Montenegro: €4.8m for the fight against corruption – political will is a prerequisite

Montenegro has allocated €4.8m this year for the fight against corruption, which is twice more than in the past. It has been announced at the conference “The price of corruption – analysis of the anti-corruption policy effectiveness”, organised by the Centre for Monitoring and Research (CEMI). The participants of the conference have agreed that political will is the only prerequisite for this policy to produce concrete results.

Montenegro1

Presenting an analysis of the costs and financial results of the work of institutions that were involved in the fight against corruption in the previous institutional framework, Director of the CEMI’s department for public policy research, Ana Selic, said that there were notable changes to the legislative framework and budgetary investments between 2015 and 2016.

“Thus, €2.6m was invested in the fight against corruption in 2015, whereas we currently have €4.8m. In addition, significant legislative changes have been made in this period and the jurisdiction of the agency has been widened, the number of misdemeanour sanctions has been increased and the institution of seizing material benefits acquired by a criminal offense has been introduced,” Selic said.

Last year, as stated by the Commission for the Prevention of Conflict of Interest, more than 50,000 fines were charged. “Given that its budget for that year was €285,500, it means that the return value of their activities amounted to 17.2% of the investment,” Selic said. She said that Montenegro currently had an integrated legal framework and the institutions that can fight against corruption, adding that the only prerequisite for this policy to succeed and to produce concrete results was political will.

According to her, CEMI suggested using the funds collected by charging fines and part of the assets obtained through the social penalties paid for the criminal acts of corruption for financing the Fund for the protection of whistleblowers. Selic said that it could be concluded that in the period from 2010 to 2015 when the anti-corruption policies were implemented in Montenegro, perception about corruption among the population did not significantly decrease, as well as their willingness to report acts of corruption.

The chairman of the CEMI’s steering committee, Zlatko Vujovic, said that the move of the Special Prosecutor’s Office was encouraging since it showed that €19.5m was about to be returned to the municipal budget of Budva.

“This shows that if the Special Prosecutor’s Office costs the state of Montenegro slightly more than one million euro and will return the money to the Budva municipality this year, then hopefully we will have the opportunity during the year to welcome some prosecution’s moves which would justify from an economic point of view the amount the state allocates for its operations”, Vujovic said.

He said that it was unacceptable that someone abuses huge assets and earns tens of millions euro and may be fined and sentenced to one year in prison, while keeping all illegally obtained wealth. Asked by a reporter whether it is worth to be involved in the corruption in Montenegro, Vujovic said that the practice in the past has shown it was the case.

CDM

15 March 2106