‘’The Capital City Podgorica is establishing good cooperation with NGOs”, but only on paper, as confirmed at yesterdays panel discussion ”Strong Communities”, organized by the Center for Development of NGOs.
Yesterdays event, realized as a forum for citizens and marked by a discussion on the topic of civic activism, sought to answer the question: How can we, as a civil society, cooperate with local authorities and how can citizens affect decision-making in their city? Unfortunately, the answers and complaints came only from citizens and non-governmental organisations, while local authorities remained silent. The Capital City representatives yesterday confirmed that they do not know the ways citizens can be animated to participate in the decision-making process, but only know how to promote projects and investments in the Capital City.
Representative of the Local Administration Secretariat, said yesterday that the Capital announced four public invitations for cooperation and partnership with non-governmental organizations. The Institute Alternative applied to one of these four invitations and became part of the Working Group for drafting a decision on the Capital City budget for 2018. Apart from this formality, the working group did not function, and the draft of the budget was delivered to us at the same time it was published for the purposes of public debate.
According to the Secretary of the Secretariat for Finance of the Capital City, such working group ‘’did not and could not exist”.
Institute Alternative has already warned the public of this kind of pretence of cooperation by the Capital City, when our participation in the working group was stultified, and we were faced with a fait accompli.
This simulation of cooperation has shown us that there is no communication and coordination among the local administration bodies, when it comes to cooperation with the civil sector. Also, it became clear that working groups do not operate for the help and constructive cooperation with civil sector, but for raising the statistics on the openess of local authorities, in particular the Local Administration Secretariat and the Secretariat for Finance, as well as that there has not been any accountability for this behavior.
When asked if she thinks that the goal is fulfilled by publishing an invitation for the working group by the Local Administration Secretariat, although the working group did not exist, we were left without answer from the representative of the Local Administration Secretariat.
This second attempt to simulate cooperation between the Capital City and the Institute Alternative is concerning and makes us wonder – is there any use in applying for public invitations which the Capital City uses for the mere statistics, regardless of the fulfillment of the goal itself? The goal in this case is cooperation between local authorities and a non-governmental organization on an act that is essential for the citizens of our city – the annual budget.
Yesterdays discussion also showed us the lack of knowledge and ideas among local administration officers on how to raise the interest among citizens in the decision –making process on the local level.
We expect more from our local administrations, especially from the Capital City, and we hope that instead of empty phrases, the principles of openness and public participation, will be put into function of essential cooperation between local authorities and citizens.
Public policy researcher