Initiative for the adoption of a new Strategy for the reduction of poverty and social exclusion

Strategy for the reduction of poverty and social exclusion expired in 2012 and has not been innovated since. There was no adequate assessment on its performance, and new measures for the following period were not envisaged either. In addition to series of active strategic documents in the area of social and children protection, rights of persons with disabilities, rights of refugees, health, employment which are still active, great number of measures which address the economically and socially most endangered groups of the population, failed to yield satisfying results.

Data of MONSTAT indicate that the percentage of poor people increased from 9,3% in 2011, to 11,3% in 2014, while the severity of poverty was doubled during the same period, from 0,7% in 2011, to 1,4% in 2014. In 2013, the percentage of unemployed reached 20%. And in spite of these results, we witness the adoption of series of new laws, such as the Law on mandatory health insurance and Labour law and bylaw legislations which increase life costs, obligations of citizens towards the state, which will result in direct negative consequences for the economically most endangered and socially most excluded part of society.

United Nations saw even in 2013 that Montenegro will not be able to meet the first Millennium objective by 2015 – reduction of poverty. Then they emphasised that it was of special concern that the level of poverty was increasing and that social inequalities were worsening: level of poverty in village areas and in the north is almost twice bigger than the national average. Nearly a half of citizens in Montenegro is poor, as well as the citizens in rural areas. Roma and Egyptians represent the most vulnerable category of poverty, followed by the refugees, displaced persons users of material aid, pensioners, long-term unemployed people and persons with disabilities. Percentage of youth unemployment is extremely high and the number of young people who are not in the educational system, but are not employed, or searching for work either, is high. Such data, as well as the series of legislative actions which prove the social insensitiveness of the state, entirely reflect the fiasco of strategic framework and measures undertaken in this area.

Within this context, Coalition for social changes proposed an urgent prioritisation of the area of reduction of poverty and social exclusion in the following manner:

1. Adoption of a new framework document – Strategy for the reduction of poverty and social exclusion and Action plan for its implementation;
2. Establishment of the body for the monitoring of the implementation of Strategy and related strategies from the area of employment, education, health and social inclusion;
3. Evaluation of social-economic influence of the existing drafts and proposals of Laws in the area of employment, education, health and social inclusion and their amendment in line with the millennium objectives of reducing the poverty and social exclusion.

Based on current legislative framework and amendments that are being prepared, on which we reflected in previous announcements, there is a justified concern that the percentage of poor will include one fifth of the population of Montenegro, should it continue at this pace, during next two years, and that the quarter of the population (primarily women) will be unemployed. Based on the abovementioned reasons, we believe that relevant institutions must urgently take measures in order to prevent Montenegro from turning into a third-world country.

Members of the Coalition for social changes: Juventas, Hotline Podgorica, Centre for Civic Education (CCE), Centre for Roma initiative, CeMI, Association of Youth With Disabilities of Montenegro, AD Centre Ekvista, Queer Montenegro, „Naše doba“ and CAZAS.