Municipalities should start «cleaning their own yards» of corruption

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) welcomes the decision of municipality of Ulcinj, which finally started to plan activities in fight against corruption on local level. Municipality of Ulcinj made its first, long awaited move in demanding fight against corruption that yet awaits it, by announcing the Draft Action plan for fight against corruption (2014-2015) on official internet presentation.

Unfortunaltely, like it was the previous case with majority of municipalities, the Action plan of municipality of Ulcinj also came with a great delay, without the recognition of experiences from other municipalities, thus making almost identical omissions. For instance, deadlines were inaccurate or have been terminated, thus in part envisaged for deadline related to implementation of activities, in majority of cases was listed as continued, and for some, the deadline planned was in alredy past 2013 or 2014. Regarding the implementation of each activity, allocations for these were not envisaged precisely neither by Action plan not by local budget. Instead, only a general guideline was given stating that means will be secured from budget of municipality of Ulcinj. Moreover, municipality of Ulcinj, same as majority of municipalities, has not shown independence or proactiveness, in relation to formulation or correction of activities, and instead literally followed Model of harmonised action plan for fight against corruption in local self-government, or in other words, copied strategic goals, measures and activities. By doing this, it backgrounded real needs of community and citizens. July of 2014 was listed on the front page of Draft Action plan, which indicates that document waited nine months to be publicised. Paradox lies in the fact that a Team/Commission for monitoring, reporting and evaluation of Action plan was formed on 13 May 2014, which remained unfunctional untill nowadays. Also, document contains no information whether public debate took place, and if there was any research prior to that, aimed to obtain basic information from citizens on what are the problems they face with on a daily basis. Hence, it is necessary to involve all interested parties through public debates, but also through Action plan, in part related to persons responsible for activities, which obviously has not been done so far.

CCE reminds that municipality of Rožaje, as well as the municipality of Ulcinj, have not yet adopted action plans for fight against corruption on local level for 2013-2014. Also, newly formed municipalities Petnjica and Gusinje, even though they constituted authority in November of 2013, or in February 2014, and even adopted first budgets, have not adopted local action plans for 2014. Therefore, out of existing 23 municipalities, four have not adopted action plans, whereas one from those four announced draft document (Ulcinj). By failing to adopt local action plans, municipalities prevented activities from Action plan for Chapter 23 to be fully implemented in line with prescribed deadline, which was by the end of 2013, but also made it look uncertain when it will be finished.

CCE asseses that municipalities have to show higher level of commitment in fight against corruption on local level. Precisely by «cleaning their own yards», municipalities can make a significant contribution to efforts on national level, aimed to suppress the effects of widespread corruption, which represents one of the key problems of Montenegro in process of democratisation and Europeanization.

Nikola Djonović, Programm Coordinator