CCE proposed measures for the establishment of higher level of openness and responsibility of authorities in Montenegro

Centre for civic education (CCE), through the participation in the work of Operational team for the development of Action plan and conducting of measures from Action plan in line with principles of Open Government Partnership, submitted a proposal containing six measures that would significantly improve the level of transparency and responsibility in the work of decision makers, efficient governing of public resources, as well as the full respect of the law.

First proposed measure suggests a proactive approach to information through full application of Article 12 of Law on free access to information, which implies a simple and reliable approach to portals of all public sector bodies – legal persons and decision-making bodies, consumer units of Budget of Montenegro or both when it comes to public documentations and public registers, drafts, proposals and final texts of strategic documents, individual acts and agreements on available resources and state property and other information of public significance. Implementation of this measure would result in the achievement of required level of openness and transparency regarding the available public finances, state property, process of privatisation, as well as in the increase of public integrity and participation of citizens in the making of decisions that are of public interest.

Moreover, CCE believes that the initiative for the adoption of a unique, codified legislative act should be initiated, because such act would prescribe all alternative forms of participation of citizens in the realisation of public affairs, protection of public interest and influencing of decisions that are of public interest. That law would prescribe all cases and forms of citizens’ participation, such as the petition, electronic petition, civil initiative, referendum and other, and it would relate to all levels of power.

According to this initiative, what needs to be improved is the normative form of Provision on procedure and manner of conducting public debate when preparing the law in order to produce an effective public debate that would include the annual Budget of Montenegro as well. Namely, the Provision excludes annual Budget of Montenegro from the obligation of conducting public debate, which is unacceptable. It is precisely the effectiveness and availability of public debate on annual Budget of Montenegro, which would inform citizens the best on the state of public finances and level of responsibility regarding the availability by the consumer units of Budget. Also, the Provision does not provide accurate guidelines for the conducting of an effective public debate, with clear position of citizens, their modality of participation, obligation of conductor of public debate to render it easily comprehensible in terms of the application of various techniques when approaching legislative, systematic, strategic solutions and possible consequences for citizens.

Fourth, for the purpose of affirmation of control function of legislative power compared to executive, it is necessary to define the obligation of competent executive body to inform representatives of legislative power in a timely, reliable and comprehensive manner on the procedure of availability of state property and preparations for the agreement on privatisation.

CCE particularly insists on the establishment of measures that would contribute to fight against corruption and prevent misuses at higher education institutions. In that sense, CCE proposed to make easily accessible all master thesis and dissertations of academic structure of the ones employed at higher education institutions in Montenegro, as well as of public officials, in electronic form. That implies for portals of higher education institutions to provide space where all works of academic structure of employees can be found, as a contribution to fight against plagiarism, as well as the help in scientific work of other colleagues. In addition, it is necessary to secure academic works of public officials.

Finally, CCE proposed measure of publishing all relevant documents and information that accompanied the indebtedness of local self-governments units in Montenegro, whereby it could make, in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance, clear and easily accessible cross sections regarding the state of debt, persons responsible and influence on local budgets. That includes publishing of all documents on portals of local self-governments and Ministry of Finance based on which decisions were made for debt, decisions themselves, agreements on indebtedness, as well as the overview of spending these resources by local self-governments, with a clear overview of debts, due liabilities and payment deadlines.

CCE believes that the adoption of these measures would contribute to quality of Action plan, but what is essentially more important is the reform of Montenegrin society and establishment of higher level of openness and responsibility of government in Montenegro.

Boris Marić, senior legal advisor and member of Operational team for the development of Action plan and conducting of measures from Action plan in line with principles of Open Government Partnership