The Budget of the Capital City must be clear to citizens

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) has submitted to the Secretariat for Finance of the Capital Podgorica comments on the Draft Decision on the budget of the Capital City Podgorica for 2015, in accordance with the programme of public discussion.

The comments specifically indicate the fact that the programme of public discussion, the character of presentation of the Draft Budget, as well as accompanying explanation do not give the necessary and sufficient information on the basis of which it would be known with certainty how the budget funds will be spent. The explanation itself is merely retelling the tabular presentation of the Budget, which does not give any detailed explanation or the possibility for citizens to find out for which specific purposes some funds will be spent, especially when it comes to the item of contracted services.

In addition, the ratio between current and capital budget should be inversely proportional. Namely the capital budget should be equated with the current budget. Individual items in the capital budget should have been precisely explained in the act of reasoning in the context of justification of the initiative, project solutions and possible consequences. Only by this approach citizens will be able to form an opinion on capital investments, on the basis of objective indicators, which would contribute to increase citizens’ trust in local government and constitute one of the strong anti-corruption mechanisms. Also, in the Draft budget risks for filling the budget are not clearly identified, starting from which taxes are easily recoverable, through reasoning of taxes that are difficult to collect and presentation of problems that make the collection difficult, up to assessment of the possibilities of collecting budgetary funds on other grounds.

CCE has indicated in more detail the following uncertainties regarding the use of certain resources:

  • Under the economy class of 414 Expenses for services, amount of EUR 2,837,460.00 is envisioned, and the same is divided into eight subclasses. Disputable is the eighth item – 4149 other services amounting to EUR 2,316,450.00, since it is made impossible for citizens to see clearly which are the other services that cover more than 90% of the economy class of the Budget, which opens too wide space for non-transparent spending.
  • Under economy class of 417 Rent, the amount of EUR 54,100.00 is envisioned, whereat the lease of facilities 4147 is envisioned, while there is no explanation for what purpose and why in this particular case the premises in the property of the Capital City are not used.
  • Under the economy class of 431 Transfers to institutions, individuals, NGO and the public sector, a total of EUR 1,745,300.00 is envisioned, and there are five subitems divided, while under the sixth item 4318 other transfers the amount of EUR 574,300.00 is envisioned, which comprises almost 30% of the “bluriness” of the projected budget funds under this basis.
  • In particular, the item of economy class 432 Other transfers must be explained in detail, with subitem transfers to the companies under number 4326 in the amount of EUR 6,779,000.00, which comprises more than 12% of the Budget. The basis, purpose and subject to which the funds are transferred must be clearly known. It is our opinion that this must be found in the very structure of the Budget with referrals to legal grounds.

CCE assesses that the Draft Budget is unnecessary and unacceptably lacking transparency and that it is “blurred” in a large percentage of 20%. In that respect, CCE expresses the hope that this part will undergo adequate changes in the final version.

Nikola Djonović,
Programme Coordinator