Given the relevance of the issue and the amount of the proposed concession arrangement, the competent ministry should request the advisory opinion of the Protector of Property and Legal Interests of Montenegro, which should take part in discussion on the future of the Airports of Montenegro.
During the public presentation of procedure for awarding a concession for management over the Airports of Montenegro, we had an opportunity to hear opinions of a private law office on compliance of the proposed concession with the existing legal framework.
However, as in the other legal and property issues of great public interest, we have not heard the legal opinion of the Protector of Property and Legal Interests of Montenegro.
In the publication „What does the Protector protect?“ Institute Alternative has earlier pointed out that the position of this institution is not at the appropriate level. At the time, highlighted that the consultative role of the Protector is not developed enough and that this institution has a prominent role only after the damage to the budget has occurred.
Considering the importance of the future of the Airports of Montenegro and the great public interest which proposed concession arrangement provoked, we invite Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs to request and publish the Protector’s opinion on this issue. Also, the institution of the Protector should present its opinion at a consultative hearing in the Parliament of Montenegro.
The engagement of private consultant firms so far has significantly jeopardized the transparency of data, which served as the basis for the concession act. Without full insight into the relevant expert opinions, the public can not form an evidence-based stance on this issue. Hence, organising public discussions without the possibility for the interested citizens to participate on equal footing does not make much sense.
The Law on State Property provides an opportunity to all state authorities to seek the opinion of the Protector of Property and Legal Interests. Therefore, it is unclear why private law offices are prioritized over public institutions funded by the taxpayers’ money.
The Protector should be one of the strongest mechanisms in the protection of legal and property interests, but its work is still poorly regulated. Although under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance, this institution is neither Ministry’s organisational unit nor it enjoys the necessary degree of independence.
Even though the Government adopted yet another conclusion to urgently start drafting of the Law on the Protector of Property and Legal Interests in March this year, after adopting a similar conclusion year earlier, specific law which would regulate this important area is still lacking.
Institute Alternative Team