Despite public administration optimisation measures, that are still in force and prescribe a 10 percent reduction of employees at the local level, twenty-one Montenegrin municipalities plan to hire 915 employees, during this, election year, and next year.
The Law on Local Self-Government from 2018 put municipalities under obligation to adopt human resources plans, which project the number of employees and changes in the human resources structure of local government bodies and services within them, in order to lead appropriate human resources policy and the establish hiring controls at the local level.
The municipalities that stood out in terms of required civil servants and employees are Kotor and Herceg Novi (121 each), followed by Bijelo Polje and Podgorica (94 each), Tuzi (66) and Tivat (53).
Although the Law prescribes a time limit for the fulfillment of this obligation, which is 30 days from the day of the adoption of the municipal budget, almost 80% of municipalities, 19 to be precise, didn’t adopt human resources plans within the legal deadline. The municipality of Budva did not submit a human resources plan to IA, on the basis of request for free access to information. The municipalities of Šavnik, Andrijevica and Ulcinj haven’t adopted human resources plans for 2020 even though half year from the legal deadline passed. While the first two municipalities didn’t provide an explanation for the delay, municipality of Ulcinj states that the human resources plan wasn’t adopted because “Decision on the organisation and manner of work of local government has not been made, as well as the Rulebook on internal Organisation and Systematisation.”
As we previously pointed out, saying that reorganisation is a reason for not adopting a human resources plan, beside violating the legal obligation, the municipality of Ulcinj shows a lack of understanding of the essence of human resources planning, which aim is to ensure the proper organisation of work. Particular concern is the fact that the municipality of Ulcinj hasn’t implemented its legal obligation since the entry into force of the new Law in 2018, and, as they claim in that municipality, the reason for not adopting human resources plans is waiting for a decision on the organisation. Although this municipality hasn’t implemented adequate human resources planning for the second year in a row, the institutions which are responsible for monitoring of the implementation of Law, primarily Ministry of Public Administration and Administrative Inspection, apparently haven’t done anything to improve the situation.
Although the Regulation of the content, procedure and manner of preparation and amendment of human resources plan prescribes that municipalities must include reasons for increasing number of employees in the explanation part of human resources plan, there are rare cases in which municipalities state mention for which jobs employees are needed and why. Thus, the needs for new employees are poorly explained: there is a need for 53 new employees to strengthen capacity (Tivat), 36 new employees in order to further strengthen administrative capacities (Cetinje), 34 employees will be hired because “financial resources have been provided” (Bar), while from Mojkovac thay say that 16 officials will be employed in accordance with the procedure provided by law, noting that municipality will respect the conclusion of the Government, which enabled possibility of hiring new employees, with the consent of the inner cabinet of the Government.
By introducing the Public Administration Optimisation plan, government promised to reduce the number of employees in public sector by 5% at the national level, and 10% at the local level. In this year, which is also election year, it is planned to hire 845 new employees at the national level, and 915 employees at the local level.
None of the 21 local governments which published human resources plan for 2020, expressed the need to reduce the number of civil servants or employees, with permanent status of employment. According to the latest report of Ministry of Public Administration, there is a reduction in the number of employees by 574 at the local level, while looking at the budget parameters, there is an increase in the total salary fund in municipalities from 47 million in 2018 to 58 million of euros in 2020.
Municipalities generally don’t explain whether an agreement on termination of employment with the payment of severance pay will be concluded with employees, with the exception of the Capital Podgorica, where in 2020 will come to a termination of employment on this basis for 9 employees, as well as Tivat, which states that in the previous year 3 employment agreements were terminated with employees, and that “the same is planned in 2020”. Although there is a reduction of employees with the severance pay, there is a danger that the vacancies will be filled by hiring new employees, and thus optimisation will be obstructed.
For example, the Capital states that in 2020 there will be an agreed termination of employment with severance pay for an independent correspondent for processing accounting documents, while in the next sentence it states that currently there is a process of filling a vacancy for the same position. The same case is with the independent advisor for normative affairs, whose employment in the Capital was terminated in 2019 with the payment of severance pay, while the following text states that the internal call for filling this job position was published in January 2020.
We invite municipalities and the competent Ministry to pay due attention regarding compliance with law obligations of human resources planning at the local level. Unfortunately, their engagement in this issue mainly stops at pointing out the fact that human resources planning has found place in the new Law on Local Self-Government, while dealing with the content and quality of these plans, ie their non-adoption, has been neglected. Implementing Law like this is an indicator that prescribing an obligation without respecting it, in practice cannot be assessed as progress, but as a worrying lack of responsibility, supervision and lack of will to improve human resource management.
Project Associate at Institute Alternative