Centre for Civic Education (CCE) organized today the second roundtable “I have the right to know” in Kotor, in cooperation with Television Kotor, wherein, among other, was concluded that it is necessary to utilize potentials of civil society organizations in order to improve quality of work of local self-government organs.
Roundtable was opened by Mira Popović, CCE programme associate, who on that occasion noted that “through project «I have the right to know» CCE wants to point to a sequence that is often forgotten here: public sector organs are the ones which should be in service of citizens rather than existing solely for themselves or for positions created in them”.
Vladimir Jokić, President of the Municipality of Kotor, assessed that experience of Municipality when it comes to this issue is rather satisfactory, noting that it should be worked more intensively to acquaint citizens with their rights and instruments they can use to obtain information. “However despite all legal solutions, occasional abuse is occurring, to which we are all witnesses”, Jokić said.
Chief Administrator of Municipality of Kotor, Veljko Vujović, emphasized that “importance of this topic affects the content itself as well as efficiency of decision-making”. Vujović said that they are exceptionally open to cooperation in the Municipality of Kotor, and the number of requests that they have answered are increasing, noting that all documents necessary for exercise of right to access to information are available on website of Municipality.
Ljiljana Popović Moškov, Vice President of Municipality of Kotor, stated that “no document of a local self-government should be marked by grade of secrecy, since this is information that must be available to all citizens”. She reminded that establishment of service of 48 hours, which provides the requested information within 48 hours, demonstrated progress and desire for greater transparency in the work of Municipality itself.
Siniša Luković, journalist of ND Vijesti, assessed that current administration in the Municipality of Kotor compared to previous two has shown an enviable level of transparency in the work itself.
Radenko Lacmanović, member of the Agency for Protection of Personal Data and Free Access to Information, has assessed new solutions of the Law on Free Access to Information as being problematic, but has also clarified manners in which common mistakes made by requesters but also by organs in possession of information, on the other hand, can be avoided.
Simeona Begović, a person responsible for processing requests for free access to information in the Municipality of Kotor, stated that “objective of local self-governments is to provide requesters with verifiable and accurate information that should be easily accessible to all citizens”. She also stated that role of NGO sector is of crucial importance in informing citizens and that, despite progress, there is space for improvement in the work of Municipality of Kotor.
Programme Director of NGO EXPEDITIO – Centre for Sustainable Spatial Development, Biljana Gligorić, said that “it is a system where we do not have citizens who are informed about basic issues that concern them, but also on the other side we have NGOs excluded from work of organs and their suggestions disregarded.”
Tatjana Crepulja, councillor in Municipal Assembly of Kotor, indicated that it is necessary to involve as many citizens as possible in decision-making processes at the local level, but also render local services more accessible and more up-to-date to citizens’ needs.
Dragana Knežević, President of the Local Community of Kotor, said that it is necessary to “work on continuous education and informing of citizens about their rights and obligations at local level”.
Dragica Perović, President of the Municipal Assembly of Kotor, expressed hopes that issue of Law on Free Access to Information would be improved and amended and pointed out that services of Municipal Assembly of Kotor would work on timely notifying of all requesters on their submission.
Roundtable gathered 25 participants, representatives of media, institutions, representatives of NGOs as well as interested citizens of this municipality.
Roundtable “I have the right to know” is the first in a series of this events that CCE is organizing with partners within the project “I have the right to know – Responsible municipalities in the sevice of citizens” financed from funds of the European Union and co-financed from funds of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, within broader regional project WeBER (Western Balkans Enabling Project for Civil Society Monitoring of Public Administration Reform). Aim of the project “I have the right to know – Responsible municipalities in the service of citizens” is to contribute to improvement of accountability and transparency of local self-governments in Montenegro in accordance with principles of good governance which will be achieved through strengthening cooperation between national and local NGOs and local media, in joint monitoring of implementation and regular reporting on the state of implementation of the Law on Free Access to Information.
Miloš Knežević, programme associate