#ForeignPolicy #BusinessEnvironment #NorthOfMontenegro #DuškoMarković #PublicDebt #TheGovernment #EuropeanUnion #PrimeMinister #TheParliament #WesternBalkans #RegionalCooperation #CoastalZone #PressConference #StrategicPartner #PoliticalParties
Prime Minister Duško Marković assessed on the occasion of the first year of the Government’s work that the Government was successful, that it had achieved most of its goals, and in some departments more than planned. He noted that these results did not fall from the sky but were the result of a day-to-day work, in the atmosphere of never more aggressive political destruction by opposition parties that have boycotted Parliament’s work…
Prime Minister Duško Marković assessed on the occasion of the first year of the Government’s work that the Government was successful, that it had achieved most of its goals, and in some departments more than planned. He noted that these results did not fall from the sky but were the result of a day-to-day work, in the atmosphere of never more aggressive political destruction by opposition parties that have boycotted Parliament’s work.
At the beginning of his address, the Prime Minister recalled the key promises from the Exposé, which, as the then Prime Minister-designate, he presented to the MPs and the public.
In terms of the international affirmation of Montenegro, as the most important achievement, he singled out the full membership in the North Atlantic Alliance.
We became the 29th member of the NATO, thus ensuring the security of our country, but also creating the preconditions for accelerated economic growth and development. Montenegro has irrevocably tied its future to today’s most powerful military and political alliance and got its seat at the table where decisions are being made – for the first time in its history. Therefore, I highlight this event as the most important achievement in the first year of the work of the Government, PM Marković said.
The Government was very committed to the implementation of the second foreign policy priority –membership in the European Union. At the time of forming this Government, 22 chapters were opened and one was temporarily closed, and today there are 28 opened and three closed chapters, although it is quite certain that at least two chapters will be opened in the next few weeks.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the Government was proactive in the field of regional cooperation, especially through the Berlin Process, which brought significant benefits to the Western Balkans region in the renewal and modernization of backward infrastructure. In this way, a new way of communication among regional leaders was promoted, through intense dialogue at the highest level, which took place not only in Brussels and European capitals, but for the first time in our countries.
Montenegro has thus been given the opportunity to host the summit of the Adriatic Charter at the beginning of August this year –with the participation of the leaders of all the countries of the region – as well as the special honour of hosting the Vice President of the United States, Mike Pence. This event, as well as the assessments made on that occasion of Montenegro, strongly confirmed the strategic partnership of our country and the United States, and further strengthened the position and reputation of Montenegro on the international scene, the Prime Minister said.
The Prime Minister said that the Government’s economic policy activities were particularly important, recalling that a year ago in his Exposé he stated that only a real growth of the economy at the level of 4 percent guarantees the recovery and reduction of lagging behind developed European societies, and that a real growth of 2.7 percent was projected for 2017.
Now I can say that this year’s real growth of our economy is considerably above the planned level and will not be less than four percent! This is almost twice the average of the EU countries and about 1.5 percentage points more than expected growth in the Western Balkans region. Such dynamic economic growth is based on strong investment activity, as well as the growth of personal consumption and exports, generated by the results of an extraordinary tourist season, the Prime Minister said.
He said that such strong growth produced new jobs, growth in comparison to the last year, and encouraging fact that half of the 5.5 thousand new jobs refer to the real sector, as well as the increase in the average net salary in October which amounted to EUR 511, the highest in the region. In addition, the projected adjustment of pensions continued, and regular payments, despite all the challenges, was not and will be not questioned.
The Prime Minister recalled that this Government, in order to strengthen macroeconomic stability, was practically forced, in the first month of its work, to adopt measures to revise the budget deficit and public debt. He pointed out that fiscal consolidation was designed not to disturb the business environment, but to maintain attractiveness of Montenegro as an investment destination, and at the same time to protect the standard of the socially vulnerable categories of the population.
The collection of the budget revenues in eleven months of this year increased by EUR 64 million, or about five percent compared to the last year. According to estimates for 2017, budget revenues are expected to increase by EUR 95 million compared to the last year, while current budget expenditures will be lower by approximately EUR 50 million. Capital spending, as a development component, is about four times higher than in 2016, primarily due to the intensification of works on the construction of the motorway. All this leads to the estimation that the budget deficit for 2017 in relation to gross domestic product will be lower by 2.3 percentage points than planned by the Fiscal Strategy for this year.
In order to increase competitiveness, PM Marković said that in addition to the measures of fiscal consolidation, the Government is implementing structural reforms – reforms of the labour market and social policy, health care, education, tax policy, as well as state administration have been continued in order to increase its efficiency. In addition, the legislative framework in the field of space planning and facilities construction has been improved by enacting the new Law, while the most complex document – the Special Purpose Spatial Plan for the Coastal Zone is in the final phase.
Speaking about the net inflow of foreign direct investments in the first nine months, the Prime Minister said that it amounted to about EUR 312 million and expressed confidence that, with the preservation of a competitive tax environment, in the next year, this inflow will be even stronger. He emphasised that investments will not only be made in tourist facilities on our coast, but also in new centres in the northern part of Montenegro.
PM Markovic emphasised that this Government was fully committed to a more balanced regional development, with increased concern for the North, which is confirmed by the fact that in 2017 about 80% of the planned capital budget is directed to projects in the northern region. This is supported by the fact that Agrobudget was increased by 40 percent and that about 11 thousand agricultural producers received a certain kind of subsidy – of which a significant number is precisely from the north of Montenegro.
Speaking about the overall social environment in which the Government implemented its Program, PM Marković pointed out that these results were achieved in the atmosphere of never more aggressive political destruction by opposition parties that have boycotted Parliament’s work. Stating that the opposition parties used every opportunity to try to compromise the state and its institutions, he said that the Government’s response was clear and unambiguous: a firm belief in the institutional capacity of the state and a lot of trust in the work of the institutions of the system.
We are witnessing that during the last year, the boycott of Parliament by the opposition parties complicated the political scene. Although the Government did not cause this situation, in order to overcome it, I repeatedly offered a dialogue to the opposition, and even seats in the Cabinet. I think that political parties should seek a solution in the Parliament, and the Government will primarily focus on further economic progress and creating the conditions for a better life for all citizens, the Prime Minister noted.
Regarding the objections that the Government did not adequately respond to the prevention of the activities of various criminal structures, the Prime Minister said that the intensive activities of the security authorities through everyday raids and controls of suspicious individuals, groups and objects, show the opposite. In this way, the Prime Minister stressed, a clear message was sent that criminals in Montenegro cannot feel comfortable, that they are not privileged, nor will they be.
At the end of his address, the Prime Minister recalled another promise from the Exposé – that after a year the work of each minister would be evaluated and their position will depend on this assessment.
I assess that the work of the Government as a whole, as well as all ministers individually, was successful. We have achieved most of our goals, and in some departments more than planned. I am aware, of course, of certain deficiencies and the obligation to remove them, PM Marković said.
Stressing that the most realistic assessment about the work of the Government, its results and disadvantages will make the citizens, the Prime Minister expressed the belief that the majority is aware that in the first year of work the Government showed consistency, responsibility and full commitment to implementation of its Program.
I believe that the benefits of such work have started to feel in the everyday life of our citizens, and I have no dilemma that in the next year this will even more specifically reflect on the living standard, which is our key goal, the Prime Minister concluded.
Source: Government of Montenegro