The Agency for the Prevention of Corruption, in partnership with the Office for European Integration and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and with the support of the Embassy of Norway, presented the performance of state administration bodies and social and child protection in the implementation of anti-corruption measures.
For the needs of the index, the Agency has developed a Methodology for assessing the implementation of anti-corruption measures, in a consultative spirit and in cooperation with representatives of state bodies and institutions of social and child protection, and based on the principles of the methodology implemented by the Commission for Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights of the Republic of Korea. The purpose of the methodology is to assess whether the authorities are implementing anti-corruption measures, whether the implementation has led to a certain change, but also to encourage the authorities to be proactive when planning and implementing anti-corruption measures.
At today's event, called Integrity in Action, Director of the Agency for the Prevention of Corruption Jelena Perovic said that this institution, which monitors the adoption and implementation of integrity plans, as one of the key anti-corruption mechanisms, provides continuous support to the state authorities.
"How much progress we have achieved together is evidenced by the fact that in the OECD Report on the Competitiveness of the countries of the Western Balkans, which was published in mid-2021, it was stated that Montenegro has the most advanced system of support and monitoring of integrity plans in the region with a rating of 4.5 of possible 5."
In addition to the positive and encouraging trends, the Agency recognizes the scope for strengthening the integrity of government bodies, which is also confirmed by the development of the Methodology for assessing the implementation of anti-corruption measures.
H.E. Jørn Erling Gjelstad, ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway in Belgrade, noted that, although Montenegro has a good legislative framework in the fight against corruption, the assessment of the implementation of anti-corruption measures indicates that there are a number of legal procedures that the state authorities do not implement consistently.
Chief negotiator Zorka Kordić pointed out that for success in the negotiation process, the synergy of the actions of all three branches of government and the development of concrete mechanisms and tools for the implementation of the legislative framework, which in practice enable the Montenegrin administration to function well for the benefit of the citizens, is essential.
"Just as the systemic response of the entire society and all three branches of government is important for the overall reform of the judiciary and the suppression of corruption, the joint action of all our institutions and partners is crucial for successful progress towards EU membership," said Kordić and thanked the Government of the Kingdom of Norway for continuously supporting the capacity building project for the accelerated integration of Montenegro into the EU for five years, which the Office for European Integration is implementing in cooperation with UNDP.
Daniela Gašparikova, permanent representative of the UNDP in Montenegro, pointed out that the additional value of this process is that it encouraged the pilot institutions to improve their mechanisms for preventing corruption.
"The findings of the assessment will be useful to the Ministry of Finance and Social Welfare for further improvement of the system of internal financial controls. "Also, the Agency for the Protection of Personal Data and Free Access to Information now has findings that will enable it to work with institutions to fulfill their obligations regarding the publication and updating of certain information in accordance with the Law," Gašparikova said.
Through this process, the Agency measured whether 63 state authorities implement anti-corruption measures arising from legal obligations, with a focus on the Law on Prevention of Corruption, the Law on Management and Internal Controls, as well as the Law on Free Access to Information, as well as those that do not arise from legal obligations, but that can certainly improve the integrity of their work. All information collected during the process was checked and agreed with the authorities, after which the institutions were ranked. This approach gives strong legitimacy to this process and encourages the Agency to use this tool in the future in the fight against corruption.
The assessment index examines the effect of the implementation of anti-corruption measures and encourages authorities to be proactive in planning and implementing anti-corruption measures. The effect was measured in the establishment of institutional mechanisms for managing the risks of corruption, internal control, for the availability of information about work, professional conduct of employees, raising the awareness of employees about ethics and integrity and preventing conflicts of interest, i.e. strengthening the ethical culture.
The index of anti-corruption measures in the state administration system is 45%, and in the social and child protection system 41%, which indicates that there is room for improvement in both systems in the planning and application of anti-corruption measures. Both systems are the most successful in creating conditions for the implementation of regulations to prevent corruption, while they achieve the least effect in creating an ethical culture.
When it comes to the system of social and child protection, the best-ranked institution is PI Daily Center Podgorica (71.5%), while the lowest performance is PI Center for Social Work for the municipalities of Plav and Gusinje (16.7%). When it comes to state authorities, the best performance was achieved by the Ministry of Public Administration, Digital Society and Media (76.4%), and the lowest by the Revenue and Customs Administration (10.5%).
The assessment indicated that it is necessary to strengthen internal controls, mechanisms for detecting and reporting corruption, ethical and professional behavior, i.e. raising employees' awareness of ethics and integrity, as well as human resources management.
The methodology was developed within the framework of the project "Strengthening capacities to accelerate the accession of Montenegro to the European Union", which is financed by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and implemented by UNDP in cooperation with the Office for European Integration and the General Secretariat of the Government.