Press release: The amounts of financial support must be elaborated

IA claims that the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare must elaborate the amount of financial support provided in the Bill Law on Social and Child Protection.

Statements of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare during the parliamentary debate on the Bill Law on Social and Child Protection that Montenegro has the most generous financial support in the region and that there is no room to increase it, remain unfounded given the fact that the amount of social assistance and child benefits represent nearly one sixth of the minimum consumer basket. All financial contributions are set as a fixed amount. The adjustment of certain financial benefits to a larger amount remains a possibility depending on the prior opinion of the Ministry of Finance. This means that the adjustment of financial benefits is left to the decision of the Government.

Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare in the explanation attached to the text of Bill Law does not provide any analysis or information about the way thecertain amount of proposed financial support was determined. That raises additional doubts in proposed solutions. The basis and amount of financial benefits must be determined by a careful analysis of financial and other indicators, but the public is not informed about it. The public should know the reasons for determining the level of their financial benefits.The duty of the Ministry is to explain and make available all such analyzes. If not, all the claims of civil society representatives who support the growth of existing and introduction of new financial benefits remain eligible.

Also, it is not clear based on which assessments and analysis the Ministry stipulated that the implementation of the new Law will take less financial resources compared to the funds that had been allocated form the implementation of the Law on Social and Child Protection which is currently in force. Bear in mind that the new law envisages the establishment of the Institute for Social and Child Protection and the Social Innovation Fund within the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, introduces the institute of social inspection and provides transformation of social and child protection facilities in order to encourage the development of social services. All these innovations request financial resources.

The explanation of the new provisions of the Bill Law which limit the right to reimbursement to employer for maternity or parental leave and the exercise of the right to material assistance for the nine months during the year, cannot be justified by budgetary reasons and establishing greater control, especially if the budget savings are achieved by limiting the exercise of the right of beneficiaries (in this case/ employers and beneficiaries of social assistance)who meet and comply the statutory obligations.

We believe that the biggest budget savings can be achieved by proper targeting of funds and prevention of abuse of rights. Significant contribution in that respect should be the establishment of a social welfare information system (social cards).

After introducing social cards and directing financial benefits to those who really need it, the Ministry will have no reason not to increase the amount of financial support to sociallyvulnerable categories and align it with actual cost of living in the country.

Dragana Radović
Policy Analyst

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