IA: Short-term assistance should be given via Social Card

For example, Nikšić Municipality has allocated social assistance for competition in football, publishing of collection of poems, organizing graduation exhibitions, studying in Italy and renovating offices of the local community Kočani

Royal Capital Cetinje has apparently decided to look truth in the eye and grant Montenegrin artists the status of socially vulnerable individuals. This is at least shown by the Royal Capitals’ decision on the allocation of short-term social assistance.
During the last year, the local government provided money for the opening of painting exhibition, shooting a video, professional development and international promotion of artists, all under the code of short-term assistance.

Capital has provided 500 Euros in 2016 for a video shooting, in order to promote the tenth anniversary of Montenegro’s independence, as Ivana Bogojević from NGO Institute Alternative stated.

Cetinje, however, is not an isolated case. Nikšić Municipality, for example, granted social assistance for a football competition, publishing a collection of poems, organizing graduation exhibitions, studying in Italy and renovation offices in the local community Kočani.

These decisions are made largely by the discretionary powers of the president of the municipality.

“In some local governments there are commissions which are being convoked and which discuss whether some short-term assistance is going to be granted, but at the end of the day, president of the municipality is the one who in emergency cases determines whether the assistance will be granted or not “, said Ivana Bogojević.

Revenues and expenditures of local governments are controlled by the Ministry of Finance on a quarterly basis. The Ministry, however, has no jurisdiction to assess whether the money is used appropriately.

“Given that municipalities submit reports on the prescribed forms, the Ministry of Finance has no insight into the analytics of these expenditures, nor has the right to control the purpose of these funds,” said Snežana Mugoša from that Ministry.

In Institute Alternative, however, warn that false reporting on spending for social assistance open up the space for electoral abuse. Therefore, they suggest that the short-term social assistance is awarded on the basis of Social Card.

“It is very important that these costs for short-term social assistance are linked with the Social Card, which has not been implemented at the local level yet, because in this way we could achieve successful control of their expenditure. This type of aid should be granted through the work of social workers and social centres, where this should not be a decision in the hands of the president of the municipality,” said Bogojević.

Institute Alternative believes that this model could help that short-term social assistance reaches the ones who really need it. Insight into the Social Card would facilitate the work of presidents of municipalities, who would no longer need to waste time on a creative interpretation of the social needs of citizens.

Author: Dubravka Raičević
(journalist of “Vijesti“)
Article originally published May 22 2017

This article was drafted in cooperation with Institute Alternative, with the support of the UK Embassy Podgorica. The author holds the sole responsibility for the content of the article.

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