Municipalities continue to allocate funds beyond NGO competition

Municipalities keep allocating funds beyond competition based on distance rights NGOs – announced by the Executive Director of the Center for Development of NGOs, Ana Novakovic Djurovic, at the conference “My Community- Strong Community” which was held at the Hotel Podgorica.
The Executive Director of the Center for Development of NGOs, Ana Novakovic Djurovic, said that the conference “My community – Strong Community” is activity of the same name project which they realized in last two years with the support of the EU office in Montenegro. The decision had been made to activate NGOs and to create their lives into communities. In order to get more active they need to have mechanism, so the local authority should be their first level. Where the society would be informed and not to delay with national dynamics and depend on decisions from above.” Another reason is that we realized the support of the EU on local level because we thought that development of local authorities is unjustifiably neglected. So, the biggest investments in terms of human, technical and financial capacities are still retained at the national level. Novakovic Djurovic said that the European Commission in the final identification document accompanying the report for Montenegro, states that is needed to find a balance between central region and local authority which will enable reforms of closer access to citizens. She said that report for Montenegro specifically states that cooperation between local authorities and civil society it has yet to develop. What is alike cooperation municipalities with citizens? Have they really enabled provision for services? There’s a result of our research for 2018 that says something about that. For an example, in previous year, according to available data only five citizens’ initiatives were submitted. This information is not a surprise: the slow pace of change at the local level has negative influence on motivations of citizens to get involved in their implementation. Therefore, civic activism is still insufficient and inefficient – she said. NGOs very poorly participate in working bodies of the municipalities. Usually there’s no exact procedures by which the representatives of NGOs are selected for members of working groups. This is often just an excuse for municipalities not to include NGOs or they choose by non – transparent procedures some representatives. Many representatives of local NGOs are not satisfied with the funding process on local level. She said that even the representatives of local authorities do not hide their dissatisfaction. There’s few key issues in this domain: non – transparent procedure for project evaluation, incompetence of committee members and a very small amount of funds for programs and projects of local NGOs. She said that many municipalities still allocate funds beyond competitions based on distance rights of municipalities presidents which is also a non – transparent legal procedures and does not contribute to quality projects in municipalities. Unfortunately, this trend is supported by intentions of authority Kotor which, basically till yesterday, was a pioneer in the allocations of funds for NGOs projects in the amount of 1% of the current budget. There’s an ongoing discussion for reducing these funds by half but that proposal was not followed by adequate reasoning and argumentation. We noticed bad practices even for a allocation of space for NGOs. According to available information in last year 55 civil society organizations used premises owned by municipalities free of charge. The representatives of NGO sector are not satisfied because regulations for space allocation do not exist. This leads to non transparent and discriminatory procedures for the selection of organizations to which they allocate space. Novakovic Djurovic said that they put effort into resolving this problem by mentioned their rights. One of the key information on how we met these challenges in cooperation with the Community or Municipalities and the Ministry of Public Administration was to develop five models of local regulations which we need and for which we believe they would regulate all this issues, allocate the space and project financing of NGOs, participation of citizens and NGOs in working groups – said Novakovic Djurovic. She said that these are models of decisions on the manner and participation procedure for local citizens in public structure, decisions about participation of representatives from NGOs in working groups, decision about conditions and procedures for financing the projects and program of NGOs, decision about the procedure for leasing premises owned by NGOs, the decision on cooperation of local self-government and NGO and annexes of models the Rules of Procedure of Municipal Assembly and defines participation of NGO representatives at the session of local parliament. Minister of Public Administration, Suzana Pribilovic, said that improving the environment for the development of civil society, development of participatory democracy which implies a stronger role of citizens and NGO in decision making and local public policy making which are of common interest to the local community- is common the goal. Cooperation between NGOs and local authorities is a particularly important mechanism for active citizens’ involvement in the process of public policy making which enables better information of citizens, as well as listening and realization of the needs of society on the one hand but also more transparent work of local governments on the other. She added that guided by that idea and at the proposal of the Prime Minister, in the second half of this year, we organized meetings with NGOs from north in three municipalities: Bijelo Polje, Pljevlja and Berane for the reason to hear all opinion and proposals of NGO sector how to improve their work. Dialogue and constructive cooperation between local governments and the local civil sector in decision making processes give greater legitimacy to certain public policies for its easier implementation. Advocating policy that contributes to the development of partnerships between local authorities and civil sector, the ministry of Public Administration has strengthened normative legal framework in order to promote an open and democratic society- Pribilovic said. Assistant Secretary General of the Union of Municipalities of Montenegro, Sasa Scekic, said that he expects continuous cooperation with the Center for Development of NGOs in coming period. At the end of conference the certificates for standard ISO 9001 have been awarded to the NGOs representatives: to Hatidze Neljaj – S.O.S. Hotline for women and children violence victims, to Perica Turkovic – authorized representative of the Montenegrin certification body, to Zdravko Janjusevic – Democratic Center Bjelovar, and to Filip Stanojevic from NGO Lovcen.

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