Legislation partially met standards when it comes to procedure for distribution of public funds is transparent and legally binding. Government Regulation prescribe obligation to publish annual plan for announcing public tenders by competent authority no later than 31 January (only funds for the budget line 481). The plan contains information on the grantor, the area, the name and the planned period of announcement of the public competition. Allocation of funds is made on the basis of the competition to which the participants apply by submitting the application within a specified period, which must not be less than 15 days. Government Regulation is a legal binding document for local, province and national authorities. However, there are no clear sanctions for violation of its provisions.

Same is with the criteria for selection. The Regulation provides, in a very general way, criteria for the selection of the program, resulting in increasing the possibility for arbitrary decision-making. The public interest criterion has not been defined so far. The applicants have the right to review the submitted applications and the enclosed documentation. They also shall be entitled to file a complaint to the list of evaluation and ranking of the submitted programs within 8 days of its publication, and the competent authority must decide on the complaint within 15 days. Distribution of funds for youth and culture does not recognize the appeal mechanism. If some CSOs are not satisfied with decision, they can submit the appeals to the Administrative Court according to the provisions of the Law on general administrative procedure.

When it comes to clear procedures addressing issues of conflict of interest in decision-making, there is also a partially enabling environment. The Regulation stipulates that representatives of the expert public may be appointed to the commission without clear criteria for their selection.

0 – 20 Fully disabling environment20 – 40 Disabling environment
40 – 60 Partially enabling environment60 – 80 Enabling environment
80 – 100 Fully enabling environment

 The Regulation also stipulates that the members of the commission are obliged to sign a statement that they have no private interest in the work and decision-making of the commission without further explanation or clear definition of it. In the case of finding out about the conflict of interest, a member of the commission is obliged to inform the other members about it and to withdraw from further work of the commission.

Practice partially met standards when it comes to information relating to the procedures for funding and information on funded projects is publicly available. The GOCCS created and regularly maintains electronic Calendar of public calls as an application through which competent authorities from all levels of government need to publish: data on planned public calls intended for financing CSOs in the current year, in accordance with the provisions of the Regulation and before their announcement, at the beginning of the year; announced calls with the documentation (or a link to a site on the Internet where they can be found) and results of published calls, including basic information on supported projects/programs and their users. The Calendar presents Commitment’s from current Action plan for OGP initiative implementation fulfillment, but not legally binding mechanism for public administration bodies. However, at the end of 2019 calendar contained data on 781 planned calls of 175 public administration bodies, or about 90% of all calls published.

Practice indicates also partially enabling environment when it comes to respecting procedural rules. Data gathered through FoI requests show small number of cases of formal complaints by CSOs related to inadequate procedure for funding: 7 complaints were sent to MESTD and 4 complaints to MTTT MSALSG reported 4 complaints were sent to the Ranking list of applied projects and programs for financing from Budget found for national minorities. MCI reported that complaint to its decisions can’t’ be submitted, but there is a possibility for an administrative appeal to the Administrative court.

According to Independent Cultural Scene of Serbia (ICSS) Analysis, Secretariat’s of Culture of the City of Belgrade public call announced in spring 2019, as in previous years, showed very bad results in respecting procedure prescribed and high level of non-transparency of the work of commissions. Names of Commissions’ member were not published even after the ICSS’s request, list of rejected projects and justifications for supported projects weren’t published, a large number of “suspicious” programs implemented by CSOs established after calls for applications ended or implemented by legal entities which weren’t registered to act in cultural area were supported. 

8 of the surveyed CSOs stated they don’t agree that state bodies in their area of work follow the legally prescribed procedure for funding allocation.

According to Independent Cultural Scene of Serbia (ICSS) Analysis, Secretariat’s of Culture of the City of Belgrade public call announced in spring 2019, as in previous years, showed very bad results in respecting procedure prescribed and high level of non-transparency of the work of commissions. Names of Commissions’ member were not published even after the ICSS’s request, list of rejected projects and justifications for supported projects weren’t published, a large number of “suspicious” programs implemented by CSOs established after calls for applications ended or implemented by legal entities which weren’t registered to act in cultural area were supported. 

However, practice indicates disabling environment regarding the application requirements. 16 (30,7%) CSOs participated in MM Survey stated they agree that application requirements are burdensome (e.g. high costs, many documents; difficult to access documents). 15 (28,8%) surveyed CSOs agree that application criteria are clear. The most of respondents in focus groups stated that the most of public calls are being tailor made for GONGOs and the significant number of CSOs self-excluding themselves from the distribution of the state funds. CI reports Three freedoms and the Annual report on shrinking civic space in Serbia also detected this area as one of the most important areas for the GONGOs intervention.

Analyzing public calls announced in 2019 by the MLEVSP, MYS and MCI it was evidenced that clear, i.e. more precise eligibility criteria weren’t stated. Respecting the criteria on applicants, it was only stated it had to be associations registered in concrete area at relevant Register, but without stipulating how long they had to be registered (i.e. at least 3 -5 years). In addition, according to criteria in public call announced by MLEVSP for support to projects in area of family, child and social protection it was allowed to all registered associations to apply; none of specific criteria was stated.

Disabling environment has been detected also for decisions on tenders as well as conflict of interest situations. Anti-Corruption Agency announces official Opinions on cases of public officials’ conflict of interest. However, none of announced Opinions is referred to conflict of interest in a public funding allocation. Only 2 CSOs from MM Survey agreed that decisions on public funding allocation are fair. The majority of surveyed CSOs from ACT Survey stated that the State should allocate funds in a transparent way (68%).

Based on RCs regular communication with numerous CSOs around the Serbia it’s clear that cases of no-transparent financing of CSOs are increased. It is more often happened that funds are allocated to newly registered CSOs (connected to  or funded by LSG /party’s structures – GONGO/PONGO) and also that the amounts for representative and respective CSOs have been reduced several times (comparing to GONGO that also got the funds).

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