(Un)real Expectations

Stevo MukBy the letter of the Constitution, The Government of Montenegro is in charge of conducting domestic and foreign policy. Non-governmental organizations have an implied obligation to communicate and cooperate with the Government. The Government has a written obligation to cooperate with non-governmental organizations. Especially non-governmental organizations which analize public policy and offer solutions, by definition, must cooperate with public institutions. Recommendations and proposals are sent to decision makers. In the first place, to the Government and to the Parliament. The Government would have to cooperate not just with those who give positive opinions about its work, but even more with those who complain and express criticism, and mostly with those who give suggestions and solutions.

At the time when the Prime Minister was Igor Luksic, a positive climate prevailed in relation with non-governmental organizations. It would be important that the new Government clearly says that it will not make a single step back from what was the attitude of the previous Government related to the NGOs. This implies further consistent implementation of the Regulation on the Procedure for Cooperation of Government Agencies and Non-governmental Organizations and the Regulation on the Procedure of Conducting Public Hearings.

It is particularly important that the new Government is consistent and dedicated to implement the new Law on Access to Information.

In terms of control of public money spending, it is necessary to radically change the culture of accountability. Instead of the absence of any form of responsibility, from disciplinary, to criminal over to the political responsibility, it is necessary to establish accountability and discipline at all levels. Instead of considering the law violation as the prerequisite for advancement, it must be treated as the cause of permanent restrictions of state affairs.

The new Prime Minister would, therefore, have to scroll through previous SAI reports and see who of his staff, and the coalition parties did not meet. To those people we must thank but certainly do not take into account the new functions. It is necessary to ensure the full implementation of the recommendations of the State Audit Institution, and the Government has a responsibility to establish a functional system of internal financial control. Imperative for all institutions must be more rational planning of public procurement, the timely implementation of public procurement procedures and control of the contracts. All contracts and reports on the execution of contracts must be made public.

The Government should give up its influence over the State Commission for Control of Public Procurement and ensure its full legal and financial independence.

If the Montenegrin Parliament adopted amendments to the Law on Local Self-Government, which stipulated that all contracts for local government must be published on the Internet, there is no reason that the same is not prescribed for state administration and other budget consumers.

It is necessary to ensure effective coordination and full implementation of Public Administration Reform Strategy. This will be impossible unless clientelism and political corruption overwhelm public interest, if the coalition agreements win the establishment of the system of recruitment and promotion in the civil service based on merit system. It will not be good if you plan to postpone rationalization of public administration for the sake of new ministerial chair and apprenticeship and jobs for party activists.

The fight against corruption and organized crime must begin with clear and convincing information on the status of investigations in all cases and affairs that have been launched in recent years. In that sense, the real revolution was a compromise between the Government and the opposition, and between the heads of the police and prosecution. Police and prosecutorial jobs are such that they don’t constitute a separate policy paper, but a specific and unequivocal action. If the declared goal of the majority and the minority is the same – determined fight against corruption and organized crime – then there is a room for an agreement regarding the first people of the police and prosecution.

More than anything, it would be good if the new Government continued the old “war” against the “opposition” NGOs and the media but using different means, such as: transparency, persuasive argument and public involvement in the decision-making process at the earliest stages.

Regardless of our experiences, opinions and views on the DPS and Djukanovic, this and every other Government, by the good old custom, should wish a good luck and give hundred days in order to confirm or deny the expectations of its believers and skeptics. IA’s recommendations are contained in the studies that we have published during the past few years, and some (un)real expectations are presented in this column.

Stevo Muk
President of the Managing Board

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