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Montenegro

Improved Anticorruption Policies (ME0062)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Montenegro Action Plan 2018-2020

Action Plan Cycle: 2018

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: The Union of Municipalities MoF The Tax Administration The Chamber of Economy

Support Institution(s): NA

Policy Areas

Access to Information, Anti-Corruption, E-Government, Fiscal Openness, Open Data, Publication of Budget/Fiscal Information, Subnational, Sustainable Development Goals, Whistleblower Protections

IRM Review

IRM Report: Montenegro Design Report 2018-2020

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information , Public Accountability

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

Improved anticorruption policies
Commencement and completion dates: January 2019 – December 2019
Responsible institution The Union of Municipalities MoF The Tax Administration The Chamber of Economy
Commitment
The issue at stake Given the lack of transparency, citizens have problems in understanding budgeting processes at the local and the national levels. This is further aggravated by the fact that for the time being only annual budgets and final accounts are being published, having a negative bearing on three pillars of budget accountability: transparency, oversight and public participation. Citizens are not familiar with budget policies and the ways how central and local level budgets are planned and spent. The lack of information concerning whistle-blowers, the legal theory and practices in their protection and potential misuses indicate the need for further awareness-raising activities to make the institutions, staff, interested parties and citizens better informed on the matter.
Commitment In line with the OGP principles, budget transparency may prove to be a significant step forward in overall openness of institutions and open new scope for interactions with citizens.
Opening of budgets poses a particular challenge in the context of public participation in policy development, implementation and monitoring. In reference to his, this measure is expected to address in quite a simple manner the need of citizens and target groups to have a more direct insight into financial performance of municipalities and country at large. This will enable continuous broader assessments and analyses of public finance management efficiency and cost-effectiveness. A functional portal with easily searchable databases and sets of data providing insights into specific sections of the budget is an appealing and efficient channel for familiarisation with the decisions on revenue collection and allocation. Development of budget brochures for citizens and of brochures on whistle-blowers fall under public education and information activities to raise awareness of transparency and accountability among individuals, institutions and society at large.
How will it help address the issue
The delivery on this commitment will make budgets more credible. The “Open Budget” portal will provide overviews of local and central budgets, in line with transparent financial management rules, providing graphic presentations of financial statements, presenting debts and liabilities by type, etc., together with the possibility for giving comments. Thus, members of the public and entities interested in public finance will have an easily accessible and understandable database using infographics and generating various types of data for different sections of the budget, and information on budget outlays. Moreover, the data will be provided in such a manner to allow further processing. Promotion and awareness raising of the importance of whistle-blowers in a society, together with a comparative overview of legal provisions and practices of more developed democracies will be one step towards addressing the issue stated above.
Its relevance to OGP values
The delivery on this commitment is relevant for fiscal responsibility, transparency, availability of information, citizen participation in monitoring local public spending in a systematic and functionally sustainable manner and overseeing the work of institutions in line with the principles of ethics and accountability.
Additional information Compatibility with SDGs Reference to SDG 16: ‘Pease, Justice and Strong Institutions 16.6 – Develop effective, accountable and transparent institutions at all levels
BUDGET €19,500
Actions with verifiable results and implementation dates
6.1. Visual presentations of state and local budgets – €10,000 - Annually update visual presentation of the country budget http://budzet.sntcg.com/ - post visual presentations of local budgets at their respective webpages similarly to the presentation at http://www.mojgrad.me
6.2. Budget for Citizens brochure – €5,000 - Based on the template to be developed by the Union of Municipalities, local selfgovernments will prepare brochures presenting local budgets suited to citizen needs to be used during public consultations and posted on their respective webpages
6.3. Comparative review/study on whistle-blower protection – Whistleblower Cases – €4,500
- the study in place with recommendations for further improvement of the legal framework for governing reports made by whistle-blowers, procedures as per reports, procedures as per requests for whistle-blower protection, etc.
Points of Contact
Responsible person in the implementing entity Igor Pavićević, the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Mitar Bajčeta, the Chamber of Economy
e-mail / phone igor.pavicevic@isrcg.org

IRM Midterm Status Summary

6. Improved anticorruption policies

Language of the commitment as it appears in the action plan:

“In line with the OGP principles, budget transparency may prove to be a significant step forward in overall openness of institutions and open new scope for interactions with citizens.

Opening of budgets poses a particular challenge in the context of public participation in policy development, implementation and monitoring. In reference to his, this measure is expected to address in quite a simple manner the need of citizens and target groups to have a more direct insight into financial performance of municipalities and country at large. This will enable continuous broader assessments and analyses of public finance management efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

A functional portal with easily searchable databases and sets of data providing insights into specific sections of the budget is an appealing and efficient channel for familiarisation with the decisions on revenue collection and allocation.

Development of budget brochures for citizens and of brochures on whistle-blowers fall under public education and information activities to raise awareness of transparency and accountability among individuals, institutions and society at large.”

Milestones:

6.1. Visual presentations of state and local budgets

6.2. Budget for Citizens brochure

6.3. Comparative review/study on whistle-blower protection Whistle- blower Cases

Start Date: November 2018                                                            

End Date: December 2019

Context and Objectives

This commitment addresses budget transparency and whistleblower protection. It calls for visual presentations of the state and local budgets and publishing citizen brochures. It also proposes a comparative study on whistleblower protection to provide recommendations for the legal framework.

A framework to implement program budgeting has been in place in Montenegro since the 2018 Public Financial Management action plan. [19] However, its implementation remains behind schedule because line institutions do not proactively publish budget information and there is no mechanism to ensure quality checks of published data. [20] Furthermore, Montenegro does not participate in the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Index survey, making it difficult to establish a baseline of what budget areas need improvement. [21]

Montenegro’s 2014 Law on Prevention of Corruption includes provisions to protect whistleblowers in the public and private sectors. [22] However, the European Commission has noted that results remain limited, with a continued decrease in requests for protection of individuals reporting threats to the public interest. [23] Several high-profile whistleblower cases attracted media attention in recent years, which caused public authorities to engage in a variety of citizen awareness-raising campaigns. [24]

The commitment is verifiable, as most of its milestones provide specific activities and a timeline for implementation (such as an annually updated visual presentation of the national and local budgets and the development of a citizens brochure). However, Milestone 6.3 (comparative study on whistleblower protection) could be more specific, as it is not clear how this study will inform the current legal framework.

The commitment is relevant to access to information and public accountability. The visual presentation of the national and local budgets can inform citizens about the budgetary cycle. Furthermore, the citizens brochures for local governments (Milestone 6.2) can help citizens better understand local budgets. It should be noted, however, that Montenegrin regulations and practices only allow citizens to participate in public budgeting at the local level and not at the national level.

Regarding whistleblower protection, it is not clear what changes are expected after the preparation of the comparative study under Milestone 6.3. Notably, however, this is the only activity in the action plan that will be implemented by an NGO (Institute of Certified Accountants). [25] According to a representative of the Institute of Certified Accountants, Montenegro aims to adopt the provisions of the EU’s 2019 Directive on Whistle-blower Protection, which will cover all legal entities (state owned and private) with more than 50 employees. [26]

Together, the activities under his commitment could have a moderate potential impact, particularly on budget transparency at the local level.

Next steps

Moving forward, the IRM recommends continuing to focus on budget transparency and whistleblower protection, but as two separate commitments. The government could consider the anticorruption proposals from Operations Team members [27] such as expanding opportunities for parliament and the public to scrutinize the budget, and improving participatory budgeting. Also, the European Commission notes that line institutions still do not proactively publish budget information, and that mechanisms could be put into place to ensure their publication. [28] The IRM recommends publishing information on every item of spending, in readable format, and on a regular basis.

On whistleblower protection, the IRM recommends drafting a standalone whistleblower protection law (separate from the 2014 Law on Corruption Prevention) with enforcement mechanisms.

[19] European Commission, “Commission Staff Working Document, Montenegro 2019 Report” (29 May 2019), https://bit.ly/2s0h3KB.

[20] Id.   

[21] International Budget Partnership, The Open Budget Survey, (2017), https://www.internationalbudget.org/open-budget-survey/open-budget-index-rankings/.

[22] Mark Worth, Whistleblower Protection in Southeast Europe (Regional Anti-corruption Initiative, 2015), https://rm.coe.int/16806fffb0.

[23] European Commission, “Commission Staff Working Document, Montenegro 2019 Report.”

[24] Tina Popović and Mila Radulović Podgorica, “Montenegro, how not to protect whistleblowers” (Daily Newspaper, 15 Dec. 2017), https://www.balcanicaucaso.org/eng/Areas/Montenegro/Montenegro-how-not-to-protect-whistleblowers-184622.

[25] Representative of the Operational Team member, NGO Institute of Certified Accountants, interview by IRM researcher, 12 Sept. 2019.

[26] Information provided to the IRM by Igor Pavicevic, Institute of Certified Accountants, during the pre-publication period of this report, 19 March 2020.

[27] “Pregled Komentara, Prijedloga I Sugestija Članova Operativnog Tima Za Sadržaja Nacionalnog Akcionog Plana Partnerstva Za Otorenu Upravu Za 2019” (2018), https://www.otvorenauprava.me/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/Predlozi-OT.pdf.

[28] European Commission, “Commission Staff Working Document, Montenegro 2019 Report.”


Commitments

  1. National Identification Document (NID)

    ME0057, 2018, E-Government

  2. e-Democracy

    ME0058, 2018, E-Government

  3. Proactive Publication of Information

    ME0059, 2018, Access to Information

  4. Efficient Collection of Administrative Fees

    ME0060, 2018, Dispute Resolution & Legal Assistance

  5. Electronic Tax Returns

    ME0061, 2018, E-Government

  6. Improved Anticorruption Policies

    ME0062, 2018, Access to Information

  7. Non-Governmental Participation in the Privatisation Council

    ME0001, 2012, Public Participation

  8. Establishment of Electronic Enterprise Registration

    ME0002, 2012, E-Government

  9. Merging of Inspectorates and Extracting Them from Ministries and Administration Authorities

    ME0003, 2012, Private Sector

  10. Implementation of New Building Permit Legislation

    ME0004, 2012, Private Sector

  11. Establishment of Special Body to Support Investment and Development Projects

    ME0005, 2012, Private Sector

  12. Create e-Register of Licenses

    ME0006, 2012, E-Government

  13. Adopt Regulations for Registry Maintenance

    ME0007, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  14. Development of an Action Plan with Measures to Improve Regulatory Framework in Montenegro

    ME0008, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  15. Quarterly Evaluation of Implementation of That Action Plan

    ME0009, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  16. Train Civil Servants in RIA

    ME0010, 2012, Capacity Building

  17. Apply RIA in Preparation of the Work Programme of the Government

    ME0011, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  18. ‘Full RIA’ Is Implemented for All Laws

    ME0012, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  19. Employment of Foreigners Reform

    ME0013, 2012, Citizenship & Immigration

  20. Concessions and Public-Private Partnership: Regulatory Framework

    ME0014, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  21. Concessions and Public-Private Partnership: Regulation on Procedure

    ME0015, 2012, Legislation & Regulation

  22. Affirm and Advance Existing Functions of the E-Government Portal

    ME0016, 2012, E-Government

  23. e-Government Portal: More Complex Electronic Services Available at the Portal and Acceptance of Electronic Documentation

    ME0017, 2012, E-Government

  24. e-Government Portal: Enable Citizens to Have an Active e-Participation in Creation of Laws and Other Strategic Documents

    ME0018, 2012, E-Government

  25. Established Online Platform for e-Petitions

    ME0019, 2012, E-Government

  26. e-Petitions: Online Platform Is Made Fully Efficient

    ME0020, 2012, E-Government

  27. Southeast Europe Regional Forum

    ME0021, 2012, Capacity Building

  28. Public Consultations

    ME0022, 2012, Public Participation

  29. Direct Contact with Non-Governmental Organisations

    ME0023, 2012, Civic Space

  30. Systems to Improve Direct Contact with Citizens

    ME0024, 2012, Public Participation

  31. Free Access to Information

    ME0025, 2012, Access to Information

  32. Plain Administrative Language

    ME0026, 2012, Capacity Building

  33. Preventing Conflicts of Interest: Raising Public Awareness

    ME0027, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  34. Preventing Conflicts of Interest: Training for Public Officers and Public Campaigns

    ME0028, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  35. Preventing Conflicts of Interest: Political Independency of the Commission for Prevention of the Conflict of Interest

    ME0029, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  36. Strengthening Integrity

    ME0030, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  37. Application of Code of Ethics: Establish an Ethical Board, as an Independent Body

    ME0031, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  38. Application of Code of Ethics: Code of Ethics Training for Civil Servants

    ME0032, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  39. Application of Code of Ethics: Ensure Application of the Code of Ethics Through Operation of Disciplinary Bodies and Periodic Check

    ME0033, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  40. Application of Code of Ethics: Strengthen Tax Administration and Customsadministration Internal Control Mechanisms

    ME0034, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  41. Transparency of Criteria for Employment, Bonuses, and Promotion in the Public Sector

    ME0035, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  42. Reporting on Unpermitted Building Construction

    ME0036, 2012, Infrastructure & Transport

  43. Protection of Persons Reporting Corruption

    ME0037, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  44. Procurement Corruption: Help Desk

    ME0038, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  45. Procurement Corruption: Regulation and Awareness-Raising

    ME0039, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  46. Establishing Central Public Procurement Bodies

    ME0040, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  47. Electronic Public Procurement System

    ME0041, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  48. Budget Transparency: Amend the Organic Law on Budget with Precise Deadlines and Specific Fiscal Rules

    ME0042, 2012, Fiscal Openness

  49. Budget Transparency: Presentation of the Annual Budget and Its Revisions in a Visually Comprehensible and Simple Manner

    ME0043, 2012, Fiscal Openness

  50. Budget Transparency: Identify and Develop Performance Indicators

    ME0044, 2012, Fiscal Openness

  51. Budget Transparency: Amend the Chart of Accounts to Improve the Expenditure Control

    ME0045, 2012, Fiscal Openness

  52. Budget Transparency: Improve Cooperation Between the Internal Audit System and State Audit Institution

    ME0046, 2012, Anti-Corruption

  53. Combatting All Forms of Discrimination: Carry Out Activities Defined in the Signed Memorandum of Cooperation with the NGOs

    ME0047, 2012, Civic Space

  54. Combatting All Forms of Discrimination: Trainings for Police Officers for Professional Conduct with LGBT Persons

    ME0048, 2012, Capacity Building

  55. Combatting All Forms of Discrimination: Trainings for Police Officers Related to Disabled Persons

    ME0049, 2012, Capacity Building

  56. Combatting All Forms of Discrimination: Free-Up Public Traffic Areas Used by Disabled. Define Procedures for Control of Passengers & Vehicles

    ME0050, 2012, Human Rights

  57. Combatting All Forms of Discrimination: Adjust the Security Centre in Accordance with Disabled Persons’ Needs and Appoint a Contact Person

    ME0051, 2012, Human Rights

  58. Improving Media Freedoms

    ME0052, 2012, Civic Space

  59. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

    ME0053, 2012, Private Sector

  60. Support to CSR in Montenegro

    ME0054, 2012, Private Sector

  61. Organisation of Workshops on Corporate Social Responsibility

    ME0055, 2012, Capacity Building

  62. Development of Manual

    ME0056, 2012, Capacity Building

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