At the invitation of the Deputy Prime Minister for Political System, Internal and Foreign Policy, Mr. Zoran Pažin, we attended a meeting on 10th May 2017, concerning Draft Amendments to the Law on NGOs.
The meeting was also attended by the Minister of Finance, Mr. Darko Radunović, Minister of Public Administration, Ms. Suzana Pribilović and Head of the Directorate for Organization and Supervision of the State Administration in the Ministry of Public Administration, Mr. Ivan Šikmanović.
At the meeting, we repeated our attitudes and arguments regarding the initiative of the NGO Coalition „By Cooperation to the Goal“ for withdrawing the Draft Amendments to the Law on NGOs and Law on games of chance from the parliamentary procedure and the need to systematically and sustainably define the manner of funding NGOs’ projects from the state budget. We pointed out the shortcomings in the procedure of drafting amendments to the Law on games of chance, which was conducted behind closed doors and resulted in abolishment of the Games of Chances Fund. We highlighted the consequences of abolishing this Fund and the financial support for NGOs’ projects which was provided by it in previous years and directed towards providing services mainly to vulnerable groups, mostly people with disabilities, non-formal education programs and other projects of public interest.
We stressed that the Government’s policy of NGOs funding must be lead systematically, and that the strategic decision about how and to what extent the Government will support these projects should be preceded by a detailed analysis of the effects of supported NGOs’ projects and objective quality and need for these programs.
We pointed out that the dissatisfaction with these solutions is present almost without exception in the NGO sector, and that in addition to the NGO Coalition „By Cooperation to the Goal“, similar initiatives are submitted by other NGOs through different mechanisms.
We expressed our dissatisfaction with the general relation of the Government towards the NGO sector, which, in our opinion, is now worse than ever. In this regard, we pointed out the status of the Council for Development of NGOs which is not in operation since July 2016, the selective application of regulations governing the cooperation of the state administration and NGOs, as well as the limited impact of NGOs on development and implementation of public policies. We stressed that the recent exclusion of representative of NGO MANS from the membership of the Working Group for Chapter 23, as well as the continuing campaign to discredit NGOs in the media, do not contribute to better relations between the Government and the NGOs.
We clearly stated that we do not take this meeting as a response to the letter from 10 NGOs members of the Council for Development of NGOs, which was sent to the Prime Minister in December 2016, and that we are still waiting for the response to this letter.
Government representatives indicated the possibility of new solutions in regard to the controversial legislation. They announced that they will further consider our expressed attitudes and inform us in writing about the new possibilities to intervene when these laws are concerned.
We shall inform the public about all further steps.
Milenko Vojičić, President of the Assembly of the NGO Coalition „By Cooperation to the Goal“
Goran Đurović, President of the Managing Board of the NGO Coalition „By Cooperation to the Goal“
Marina Vujačić, Executive Director of the Association of Youth with Disabilities of Montenegro
Stevo Muk, President of the Managing Board of Institute Alternative
Ana Novaković, Executive Director of Centre for Development of NGOs