Well-Paid Extras’ Roles on the Parliamentary Stage

In less than three years, solely concerning the earnings of Members of Parliament (MP) as well as the costs of their travel and per diems, the 27th convocation of the Parliament of Montenegro cost citizens over five million euros.  This significant cost is disproportionate to their engagement during plenary sessions. Some MPs did not even appear in the Parliament, most did not speak, and many spent more time on travels then in the Parliament Hall. This was indicated by an overview of the activities and earnings of the MPs of the 27th convocation of the Parliament of Montenegro presented in the publication ‘Well-Paid Extras’ Roles on the Parliamentary Stage’ published by the Centre for Civic Education (CCE).

The CCE has been monitoring the work of MPs of the 27th convocation of the Montenegrin Parliament, their activism in the plenum in comparison with their earnings, and periodically informing the public through lists of the most and least active MPs. The publication provides an overview from 23 September 2020 to 1 June 2023, i.e. from the beginning of the 27th convocation to the week preceding the parliamentary elections. In addition to the activities and earnings of the MPs, it also presents data on official travels and allowances, as well as the expenses of the President of the Parliament, which were notably and unusually increased after the dissolution of the Parliament.

27th convocation operated turbulently, often in a half-empty Parliament Hall due to the boycott by certain political entities, marked by the dismissal of the President of the Parliament and the votes of no confidence in the 42nd and 43rd Governments of Montenegro. Simultaneously, many important legislative texts were not in the focus of MPs, and crucial issues were addressed selectively and in a populist manner, lacking genuine dedication to the public interest.

The highest-paid MP, according to earnings for May was Branko Radulović (PzP/DF), with 2549.16 EUR, followed by Danijela Đurović (SNP), the former President of the Parliament, with 2549.16 EUR. Additionally, among the MPs whose May earnings exceeded 2000 EUR are Branka Bošnjak (PzP/DF), Boris Bogdanović (Democrats), Ivan Brajović (SD), Predrag Bulatović (DF), Branko Čavor (DPS), Dejan Đurović (DF), Dragan Ivanović (SNP), Božena Jelušić (URA), Miloš Konatar (URA), Dragan Krapović (Democrats), Simonida Kordić (DF), Jovanka Laličić (DPS), Miodrag Lekić (Democrats/DEMOS), Duško Marković (DPS), Genci Nimanbegu (FORCA), Melvudin Nuhodžić (DPS), Slaven Radunović (DF), Kenana Strujić Harbić (BS), Tamara Vujović (Democrats) and Danijel Živković (DPS). On the other side, the lowest MP salary in May was 1586.98 EUR, received by MP Bogdan Božović (SNP). The average MP net earnings was about 1880 EUR, calculated on the basis of the full net earnings, excluding MPs entitled to a wage difference. From 23 September 2020 to 1 June 2023, those MPs who served the entire term, on average, earned slightly over 60,000 EUR in net amounts.

Overall, the activities of MPs in the parliamentary plenum were not proportional to their earnings. Some of the most obvious examples are certain MPs from the DPS, who, spoke in plenum for only a minute or two over a period of less than three years (Mevludin Nuhodžić and Branimir Gvozdenović) or did not speak at all, purposefully attending only specific voting (like Duško Marković).

Since the start of the 27th convocation, from 23 September 2020 to 30 May 2023, the most active speaker in the plenum was MP Momo Koprivica (Democrats), followed by Branko Radulović (PzP/DF), Boris Mugoša (SD), Miloš Konatar (URA), Slaven Radunović (DF/NSD), Marko Milačić (True Montenegro), Danijel Živković (DPS), Branka Bošnjak (PzP/DF), Andrija Popović (LP), and Damir Šehović (SD). The total time spent speaking in the plenum was just under 400 hours, with the top 10 most active MPs speaking for almost 40% of that time, or 147 hours.

The lowest level of activity in the plenum is recorded among MPs from the DPS (Democratic Party of Socialists), starting from Mevludin Nuhodžić and Branimir Gvozdenović, followed by Nele Savković Vukčević, Miloš Nikolić, Abaz Dizdarević, Branko Čavor, Dragica Sekulić, Vladan Raičević, Dragan Vukić and Maja Vukićević. Additionally, there is no record of MP Duško Marković (DPS) speaking during the plenary session throughout almost three years of his MP mandate.

The work led the Members of the Parliament of Montenegro all over the world – across the region, through EU member states and Nordic countries, to Russia, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, Colombia, the USA, etc. Within less than three years, they visited a total of 61 cities across 44 countries, taking part in various conferences, sessions, forums, summits, and observation missions. Official travels did not stop even after the decree of the President of the State dissolving the Parliament, with the President of the Parliament, Danijela Đurović notably leading in this regard. According to available data, official travels cost the citizens app. 330,530.64 EUR, which includes flight tickets, accommodation, transportation costs, insurance, and other expenses, where they were not covered by the organizers, as well as per diems. This does not include expenses related to the use of plane of the Government.

Among the MPs whose official travels incurred the highest expenses, stands out Predrag Sekulić (DPS), who was a member of multiple committees and commissions during the 27th convocation. During the 27th convocation of the Parliament, Sekulić earned 71,819.37 EUR in net wages over 32 months, and when business travel expenses are added, the total expenses exceeded 100,000 EUR. For the same period, he spoke in the parliamentary plenum for 3 hours and 55 minutes. Next is MP Vladan Raičević (PzP/DF), who cost the state over 80,000 EUR, which includes salaries, per diems, and travel costs, while during the same period, he was recorded speaking in the Parliament for only 55 minutes.

Among those who travelled extensively, the most active in the plenum was the MP Slaven Radunović (DF/NSD) with over 11 hours of active engagement in the plenum, and with paid salaries and per diems in the amount of 72,262.04 EUR.  Frequent travellers also were Maja Vukićević and Maksim Vučinić from the Democratic Front (DNP and Labour Party), President of the Parliament Danijela Đurović from SNP, Ivan Brajović from SD, then Danilo Šaranović and Dragan Krapović from the Democrats, along with Andrija Nikolić from DPS. Several MPs have renounced daily allowances for official travel, such as MPs of Democrats Boris Bogdanović and Aleksa Bečić, who waived per diems for trips to Baku, Brussels, Washington, Istanbul, Antalya, Skopje and Ljubljana.

The source of all data published in this publication is the Parliament of Montenegro. Some of data is publicly available on the Parliament’s website, but the majority was collected by the CCE team through requests for free access to information. Therefore, in order to increase transparency and accountability, the recommendation is to further expand scope of publicly available information as well as to publish on a monthly basis the information about earnings, travel, allowances, and activities of MPs, along with accompanying quarterly and annual overviews, so that citizens have a clear picture of who represents them, to what extent, and in what manner.

Publication ‘Well-Paid Extras’ Roles on the Parliamentary Stage, was prepared with the support of the Core Grant from the regional project SMART Balkans – Civil Society for a Shared Society in the Western Balkans, implemented by the Center for Civil Society Promotion (CPCD), Center for Research and Policy Making (CRPM), and the Institute for Democracy and Mediation (IDM), financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of Centre fo Civic Education (CCE) and does not necessarily reflect the positions of the CPCD, CRPM, IDM and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Nikola Mirković, Programme Associate