Press release: Six ministers refused to finance NGOs in 2018

The story of alleged cooperation between the Government and NGOs lasted until the first important decision in the implementation of the new Law on NGOs. Refusal of cooperation with NGOs in the fight against corruption will negatively affect the further process of European integration.

Institute Alternative (IA) calls on the Government of Montenegro to oblige ministries that have not established funding programs for NGOs in 2018 to urgently do so.

We call on Prime Minister, Duško Marković to oblige the Ministry of Public Administration, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Interior as well as other ministries, to open the process of establishing priority areas and organizing consultations with NGOs in planning of the financing of NGO programs and projects in 2018.

Last week IA warned that a third of ministries did not comply with the Law on NGOs, so they do not plan to allocate funds for NGO projects next year, which could help them formulate public policies. We remind that these ministries are the Ministry of Public Administration, Interior, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Science, Sustainable Development and Tourism.

After the IA’s response, the Ministry of Public Administration announced and confirmed that it did not plan to allocate funds for financing NGO projects in the field of “Public Administration Reform” in the following year. Therefore, the Ministry has decided which areas are not a priority for financing NGO projects, without prior consultation with non-governmental organizations.

We especially emphasize the concern for this behaviour of the Ministry of Public Administration, which is in charge of implementing the Law on NGOs, which is why IA had sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Mr. Duško Marković. IA invited him to reject the Government’s proposal to adopt the priorities of NGO financing in 2018, without involving the areas directly related to the priorities of the European integration process, i.e. the fight against corruption and the rule of law.

First of all, these areas refer to “Public Administration Reform” within the Ministry of Public Administration, and then “Public Finance Management” within the Ministry of Finance and “Development of Integrity and Efficiency of Police work” within the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Monitoring the results in these areas is of great importance for monitoring progress of the fight against corruption in Montenegro. These ministries play a key role in achieving the results in Chapter 23 – Judiciary and Fundamental Rights, Chapter 24 – Justice, Freedom and Security, as well as Chapter 32 – Financial Control. Bearing in mind the importance of the mentioned areas, we use this opportunity to emphasize the need for non-governmental organizations to contribute, through independent research and activities, to the monitoring of benefits that the public administration reform area, public finance management and the development of police efficiency will have for the citizens.

We especially warn that this decision and the response of the Ministry of Public Administration, as well as the previous actions of all of the six ministries, represent the risk and danger of possible further exclusion of the civil sector from important reform processes in Montenegro.

Stevo Muk
President of the Managing Board

IA at the regional forum “Effective Prevention of Corruption through Risk Assessment”

Dina Bajramspahic, Public Policy Researcher at the Institute Alternative, participated at the regional forum “Effective prevention of corruption through risk assessment “, held in Ljubljana on October 25th and 26th.

The Forum brought together over 60 experts from the ministries of justice, anti-corruption bodies and the non-governmental sector from the countries of Southeastern Europe to discuss together universal corruption patterns in society and specific corruption-related occurrences in the region with the aim of improving existing anti-corruption mechanisms. The main topic of the event was enhancing the effectiveness of the corruption risk assessments in public institutions and corruption proofing of legislation.

A separate panel discussion was devoted to the role of civil society in combating corruption. In this part of the forum, members of SELDI Network have presented their instruments for monitoring corruption and strengthening anti-corruption policies. Dina Bajramspahic presented the work of IA regarding the reduction of the risk of corruption in the Montenegrin Police, as well as the methodology for assessing the police integrity implemented by seven civil society organizations within the regional project ” Western Balkans Pulse for Police Integrity and Trust (POINT)”.

The event was organised by the Regional Cooperation Council and Regional Anti-corruption Initiative, in cooperation with Slovenian Commission for Prevention of Corruption under the auspice of the Regional Programme on Strengthening the Capacity of Anti-corruption Authorities and Civil Society to Combat Corruption and Contribute to the UNCAC Review Process, funded by the Austrian Development Agency.

Institute Alternative presented its project “Money Watch – Civil Society Guarding the Budget“

Institute Alternative has presented its project “Money Watch – Civil Society Guarding the Budget“, on October 6th in the EU Info Centre, which will be implemented within the period from October 2017 till October 2019.

Project activities aim at contributing to the fight against corruption by more efficient control of public spending and reducing public distrust in the efficiency of public spending.

Project activities, which IA will implement with its partners in a two-year period, aim at strengthening the capacities of civil society in efficient control of public spending through the “Open Budget School”, visualisation of budget data at the websites and , small grants program, media reporting on significant and burning issues of public money spending, as well as research and monitoring of the implementation of the Public Finance Management Program 2016-2020. The total budget of the project is 249,169.68 EUR.

The event was organised by the European Union Delegation within the civil society consultations on project programming in the upcoming period.

Alongside IA, projects were also presented by CNVP – Building a Greener Economic Environment, Centre for Monitoring and Research – CeMI, Centre for Civic Education – CCE, Centre for Development of Non-Governmental Organisations – CRNVO, Fund for Active Citizenship – FAKT, Transparency International and Network for affirmation of NGOs – MANS.

The project is implemented through the European Union Program, Civil Society Facility.

Here you can find Power Point Presentation of the project as well as link to the TV Show “NGO sector“ which broadcasted the event.

The number of employees in the state administration remains unknown

Minister of Public Administration, Suzana Pribilović recently announced that there are 38.000 employees in bodies and institutions financed from the state budget, while the exact number of employees in public administration, which will include the local level, is expected in the end of October. The fact that more than a year after the beginning of the implementation of the last reform strategy in this area, we still do not know the number of employees in the public administration, does not speak well about the scope of reforms, said Milena Milošević, public policy researcher at Institute Alternative (IA), for the “Kodex”.

“This speaks at most about unplanned employment and lack of effective oversight. The consequence is this paradoxical situation where the downsizing of the number of employees has been projected as one of the key aims of the public administration reform, without having the basic data – the baseline values, in relation to which rationalisation should be implemented”, said Milosevic.

Moreover, the Government failed to adopt the Personnel Plan for this year, thus leaving the public without proper answers to the following questions – how many people are currently working in state administration bodies and in the General Secretariat of the Government, how many jobs and positions are systematised, i.e. prescribed by the rulebooks on internal organisation and systematisation of state administration bodies and the General Secretariat of the Government and how many people and in which positions should be recruited this year. This is, to the certain extent, a backsliding, since in the past two years it was possible to find answers to at least these questions, said Milošević.

“European Principles of Public Administration for EU enlargement countries developed in 2014, have contributed to better understanding of public administration reform based on the principles. These principles relate to improving human resources management, depoliticisation and professionalisation, better public finance management, more efficient provision of public services, greater accountability and transparency, better coordination in decision-making and implementation of public policies. Each of these principles has been elaborated in a way that Montenegro cannot have much dilemma regarding their implementation,” says Milena Milosević, public policy researcher, for the “Kodex”.

Generally, our 2020 Public Administration Reform Strategy follows the structure of the European Principles of Public Administration, in order to, among other things, contribute to better provision of public services through the implementation of the new Law on Administrative Procedure and the greater use of information technologies, as well as to further strengthen senior managerial staff in the administration, which is currently on the “blurred” border between politics and professionalism.

“However, in the recently published report, we have shown that during the first 11 months of the implementation of the most recent Public Administration Reform Strategy, 60% of the activities were not implemented within the envisaged deadline. Our research findings indicate that the development and coordination of public policies and human resources management are particularly problematic areas. Employment at the local level is particularly poorly regulated, which reflects in practice – such as job announcements for already fulfilled workplaces and failures to conduct the testing procedure”, says Milena for the “Kodex”.

The EU integration process includes mechanisms which could motivate more decisive steps in public administration reform and downsizing the number of employees, but the Government has the ultimate decision on how these mechanisms will be used, says Milošević, adding that, from the beginning of the next year starts the implementation of the direct budget support of the European Union for public administration reform in the amount of 15 million euros. This should definitely motivate but also oblige the Government to deliver concrete results.

Interview originally published at

IA letter to the Prime Minister of Montenegro

We sent a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr. Duško Marković, and invited him to reject Government’s proposal to adopt the priorities of the NGO funding in 2018, without including areas directly related to the priorities of the European integration process, negotiations and strategic plans of the Government and relevant ministries. This firstly refers to the area of “Public Administration Reform” within the Ministry of Public Administration, and then “Public Finance Management” within the Ministry of Finance and “Development of Integrity and Efficiency of Police Work” with the Ministry of Interior.

Cooperation between the Police and the Prosecution is a key challenge in achieving better results in Chapters 23 and 24

State prosecutors and police officers from Montenegro and Serbia have recognized the institute of prosecutorial investigation as a more efficient and effective way of conducting the investigation. However, the cooperation between the two bodies, on which the results of the investigation depend, is still a challenge. This was concluded at a conference devoted to improving the joint work of the Prosecutor’s Office and the Police.

The two-day conference “Prosecutorial Investigation in the Western Balkans – Challenges and Solutions” was organized by Institute Alternative (IA) and the Association of Public Prosecutors and Deputy Prosecutors of Serbia, as part of a project supported by the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands.

As part of the judicial reform, prosecutorial investigation has been introduced with new legislation on criminal proceedings, that has been in force in Montenegro since 2011, and in Serbia since 2013. Starting from the common challenges in the implementation of the new concept, state prosecutors and police officers from Serbia and Montenegro exchanged their experiences at the conference, reviewed the results of the prosecutorial investigation, as well as directions for further improvement of their joint work.

Stevo Muk, president of the managing board at Institute Alternative, while opening the conference, especially emphasized that “good cooperation” between the Police and the Prosecutor’s Office does not reflect in the absence of conflict and different opinions, but in active joint work that gives results. The accent must be put on the clarification of cases, the resolution of cases and the successful processing of perpetrators of offences, which is the responsibility of these two bodies.

Goran Ilic, president of the Association of Serbian Prosecutors, emphasised the importance of cooperation between the two bodies in order to reach the desired scope of judicial reform: “Without some kind of organizational unity between police and prosecution units, we will not have the real effects of prosecutorial investigation, especially in highly profiled cases.”

Professor Vojislav Đurđic pointed out that in Serbia “legal regulations cause overlapping of many powers of the prosecutor’s office and the police, resulting in an unclear division of roles”, and he especially emphasised the problem of duality in the course of conducting evidence-based actions. Therefore, the professor considers that the formality on a procedural level needs to be abolished, and instead of the pre-investigation and investigation, one informal phase should be introduced, which would make police relations with the prosecutors conducting the investigation clearer.

The findings of the research conducted within the project “How to make prosecutorial investigations in the Western Balkans more efficient?”were presented to the participants.

Dina Bajramspahic, public policy researcher at Institute alternative, presented results of the research in Montenegro, based on interviews with representatives of the police and the prosecutor’s office. She stated that most prosecutors and police officers have positive attitude towards this kind of investigation, which was not the case in the previous period, but that there are still differences in interpretations and the shifting of responsibility for the lack of results.

Sandra Kulezić, a member of the Council of State Prosecutors of Serbia, presented the findings of a survey conducted by interviewing prosecutors and police officers in Serbia. As in Montenegro, the research has shown that both police and prosecutors consider prosecutorial investigation a good concept. However, respondents agree that the introduction of this institute is not accompanied by the necessary resources for its implementation.

Dejan Knezevic, head of the Department for the Fight against Drugs and Smuggling at the Police Directorate of Montenegro, stated that this institute has been well applied in Montenegro, as well as police cooperation with prosecutors, especially senior and special. He emphasised experience and professionalism as the key conditions for successful prosecutorial investigation, and stated that at the time of the transition to this type of investigation, all participants were not fully prepared, but they trained through its implementation.

10 godina IA

The challenges regarding the leadership role of prosecutors were considered as well, i.e. whether they are caused by lacking of prosecutors’ proactivity or control over police representatives. Thus, Ana Borovic, a representative of the State Prosecutor’s Office in Belgrade, emphasised that police officers fail to act upon the orders of the prosecutor’s offices, when they differ from the orders of the chief of police.

Gerhard Jarosch, President of the International Association of Prosecutors and the Association of Prosecutors of Austria, Roel Dona, Vice President of the Dutch Judicial Association, and Jose Albuquerque, representative of the Association of the Public Prosecutors of Portugal, shared experiences from their countries with the representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office and the Police both in Serbia and Montenegro.

The conference was attended by 45 prosecutors and police officers from Serbia and Montenegro, where a two-year project was completed with the support of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Embassy. The final results will be presented in a publication later this year.

IA Team