Implementation of measures from the Action Plans for Chapters 23 and 24 costs money – money that has to be foreseen in the national budget. To ensure that the funds are planned accordingly, it is necessary to revise the Action Plans in the part relating to the deadlines and budgets of specific measures.
Action Plans for Chapters 23 and 24 represent a novelty in the field of strategic document preparation in Montenegro, considering that for the first time a systematic effort has been made to provide an estimate of funds necessary for implementation of each planned measure, as well as the source of their funding. This is done in a greater detail only for the measures planned to be implemented in 2013 and 2014, while for the ones envisaged to be realized in the years after 2014, only approximate sums were given.
Costs in the Action Plan refer to fees for various working groups; recruitment of new employees, or remuneration for current employees who are in charge of implementing the measures; purchase of equipment; funding trainings, study visits and campaigns; as well as construction or reconstruction of infrastructure facilities.
However, by thorough examination of the manner in which budgeting for the measures from the Action Plans for Chapters 23 and 24 was made, we have detected number of problems.
- The majority of our objections is related to determining when the expense will be borne and for which period it should be foreseen. Particularly problematic is determining periodicity of repetition of costs (quarterly, annually, continuously, etc.), which is in several places illogical, does not correspond to the essence of the activity to which it relates, or is not clearly defined.
- At certain points, the deadline stated in the description of the measure is not aligned with the deadline necessary to provide funds.
- Division of costs per year is in certain places unclear, since the amount of funds per year is not defined: although it is obvious that the implementation of a certain measure will bring about costs in each year of implementation, the costs are often foreseen only for the first year of implementation. This problem is particularly frequent when it comes to measures which involve budgeting new recruitments. With these kinds of measures, only the first year of employment contract is budgeted, which gives the impression that the realization of these measures will incur costs only in the first year of employment.
- At certain points, the budget of the measure is calculated simply as “regular funds from the budget”.
- With regard to some measures, it is incorrectly stated which institution will bear the cost of their realization. (e.g. It is stated that the Ministry of Justice will bear the cost of the work of the Parliament when it comes to bills deliberation).
- In some cases, the budget of a certain measure is referred to as the “budget of the particular authority”, without specifying the actual costs of implementation of measures. For instance, it is stated that the cost of implementation of a certain measure will be borne by the Ministry of Interior, but it is not defined how much the implementation will cost.
- At certain places, the total cost of a measure consisting of several activities is given, while being apparent that the figures relating to individual measures are not correctly added up.
- For certain, more complex measures, the budget is given only for one part of the measure. (e.g. Development of training plans is budgeted, but the realization of training is not.)
- Also, for a number of measures no effort has been made to assess the sum that will be required for implementation of measures, and only the source of funding is stated, as “budget” or “donations”.
- When referring to several measures, it is indicated that donor assistance will be sought for their implementation, but the required amount is not specified. When it comes to donor support, in most cases, it is not stated whether the funds that are mentioned are already provided or will be sought in the future.
In order for action plans to serve as a guideline for drafting of the budget for the coming year, two things must be made clear: which measures will be implemented and the amount of funds needed for their implementation.
Therefore, it is necessary to revise the Action Plans so as to amend the deadlines for the measures with which it is fallen behind, and to define the estimate of funds required for implementation of measures in the coming year.