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Faces of Open Government: Minister Suzana Pribilović

Rostros del gobierno abierto: Ministra Suzana Pribilović

Ministarka Suzana Pribilovic
Minister Suzana Pribilović |

Engaging citizens and involving them in open government processes is at the heart of OGP. Why is it important for your country to have people involved in these processes and what is your country doing to enhance citizen participation?

The Government of Montenegro is fully committed to the citizen’s well-being and to increase their participation in public policy-making. In this regard, the level of open public administration has been significantly improved in the previous period. At the same time, bearing in mind the goals of public administration reform, we are committed to making the administration more transparent, cost-effective and efficient for citizens. The ministry I coordinate is in charge of the public administration reform at the Government level. The focus of our activities is especially aimed at improving the transparency of public administration and participation of Montenegro in the Open Government Partnership (OGP) is mutually significant for us. Within the OGP framework, we are focusing on five key commitments: improving public services, citizen participation, access to information, including openness of state administration institutions, increasing the efficiency of public resource management, and increasing public integrity. 

OGP allows us to share experiences between governments and reminds us that we are living in a time when governments around the world need to exchange practical policies ensuring that the end service to citizens is in line with 21st century standards. 

On the other hand, experience has shown us that fulfilling the requirements of all citizens is not something that can be achieved by governments themselves, which is why the role of the citizens and civil society is extremely important to us. Our aim is to involve young people as much as possible in these processes, since they are future active citizens in decision and policy-making and future leaders of the reform process.

In the last two years, important steps have been taken to improve the efficiency and quality of public administration services. The results are visible and recognizable, but there are many challenges ahead, and we see OGP as a step closer to our goals. In the previous period we improved the normative framework for NGO activity. The Law on Non-Governmental Organizations, which defined a new model of financing NGO projects and programs from the state budget, has been amended. The normative framework for public participation in the creation and implementation of public policies has also been improved. The new Strategy of Improving the stimulating environment for NGOs 2018-2020 has been adopted with the aim of further improving legal and institutional frameworks for NGO activities and strengthening cooperation in the process of policy-making and implementation of public policies, respecting their different, but complementary, roles and responsibilities in this process.

In addition, the e-Participation site on the e-Government Portal has been updated. Through this mechanism, citizens can participate in the public discussions on strategic documents and laws passed by the Government. The Voice of Citizens e-Petition portal has been relaunched, enabling citizens to launch a petition, within the scope of public policy, easily and supported by 3,000 signatures.

  

Part of the work of OGP is to bring together people from all over the world on behalf of open governments. Your government is hosting a Western Balkan Peer Exchange Meeting on 4th October, together with ReSPA and with the Government of North Macedonia. What can we expect from this meeting and why is it important for government officials and civil society organizations from different countries to create a space for reformers, inside and outside  government?

The aim of this regional event is to facilitate the exchange of experience and practical solutions related to the implementation of the OGP process, as well as to contribute to better understanding of the concept of open governments in the region countries. Participants will have the opportunity to learn about the latest trends in transparency area, through presentations of regional initiatives in these areas. This meeting is also a good opportunity to identify areas for common future interventions.

Gathering of government officials and civil society organizations engaged in OGP from different countries of the region and sharing ideas is an opportunity for establishing a new regional platform in this area, as well as increasing the visibility of the OGP process in the Western Balkan region. Such networking of the governmental and non-governmental sector will contribute to improving the environment for implementation of reform activities, making it more transparent and inclusive. 

We are confident that the exchange of experiences will provide a more accurate picture of where the Western Balkan countries are in terms of compliance with basic OGP requirements, and will open up new opportunities for a common regional approach in the creation of action plans.

Reflecting on how Montenegro re-activated the OGP process by presenting a new action plan recently, how are you leveraging OGP to advance open government reforms in your country?

The goals of OGP are complementary to the goals of the public administration reform that is being implemented in Montenegro, in particular with regard to increasing the responsibility of the system, improving the quality of service delivery to citizens, and more efficiently exercising the right to free access to information. In this regard, the Action Plan for 2019 has been developed to the greatest extent through the principle of increasing access to new technologies for openness and responsibility of public administration.

Let me emphasize  some activities such as: implementation of the project National Identification Document for Citizens of Montenegro, which should enable: easier access to electronic public administration services for citizens and businesses; upgrading the platform for E-participation services and E-petitions; standardized  local government units portals by which we want to contribute to the convergence and coherence of online access of municipalities; measuring the satisfaction of citizens and businesses with the services provided by public administration; a project of identifying and reporting infrastructure problems and  encouraging of civil liability by that; establishing an online application “Does your employer pay insurance contributions?” as well as establishing the service of online checking of M4 form; establishing the National System for the payment of administrative fees and usage of open data to support start-up businesses.

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