Civil Society in Montenegro Demands Minimum 1% of the Annual State Budget for Financing CSOs and Decentralized Selection of Priority Areas for Financing

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The working group for preparation of the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on NGOs met on 27th and 28th May, 2015, to discuss the draft prepared by the Ministry of Interior, as well as the proposals submitted by the CSO Coalition “Cooperation Towards the Goal” (”Saradnjom do Cilja”) and the Association of Artists of Montenegro during the preliminary consultation phase. Amendments to the draft were adopted by the working group with certain corrections of the text and took into consideration opinions of civil society representatives regarding the financing of CSOs projects and activities from the state budget, and selecting priority areas for financing.

The CSO representatives suggested that the state funding for CSO projects should be at least 1% of the budget of Montenegro on an annual basis. According to them, the introduction of a minimum percentage for financing CSO projects will ensure better implementation of public policy on a national and local level, because the funds will be used only for that purpose. This cannot be regarded as a cost, rather as an investment in raising the quality of life of the citizens of Montenegro, since CSOs articulate the needs of citizens through their work and contribute to solving the problems in the community. Failing to provide functional and adequate financing of CSO projects and activities, carries a risk that only a small number of CSOs will survive, resulting in lack of civic activism and slowing down of the necessary changes in the Montenegrin society. The advantage of establishing a minimum percentage of the state budget gives greater assurance that the Government will not reduce the amount allocated for CSOs, despite economic conditions.

Further on, the CSO representatives suggested that priorities for financing projects and programs in specific areas of public interest should be determined and planned within specific consumer units i.e. at the level of ministries and state authorities, thus arguing for a “decentralized” model of financing. Each ministry, on an annual level, determines priority areas for allocation of financial resources according to their strategies on national and local level, with the aim to solve problems related to public good, and these programs are carried out in partnership with CSOs. Therefore, optimal solutions can be reached if CSOs are also included in the priority (programming) identification.

The CSO representative in the working group additionally pointed out the need to begin as soon as possible with the drafting of necessary secondary legislation and amendments to the Law on games of chance, and that this working group should also be attended by members of the working group for preparation of the Draft Law on Amendments to the Law on NGOs.

The full report from the meeting of the working group is available here.

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