Abolish or significantly limit fees for former public officials

Centre for Civic Education (CCE) appeals to the deputies of the Parliament of Montenegro to amend, at the first next session, the Law on Salaries in the Public Sector in regard to the rights upon termination of office. The existing framework allows officials to receive compensation for one year after the termination of their employment in the amount of the salary they received in the last month before the termination of their employment, which is an unjustified burden on the Budget.

The CCE assesses that such standardized regulation is contrary to the principles of equality and social justice, for the reason that public officials are placed in a disproportionately more favourable position compared to other employees in the country, including employees in the public sector who do not have the status of officials.

It should be noted that public officials enjoy numerous privileges during their mandate, and it is incomprehensible that some of these privileges, such as rather high fees, continue even after the end of the mandate. In addition, the reason for termination of office, i.e. whether that person resigned, was dismissed or simply terminated, is neglected.

The CCE also considers problematic that this type of right does not put any restrictions on the time spent in office and the reasons for termination. The absurdity of such a legal solution is illustrated by the fact that this right is acquired by officials who spend only one day in office, as well as officials who resign or are dismissed due to negligent performance or poor results.

Moreover, worrying are the figures published by some media, according to which about four million euros have been paid on this basis to former officials since the 2020 parliamentary elections until today. Having in mind the dynamics of political processes and that we are entering a period characterized by faster change of government at all levels and in all branches of government, it is to be expected that these costs will grow enormously, and even the budget of richer countries than Montenegro could hardly withstand.

Montenegro is the most generous towards former officials even in relation to the countries in the region, considering they have revoked this privilege or significantly limited the period and amount of receiving such compensation. For example, in Croatia, officials who have resigned or been dismissed are not entitled to this allowance, whereas in Serbia this allowance continues for three months after termination of office, except for MPs who have the right to it for six months.

The CCE believes that these funds can be more usefully redirected, for example, to the improvement of social programmes and the provision of assistance and benefits to socially endangered persons, renovation of obsolete preschools and school facilities, investment in medical devices and equipment, etc.

Accordingly, the CCE will submit to all parliamentary groups an initiative to amend Article 36 of the Law on Salaries in the Public Sector with regard to restrictions on the exercise of this right. We believe that the good legal regulations from the countries of the region should be used to make savings for the Budget, but also to effectively ensure the application of the principles of equality and social justice.

Vasilije Radulović, Programme associate