CDT: Party membership still influences employment in public sector of Montenegro

Flags of Montenegro and EU; Photo: Nikola Ristić

PODGORICA – After four years of implementation of the Public Administration Reform Strategy (2016-2020), Montenegro still has only a hint of creating an efficient public administration that citizens trust, concluded the Centre for Democratic Transition (CTD) at the presentation of research on public administration of Montenegro. The research was conducted with the support of the Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade and Balkan Trust for Democracy of the German Marshal Fund of the United States (BTD)

CTD stated that, despite all the efforts made and a number of implemented commitments, the expected results in public administration reform were not achieved.

„The unquestionable effort and a large number of commitments, unfortunately, did not deliver the expected effects,“ said CDT Deputy Director Biljana Papović, explaining that Montenegro had unsatisfactory results in key areas of reform.

Research has shown that optimizing public administration and regulating the right of free access to information are critical points that have not been successfully overcome, while the new policy coordination system could be barely regarded as satisfactory.

„All this indicates that we are making extremely slow progress in the key years of public administration reform,“ Papović said, adding that the existence of the Public Administration Reform Council did not contribute much to the process itself.

As she explained, the Council failed to materialize its power and exercise the necessary influence to improve the public administration reform process. The Council did not provide political support to the process, which is necessary to correct errors in the implementation of the reform

According to the survey, many mechanisms have been developed in the previous period that were supposed to strengthen citizen participation, but they not yet been put into practice.

„Apart from the low level of citizen interest, the problem is that the authorities are not open enough to accept citizens’ initiatives,“ Papović said.

Milena Gvozdenović, coordinator of the Research Center at CDT pointed out that the right to free access to information has been degraded by a new draft of the law in this area.

She recalled that instead of working to remedy the many shortcomings that existed in practice, the legislator opted to narrow down the rights that Constitution guaranteed and limit the space for control of areas vulnerable to corruption.

As she pointed out, public administration is still largely a depot of party cadres.

„There is still no reliable data on the total number of employees, and the effects of optimization are diminished by new employments,“ Gvozdenović concluded.

CDT conducted this research as part of a regional project aimed at exploring the progress of the countries of the region in meeting the political criteria on the road to the EU. In addition to Montenegro, the survey is being conducted in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina with the support of the Norwegian Embassy in Belgrade and BTD.