Irrational planning, frequent amendments and non-realization of plans are some of the central problems in the public procurement system. In 2016, large differences were observed in the planned and spent budget for public procurement for certain categories of contracting authorities, whereas the data on the total difference between planned and spent money for public procurement at the level of all contracting authorities is not publicly available.
Ministries, municipalities, health and educational institutions planned to spend a total of 517 700 488.82 euro for public procurement in 2016, but they spent less than half the sum – 205 258 604.34. Information on the total difference between planned and spent money for public procurement at the level of all contracting authorities is not publicly available, hence it is impossible to gain insight in the scope of the problem of poor public procurement planning in Montenegro.
Such inadequate planning of public procurement indicates poor budget coordination and inefficient management of public finances, bearing in mind that the planned funds “are reserved” for certain procurements that do not get realized and thus remain unspent at the end of the budget year, although they could have been used for other purposes.
Procurement authorities are obliged to prepare a public procurement plan for that year by 31 January and then procure accordingly. Also, they have the possibility to amend the plan without limitations – number of possible amendments is not legally limited, so the number of amendments adopted during year is high.
During 2016, some of the contracting authorities amended their public procurement plan from ten to over 20 times. The Capital City Podgorica has been among the leaders in this view with public procurement plan amended 21 time, followed by Center for Ecotoxicological Research d.o.o. – Podgorica with 16, Ministry of Sustainable Development and Tourism with 15 amendments, Water Supply and Sewage d.o.o. – Podgorica with 13, Institute for Blood Transfusion of Montenegro and Municipality of Bijelo Polje with 11. Another 31 contracting authority amended their public procurement plan from six to ten times.
Despite frequent changes to the plan, the final amounts of the planned and spent budget for public procurement rarely coincide. For example, the Capital City Podgorica, in spite of 21 amendments to the plan and the fact that the plan was last amended on 30 November, immediately before the end of the year, the planned 1,281,503.63 € remained unspent.
The Institute’s Alternative has been pointing to the problem of inadequate public procurement planning for years and the need to more seriously address this issue. For example, in 2015, only 3 out of 51 contracting authorities whose planning we analysed had the same planned and spent budget for public procurement. Rational planning, in the first place, would contribute to meeting numerous needs of citizens which are being held “on hold” for years, such as, for example, the renovation of schools, roads, of children’s parks, etc.
Public Policy Researcher