At today's session Council of the APC discussed and adopted the Report on the work of the APC for 2017.
It was noted that the Agency fully implemented the Work Plan for 2017, consistently and indiscriminately fulfilling all its preventive competencies, as indicated by data on increased trust of citizens in comparison to 2016, and that an increasing number of citizens recognize preventive competencies of the Agency.
It was also concluded that the Agency has achieved concrete and measurable results in the past year, and improved its performance in comparison to 2016 in all segments, thus contributing to reducing the risk of corruption, the real and potential conflict of interest in performing public functions, strengthening the integrity of the public and the private sector, as well as the transparency of electoral processes.
Through consistent and non-selective implementation of legal obligations and proactive approach, the Agency has contributed to the achievement of a high level of discipline and responsibility of taxpayers, which is confirmed by the fact that the violations were significantly reduced compared to last year's period. On the other hand, APC has provided a high level of transparency in relation to the electoral process, through the publication of data on expenditures during the election campaign.
In 2017, the Agency issued 64 decisions for the incompatibility of functions and the existence of conflicts of interest, on the basis of which 37 public officials resigned, while four public officials were dismissed from the office by the authorities. From the beginning of the work of the Agency, following the opinions and decisions of this body, 112 public officials resigned, while 30 public officials were dismissed from the office by the authorities.
Total of 7.032 Reports on Income and Assets under various bases of submission were delivered, and 1.620 public officials and civil servants were checked, which exceeded the Annual Verification Plan for 2017.
Referring to the funding of political entities and election campaigns in comparison to the previous year, the number of submitted decisions on the amount of membership of political entities increased from 42 Decisions to 51, as well as the number of annual consolidated reports of political entities from 41 to 65. The control of 2.990 reports was conducted.
Great progress has been made in respect of compliance with the provisions of the Law on the Financing of Political Entities and Electoral Campaigns, given the significantly lower number of submitted requests for initiating misdemeanor proceedings (21 requests in 2017 compared to 435 requests in the previous year).
Although the Agency found a high response from the subjects to the law in the application of the respective legal provisions, in certain situations it was forced to initiate misdemeanor procedures for violations of the Law, so during 2017 APC filed 423 requests for initiating misdemeanor proceedings, while the competent courts issued fines of over 150,000 euros, including cases initiated in 2016.
The Agency received 665 Reports on the implementation of integrity plans that were adopted in 2016. The Agency gave 107 individual recommendations for the improvement of integrity plans, as well as 335 recommendations for improving the reports on the implementation of integrity plans. It is particularly important to point out that the authorities were obliged to report on the implementation of the measures for risk management, and that it was estimated that 63,3% were realized, 15,6% were partially realized, while only 12,2% of the measures were assessed as unrealized in the first year of implementation of the integrity plan.
Seven candidates passed the exam for performing lobbying activities and received a certificate of passed exam. One request for the issuance of an authorization for conducting a lobbying activity was filed. The application was approved in November 2017, so the person who submitted the request was registered in the lobbyist register as the first official lobbyist in Montenegro. As a result of the campaign, there has been an increase in the number of applications on threats to the public interest that indicate the existence of corruption. During 2017, the number of reports of the public-related threats that indicates corruption was 69, while two requests for the protection of whistleblowers were filed, where in one case protection was granted to the whistleblower. In 4 cases, the Agency identified the threat of public interest on the basis of whistleblowers' reports, and 9 applications were forwarded to the competent prosecutor's office, and 17 other competent bodies were forwarded. The Agency also initiated 27 ex officio procedures in which, in 16 cases, 98 public enterprises identified the existence of a threat to the public interest in procedures related to the advertising of vacancies and the right to work.
The Agency adopted 7 opinions on the assessment of the vulnerability of regulations to the risks of corruption and compliance with international standards of valid legal texts, as well as 4 opinions on draft laws and other regulations and general acts.
Cooperation with other state bodies has been enhanced through the signing of several cooperation agreements, as well as the exchange of data with other institutions in real time through the Agency's information system, in which new modules and new data security have been developed continuously.
The Agency implemented numerous activities in 2017 in cooperation with international institutions and organizations: The European Commission, OSCE/ ODIHR, the Council of Europe and other relevant entities. In this regard, the Agency received significant support through international projects, such as the IPA 2014 Twinning Project "Support to the Implementation of Integrity Measures in Montenegro", in which six missions were implemented and the Horizontal Facility EU and Council of Europe for the Western Balkans and Turkey.
Membership obligations in regional and international institutions and organizations such as GRECO, the Intergovernmental Working Group on the Evaluation of the Application of the UNCAC Convention, the Anti-Corruption Network for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (ACN OECD), are continually being implemented.
The Agency examined the effects of its work through the results of a public opinion poll conducted by the DAMAR Plus agency in the field, which are encouraging, given that in 2017, 68,4% of respondents expressed trust in the work of the APC in comparison to 65,4% of respondents in 2016, while 69% of citizens in 2017 consider that the Agency has contributed to the fight against corruption.
In the forthcoming period, the Agency will continue to proactively monitor the implementation of three anti-corruption laws within the Agency's jurisdiction.