Media should encourage citizen participation in the decision-making process

The representative of the NGO Mladiinfo Montenegro attended the round table “On the role of the media in encouraging civic participation in the decision-making process” organized by the Center for Democracy and Human Rights (CEDEM) on June the 12th 2020 at the Cenre Ville Hotel in Podgorica.

The aim of the round table was to analyze the current situation, assess the challenges, and contribute to the strengthening of civic participation and the role of the media in this process through a constructive exchange of views.
At the very introduction, the coordinator of the project, Marko Pejovic, pointed out that “the media should encourage the participation of citizens in decision-making.”
“The media can educate the citizens with the method when it comes to the decision-making process. The example of Corona was the most ideal when it comes to the media effect and influence on the public because Montenegro is the first Corona free destination in the region. The media, together with civil society, research organizations, institutions and public administration institutions, can organize campaigns, gatherings and other activities that would raise the awareness of all of us”, Pejovic pointed out.
The Head of the Directorate for Development of e-Services, Ministry of Public Administration, Ms. Mirjana Begovic, pointed out that the civil sector and non-governmental organizations are of great importance in contributing to Montenegrin citizens to participate more in electronic platforms offered by various institutions, primarily the Ministry of Public Administration.

There has been a special platform on the website since 2015 – eParticipacija and the obligation of the Ministry of Public Administration is to measure how much institutions publish invitations for public hearings, consultations, participation in working groups and public announcements, and on the other hand citizens’ comments.
“The process is much more transparent than it used to be, because all calls and public announcements of public administration institutions can be seen on the eParticipacija portal”, said Mirjana Begovic, head of the Directorate for e-government development.
In her address, she pointed out that in the period until 2018, there were only four comments on drafts and proposals of laws and strategic documents by citizens.
“Since April 2019, the version of this site has been improved and in 2019 there were 179 public calls, and in the first half of 2020 the number of public calls is already 169.
In 2020, only one comment was submitted through this platform, which is why it is necessary for the media and the civil sector to inform citizens more through their communication channels, and on the other hand greater agility of public administration institutions because it happens that reports on public hearings are published as a special part, which further complicates the search”, said Begovic.

However, she stated that in the coming period, the Ministry of Public Administration will make additional efforts to educate officials and arrange available content on this portal, but also appealed to civil society representatives to subscribe to the publication of public calls, in order to receive information by e-mail about public hearings.
“In order to develop some good systems, technology today allows everything, the most important thing is to actually transform procedures. eParticipacija is the participation of citizens in a social process, making decisions important for their life and the life of the community, as well as services in the community and taking responsibility both in the process of implementation and in relation to the results. That is the most necessary condition for democracy and civil society”, concluded the head of the Directorate for the Development of e-Services.
Representatives of the civil sector of Montenegro who participated at the round table, agreed that most citizens are not informed about the platforms on which they can express their problems, public opinion, which will help them.
The round table was held within the project “E-democracy: civic participation in the digital age”, which is implemented with the support of the Ministry of Public Administration of Montenegro, the Center for Democracy and Human Rights announced.

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