Press release: Government to urgently take a position on the SAI report

From this year’s audit report on the financial account of the Budget, it is clear that the work of the SAI is not taken seriously into account neither by the Government and Ministry of Finance, nor by the individual audit entities and the Parliament.

Institute Alternative has been dealing with the problem of the impact of the SAI for a long time. IA has bee warning for years about the conditions in which the SAI works: it works with half -systematized capacity; Ministry of Finance has consistently refused to approve the major budget for the SAI treatening its financial independence; the Parliament hasn’t appointed the fifth member of the SAI’s Senate and is not willing to meet the SAI recommendations; misdemeanor responsibility hasn’t been defined in the Law on Budget nor reports on auditing entities which has been made compliant with the SAI recommendations. The role of the SAI is thus almost meaningless.

As an emergency measure, we demand that the Prime Minister at the next meeting of the Ministers requires information on the allegations in the report and the SAI to take a position of responsibility for irregularities in the work of its officials. We demand that the Government inform the public about the reasons why it does not consistently follow the recommendations of the SAI as well as whether the Government was behind the illegal activities of its officers and civil servants.

We believe that the Minister of Finance should participate in the work of the competent parliamentary committee when the audit report on the annual financial account of the budget is on the Agenda, which was not the case last year. Minister in this occasion must explain the reasons for non-compliance of SAI recommendations and Parliament’s conclusions.

If we want to prevent that situation in the next year and prevent complaints about the failure of the SAI recommendations, in addition to these activities, we need to work to achieve the following five principles:

A Government that listens the SAI – The Ministry of Finance shall establish a system for monitoring the compliance with the SAI recommendations, check what is being done to meet the recommendations.

The Parliament, which keeps to itself – Parliament must examine what the Government is doing to comply with its conclusions on the review of the budget and final accounts and to hold accountable those entities which show disrespect to those conclusions. We should not forget that by disrespecting the SAI recommendations, the Government actually expresses contempt for the Parliament of Montenegro, since the recommendations were adopted last year as Parliament’s conclusions.

Penalties for offenders – Introduce misdemeanor responsibility in a Law on Budget in order to sanction offenders and punish responsible persons in the institutions where budgetary irregularities could occur. Supreme State Prosecutor must use the SAI reports, check a hint of the existence of the criminal act.

Strong SAI – Amend the Law on SAI – which will determine its financial independence and edit transparent reporting of audit entities about what they have done to comply with the recommendations and remove irregularities.

Awake public – public is the strongest weapon in the state audit – NGOs and media should work intensively on monitoring of SAI’s work, read audit reports and claim accountability of audited entities.

Marko Sošić
Public Policy Researcher

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