The Law still applies when money comes from abroad?

The Administrative Court, upon the initiative of Institute Alternative, annulled the decision of the Agency for Prevention of Corruption

The Agency for  Prevention of Corruption will again decide on the IA’s initiative against the current MP, and former minister Predrag Bošković, suspecting that he had violated the Law on Prevention of Corruption by having illegal incomes around 130 000 euros from international handball organisations in recent years.

It will do so after the Council of the Administrative Court has accepted IA’s lawsuit at the beginning of the month and annulled the decision of the Agency from October 2019.

“The Agency will issue a new decision, in which it will decide if the public official Predrag Bošković violated the Law“, it is said in the response to newspaper “Vijesti“ from the institution headed by Jelena Perović.

Institute Alternative believes that he had illegal incomes against the Law, as Vice President of the Executive Board of European Handball Federation (EHF) and member of the Executive Board of International Handball Federation (IHF).

According to the regular annual property reports that he submitted to the Agency, he reported that from two handball federations he had incomes about 130 000 euros.

The institution headed in that time by Sreten Radonjić rejected IA’s request in October 2019 as unfounded, claiming that the Law does not apply to international bodies.

Article 12 of the Law on Prevention of Corruption says that a public official shall not be a president or member of the management body or supervisory board, executive director, member of management of public companies, public institutions or other legal entities. On the basis of membership in the managing or supervisory bodies, public official cannot legally generate income or other compensation.

IA claims that the legal norm does not allow different interpretations and that the Law does not distinguish between domestic, foreign and international sports associations.

However, the decision signed by Agency’s Assistant Director, Savo Milašinović, states that was the reason for rejecting Institute’s request.

“The EHF is a governing body that controls handball federations of European countries, and it is the part of IHF, while the IHF is an administrative and control body of international handball. Therefore, these are international bodies to which the Article 12 of the Law refers and does not apply“, it is stated in the explanation.

In the lawsuit from 2019, in which “Vijesti“ had access to, President of the Managing Board of Institute Alternative, Stevo Muk, stated that it remains unclear how the Agency made the final conclusion that this provision does not apply to that organisation, because they do not state any exceptions which would refer to an international organisation.

“If the position of Agency were legal and justified, it would be a lesson to public officials that throguh the establishment of non-profit associations based outside Montenegro they can generate additional income contrary to the provisions of the Law, and that the Agency will not open a procedure for verifying conflicts of interest of the law“, Muk warned at the time.

His argumentation was accepted from the Council of the Administrative Court, because the verdict signed by judge Muzafer Hadžajić states that “the mentioned provision, as the prosecutor rightly objects, does not make a difference between domestic, foreign and international organisations“.

“According to the court, the shortcomings of the dispositive and reasoning of the disputed decision call into question both the factual determination and the correctness of the application of substantive law, from which the legality of resolving the administrative matter itself could not be examined, which was the reason for the Court to adopt and annulled the disputed decision“, it is stated in the explanation of the verdict in which “Vijesti“ had an insight.

Bošković did not responded at the questions of “Vijesti“ to comment the verdict of the Administrative Court.

Author: Miloš Radović, Vijesti

The text was originally published in the daily newspaper “Vijesti“, as well as on the portal Vijesti.

Budget and personnel planning: Another name for optimisation

From the beginning of the implementation of the Public Administration Optimisation Plan in 2018 until today, the annual cost of salaries in the state budget has increased by 63 million, while the number of employees has increased by as much as 8%.

As the last attempt to reduce the number of employees through special planning document failed (as we warned that it would at the very beginning of implementation), in this analysis we advocate the systematic use of insufficiently used and poorly developed personnel planning mechanism as one of the alternatives.

Personnel planning in Montenegro is reduced to sporadic tabular representations of the number of employees in the state administration, without previously conducted analyses of essential staff, separated from the budget planning process. This is illustrated by the data that the personnel plans for 2018 and 2019 were adopted half a year after the adoption of the budget, but also that they are often changed without explanations.

The implementation of personnel plans is not monitored, and they do not contain important information related to engagement through consulting services and employment contracts, contracts for temporary and occasional jobs and additional work, although significant amounts are set aside for these types of contracts. The State Audit Institution also determined that modalities of hiring people for work in the state administration are used without a plan and are often abused.

The parallel adoption of the Public Administration Optimisation Plan for the period 2018-2020 shows that personnel planning is not viewed as a mechanism for optimising public administration.

Consultative hearing on the candidacy for the Prosecutorial Council

Watch the recording of the consultative hearing in which Stevo Muk participated on the occasion of his candidacy for membership in the Prosecutorial Council.

  • On the priorities of the work and recommendations for the improvement of the prosecution, such as evaluation, infrastructure, better accountability – in literal sense of financial management but also in terms of greater responsibility for those cases that did not reach indictment;
  • On the previous capture of the prosecutor’s office and controversial cases;
  • On why membership in the National Council for the Fight against High-level Corruption is not an obstacle: it is an advisory body of the Government without executive powers and we have participated in the similar bodies with other NGOs before;
  • About why prosecution needs new staff;

and on other important issues, have a listen:

Stevo Muk applied for membership in the Prosecutorial Council

Stevo Muk, President of the Managing Board at Institute Alternative, submitted an application for membership in the Prosecutorial Council, following the public call issued by the Parliament of Montenegro in accordance with the  Law on State Prosecution.

“We have been pointing out for years that the state prosecution is the key for fighting organised crime and corruption, that it is captured and as such is most responsible for the state capturing. New law also gives non-governmental organisations the opportunity to contribute to the work of the Prosecutorial Council and the reforms of the prosecution, its “decapturing” and a more efficient fight against corruption and organised crime. Those were the reasons for applying for the position of member in the Prosecutorial Council. I believe that years of experience in analysing the work of state prosecution recommend me for this position. I am grateful for the support of a group of reputable non-governmental organisations“ – stated Stevo Muk in a statement for the media regarding his candidacy for membership.

His candidacy is supported by seven recognisable and reputable non-governmental organisations with experience in the rule of law area, monitoring of the work of the prosecution and fight against corruption and organised crime. Muk is supported by the following organisations: Human Rights Action, Network for Affirmation of NGO Sector – MANS, Center for Civil Liberties, Politikon Network, Center for Investigative Journalism of Montenegro, ADAMAS and Institute Alternative.

Stevo Muk graduated at the Law Faculty (University of Montenegro) in 1998. He completed postgraduate studies at the Faculty of Political Sciences, as a Master in Political Science. He is one of the founders of the Institute alternative, and has been the President of IA’s Managing Board since 2007.

He worked with Swedish Institute for Public Administration (SIPU) in regional TACSO project.

He was founder of Center for Development of Non-governmental organisations CRNVO  and its Executive Director from 1999 till 2007. He worked as a project officer for Civil Society, Media and Roma at the Open Foundation Society Montenegro (2001).

As a consultant he worked with OECD, SIGMA, World Bank,  Regional Cooperation Council (RCC), Friedrich Ebert Foundation, The Heinrich Böll Foundation, RESPA.

Since January 2021, Muk is a member of the National Council for the Fight against High-level Corruption. He was also a member of the Council for Public Administration Reform, Council for Cooperation between State Administration Bodies and Non-governmental Organisations, as well as member of the Ministry of Justice Advisory Council for Public administration reform.

From 2019  till 2021, he was a member of the Working group for the Negotiation Chapter 24 – Justice, Freedom and Security.  He also participated in a work of numerous working groups for drafting laws and strategic documents.

He participated in the Working Group for drafting the Law on the Special State Prosecutor’s Office, in the preparation of Institute Alternative’s comments on the draft laws on the state prosecution, as well as in the preparation of the Draft Law on Criminal Procedure. He participated in the preparation of proposals for the development of the Action Plan for Chapter 23 – Judiciary and Fundamental Rights (2012 and 2015).

As a project associate he participated in the World Bank’s projects „Human Resources Management in Judiciary“ and „Functional Revision of the Judiciary in Montenegro“ in 2018.

He is co-autor of the analysis “New Government and Fight Against Corruption and Organised Crime: What Should be Done in Prosecution and Police?” (Institute Alternative, 2020). He is editor and co-autor of the analysis “The institutional Framework for the Investigations of Corruption and Organised Crime – Comparative models” (Institute Alternative, November 2013).

He is editor of the following analyses: „Cooperation Between Police and Prosecution: Stories of prosecutors, police officers and judges”(Institute Alternative, 2014), “Audit Finding Evidence and Indication: Cooperation between the State Audit Institution and Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office in Montenegro” (Institute Alternative, 2016), “Fulfilling the Form or Substance? – Content Analysis of the Annual Performance Reports of the State Prosecutor’s Office and the Police Administration”(Institute Alternative, 2012) and “Montenegro and negotiations in the Chapter 23 – Judiciary and fundamental rights” (Institute Alternative,2012).

He participated in the coordination and implementation of the regional projects Merlin and Bencher. Within those two projects, benchmarks set in the negotiation process in the field of justice were analysed. He also coordinated and participated in the project “Prosecutorial Investigation in the Western Balkans”, which was implemented in cooperation with the Association of Prosecutors of Serbia.

The Enlargement Impasse and the Necessity for its Transformation

The Slovenian presidency of the EU starting on 1 July has placed the state of the enlargement process for the Western Balkans high on its list of priorities. But the process is dangerously in a state of impasse, leaving the states of the Western Balkans and EU alike disappointed and dissatisfied. Fresh ideas are needed. Therefore the Think for Europe Network (TEN) network of leading think tanks of the Western Balkans, including Institute Alternative, joins with the Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), Brussels, to advocate a new dynamic of phased membership in the EU, with ideas for progressive functional and institutional integration based on an objective and quantified monitoring methodology.

Ideas for Transformation of the EU Enlargement to the WB

The European Union (EU) is tired of enlargement and the citizens of the region are tired of waiting for the benefits of EU integration. It is obvious that the existing approach does not yield results and that fresh ideas are needed.

In order to contribute to the new dynamics of EU enlargement to the Western Balkan, within the network of think tanks from the region TEN  (Think for Europe Network), and together with the Center for European Policy Studies from Brussels, we have prepared  set of new ideas.  Our ideas are focused on early EU integration, which will provide more tangible incentives for countries aspiring to full membership.

We advocate the adoption of a new methodology, which will enable gradual functional and institutional integration based on an objective monitoring, which will be accompanied by concrete quantitative indicators of progress.

Our ideas were sent at the moment when the EU presidency is taken over by Slovenia, which promised that enlargement will be in its focus. Read more on this link.