My Town About My Money – Report on the Openness of Local Budgets

Providing reports to the public and making budget documents available to citizens - these are the prerequisites for more open local self-governments and more accountable public finance. However, these issues do not receive sufficient attention in Montenegro, in particular at the local level. The discussion concerning good local governance tends to be limited to the needs to rationalise public spending and optimise staff numbers, with official requirements posed to Montenegrin municipalities often disregarding the issue of public finance transparency. For this reason, this Report focuses on the key issues of local finance transparency, through an assessment of compliance with the minimum standards related to publication of core budget documents.

The research aimed to identify to what extent citizens were able to access the following documents by navigating the municipal web presentations: Draft Budget Decisions for 2018; Budget Decisions for 2018; Decisions on the Final Budget Account for 2017; Biannual Budget Execution Reports for 2017 and Citizens' Budget Guides. The availability of these documents has been outlined as the key indicator of budget transparency.

Among else, the report has shown that the Budget Decisions are published the most (both the draft and the adopted version), while no municipality published a citizens’ budget in the monitoring period (2017 and 2018). Particularly worrying is the fact that 8 out 23 municipalities failed to publish the decisions on the final budget account. Report includes a separate section on citizen participation in the public discussions on the 2018 local budgets. Finally, given the auspicious timing of the implementation of the new strategic and legal measures, the Report points to possible ways of improving the current practices and webpages.

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