj.
“The overall goal of WeBER and the grant scheme within it, is to increase the relevance, participation and capacity of civil society organizations (CSOs) and media in the Western Balkans (WB) to advocate for and influence the design and implementation of public administration reform (PAR)”, said Stevo Muk, President of the Managing Board of Institute Alternative.
He explained that, in the long run, WeBER should help prepare and empower the civil society in the WB to continue pushing for EU membership compliant PARs in these countries once they accede the EU and external EU conditionality is no longer the driving force behind these reforms.
Ten Montenegrin CSOs applied for the grants, out of which, Selection Committee composed also of other WeBER member organisation, chose the best five applications.
“These five projects are aimed at strengthening transparency and accountability of local self-governments, particularly in terms of improving implementation of freedom of information mechanism, public participation in development and coordination of public policy and public finance management at the local level”, added Muk.
Directors of CSOs which were awarded WeBER grant, presented their projects.
Daliborka Uljarević, Executive Director of Centre for Civic Education, presented a project “I have the right to know! – Accountable municipalities in citizens’ service”, aimed at strengthening cooperation between NGO sector and local media for the better efficiency in implementation of Law on Free Access to Information in the municipalities of Kotor, Podgorica and Pljevlja.
“Existing regulation guarantees citizens’ right to information. However, in practice, local self-governments are still not showing satisfying level of accountability and transparency in their work. This makes citizens’ lives more complicated and reform processes more difficult, but also questions their legitimacy”, said Uljarević.
Marina Vujačić, Executive Director of Association of Youth with Disabilities, presented project “Ensure Resources for Inclusion”, aimed at improving conditions for the participation of PWDs and their organizations in the planning, development, implementation and monitoring of the Annual Budget of the Capital Podgorica.
“The budget of the Capital do not include expenditures / expenses for the realisation of respect for the OSI rights, or at least not to the extent necessary for the implementation of adopted acts, nor these acts contain an analysis of the necessary budget for their implementation”.
Nazif Velić, Executive Director of NGO New Horizon from Ulcinj, said that the project “Proactive Local Government and citizens’ participation” is focused on the principle of accountability which represents of the key pillars of public administration reform.
“Application of this principle is mostly reflected in right to free access to information of public interest as well as in practice of proactively publishing information in possession of state authorities”, said Velić.
During the implementation of the project, NGO New Horizon will pay special attention to monitoring of publishing information in possession of municipality of Ulcinj in Albanian language, which is a language in official use in municipality of Ulcinj.
The project “With cooperation and dialogue to better local governance”, which NGO Natura will be implementing in Municipality of Kolašin, was presented by Milan Mikan Medenica, Executive Director:
“Despite changes that recently happened in our municipality, lack of understanding of the process of public administration reform is still very evident, both among the local employees who mostly relate this process with the loss of workplaces and among citizens who do not see their own role within it. That is why the aim of the project we will be implementing is to contribute to increasing the level of citizen participation in the process of public administration reform at the local level, in municipality of Kolašin, improved cooperation of NGOs and the media with the local administration, as well as increased knowledge of the local administration about citizens’ needs.”
Dragan Koprivica, Executive Director of the Centre for Democratic Transition, while presenting the project “Managing for results in local self-governments”, which will be implemented in Municipality of Nikšić and Municipality of Kotor, explained that local policy is being created only based on what current local administration thinks is good, without consulting the citizens.
Check out TV Vijesti feature story on today’s event:
Public broadcasting service (RTCG) story:
The project is aimed at improving transparency, accountability and efficiency of these two local self – governments through increased level of citizens’ participation in developing public policy of their direct concern and in controlling their implementation”, said Koprivica.
WeBER – Western Balkans Enabling Project for Civil Society Monitoring of Public Administration Reform is a regional three-year project, financially supported by European Union and Kingdom of Netherlands.
Should NSA records be open? Dina Bajramspahić, public policy researcher answers this questions.
Do you believe that NSA should open its records; we know this has happened in most transition countries?
What do you think is the obstacle to that action? Is the state willing to do so?
What should be done in case that doesn’t happen?
I think there is no simple answer to the question of whether the records of NSA should be open and whether broader social consensus on this issue is necessary.
The positive side of it would be dealing with the past, especially with repressive character of the communist period and, of course, the system that followed. Both systems have had the unjustified victims, among others, persons who were under surveillance because of their political views, even though they had a constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech and opinion.
The difference between an individual who poses and does not pose a risk to national security is not in opinions, but in methods for achieving a particular goal, and only if the methods are violent, NSA has the statutory authority to document such action and report it to the competent authorities.
However, reason for resistance in opening the records lays in suspicion of the accuracy of data in those records, which could lead to some people being unreasonably defamed, whether there are characterized as a potential risk due to certain effects, or whether they are named as contributors to the service.
The intelligence work is considerably subjective because it is a matter of someone’s interpretation of our activity. Precisely for this reason, the law provides court and parliamentary control of the intelligence service, as well as oversight by independent institutions such as Ombudsman and the Personal Data Protection Agency. However, in Montenegro, despite good legal bases for control, no monitoring practice has been developed and none of these bodies conduct regular controls.
Since I do not believe there is any chance in opening of these files, because I do not see that there is a critical mass of citizens who would put pressure on the government in order for something like this to happen, I think it is essential that the supervisory authorities begin to do their job and, instead of citizens, oversight NSA in its premises, controlling each paper and each operation as required by law.
If you are interested in this topic, you can look at very interesting piece on eavesdropping in TV Magazine (RTCG) where our Dina Bajramspahić has spoken on the topic.
FIGHTING POLICE CORRUPTION: LEGAL SOLUTIONS AND BEST PRACTICES
Venue: Hotel Ramada, Lesendro, Blvd. Save Kovacevica 74, Podgorica, Montenegro
Time: Thursday, 1st June 2017, 10:00-12:00
PODGORICA — The POINTPULSE is organizing a conference “Fighting Police Corruption: Legal Solutions and Best Practices” that will be held on Thursday, 1 of June 2017, from 10:00 in the Hotel Ramada, lounge Lesendro, Blvd. Save Kovacevica 74 in Podgorica, Montenegro.
The aim of the conference is to encourage the public discussion among representatives of state institutions, regional initiatives, the international community and civil society in order to improve the quality of the Draft Law on Internal Affairs in Montenegro in a specific area: building police integrity. It will be discussed whether the Montenegrin Draft Law on Internal Affairs meets the international standards in fighting police corruption and what can be used from the different legal solutions in the Western Balkans. The Law on Internal Affairs is an important legal act within the “Chapter 24: Justice, Freedom and Security” of the EU accession and it is a precondition for the establishment of professional, reliable and effective police service.
These questions will be addressed at the event:
What legal international standards of police integrity good Law on Internal Affairs must have?
Whether the Draft Law on Internal Affairs in Montenegro is good enough for fighting police corruption?
What are the best legal solutions in the Western Balkans for fighting police corruption?
Are there any new innovative solutions to reduce police corruption?
What are the results of the fight against police corruption in the Western Balkans?
Representative, Regional Anti-corruption Initiative, Sarajevo (TBC)
Magdalena Lembovska from Analytica, Skopje
Sofija Mandic from Belgrade Centre for Security Policy, Belgrade
Mirela Hodovic from Centre for Security Studies, Sarajevo
Dina Bajramspahic from Institute Alternative, Podgorica
Besjana Kuci from Institute for Democracy and Mediation, Tirana
Plator Avdiu from Kosovar Centre for Security Studies, Pristine
Slobodan Georgiev, Balkan Investigative Reporting Network, Belgrade
The conference will be held in Montenegrin, Serbian, Bosnian and English. Simultaneous translation will be provided.
Please confirm your participation until Wednesday 31st May by phone +382 20 268 686 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contrary to regulation, behind closed doors and without organising the public debate which would include citizens and interested expert public, the Government adopted amendments to the Public Procurement Law and proposed some very controversial solutions, thus causing backsliding in public procurement area.
At the 26. session held on Thursday, the Government adopted Amendments to the Public Procurement Law, although the Strategy for Development of Public Procurement System 2016-2020 foreseen adoption of the new Public Procurement Law for the first quarter of 2017.
According to the Government’s Decree on the Procedure and Manner of Conducting Public Debate in Drafting Laws, the Government was obliged, after the Working Group finished drafting the law, to send the document to the European Commission for comments and then to put it on public debate, thus including citizens and interested expert public in its preparation. However, Government has failed to comply with this obligation, and adopted the document that contains some very controversial solutions in an isolated process behind closed doors.
Only a month ago, Institute alternative (IA) received and information both from the Public Procurement Administration and Ministry of Finance that the working group is still drafting the new law.
Namely, special Working Group, allegedly, is drafting the new law for almost a year now, so it is not clear why the Government opted for adopting amendments to the existing Law instead of the new one.
Also, the public was not familiar with the Government’s intention to simultaneously with the preparation of the new law adopt amendments to the existing and has been completely excluded from the process.
So, the Government adopted a document public did not know about, and the one it was preparing will, allegedly, adopt before the end of the year. Such Government’s actions confuse both national and international public and do not inspire confidence that the competent institutions are ready to seriously address the fulfilment of the obligations arising from the European Union accession process.
Despite many years of the European Commission’s insistence on improving the openness of the public procurement system in Montenegro, the Government is constantly closing it for public, discretionary deciding on procedures for spending more than 400 million euro of citizens’ money annually spent on public procurement.
As it was stated from the Government, adopted amendments envisage, among other things, shopping method and direct agreement to be deleted from the list of types of public procurement procedures. On the other hand, contracting authorities must apply public procurement procedures only for the purchases of goods or services with the estimated value equal to or greater than EUR 15,000, or when it comes to works equal to or greater than EUR 30,000, while shopping method and direct agreement are deleted from the list of types of public procurement procedures. This means that the Government actually increased the value up to which direct agreement can be concluded from previous EUR 5.000 to EUR 15.000, i.e. EUR 30.000, since contracting authorities now will not be obliged to launch a public tender for procurement bellow these values.
Proposed Amendments to the Law also incorporate the emergency procurement, which the contracting authority can perform without public procurement procedure, which, if the oversight of the competent institution remains dysfunctional and inefficient as it is now, leaves wide space for misuses and corruption.
Bearing in mind how much citizens’ money is being annually spent on public procurement – i.e. that for the last three years in Montenegro 18,000 public procurement contracts worth over one billion euro have been concluded, the public must be involved in the preparation of legislation regulating this area.
Therefore, we call upon MPs of the Parliament of Montenegro not to adopt the Proposal to the Law on Amendments to the Public Procurement Law, in order to make the Government returned to its original plan of preparing the new Public Procurement Law in whose preparation interested public and citizens would be included.