By Adnan Prekic – Podgorica
Montenegrin campaign called “Zero Grey Economy” has won the second prize of the Open Government Partnership’s international initiative competing. The award-winning campaign is part of the project of “Engaging citizens in the fight against grey economy”, which is helping authorities to tackle grey economy more effectively, and diverted a significant amount of money from grey economy into social good. In the first six months of the campaign, citizens reported over 1.500 irregularities related to grey economy, which resulted in collecting 500.000 euro.
The public engagement campaign “Be Responsible. Zero Grey Economy”, which was jointly developed by the Government of Montenegro and the Faculty for Electrical Engineering in Podgorica, with significant support from the UNDP Montenegro, the UK Embassy in Montenegro, and NGOs, has won the second prize of the Open Government Partnership’s international initiative competing with the best projects from 33 countries, which promote citizen involvement in implementing public policy.
The montenegrin campaign won the prestigious award because of, as it was stated, its contribution to boosting cooperation between civil and public sectors, and the active involvement of citizens in implementing public policy.
Open Government Partnership’s first prize was awarded to a project from Denmark, while the third-ranked project came from the Philippines. Projects from Italy, Netherlands, Mexico, Great Britain, Peru, the United States and France also found themselves among the top 10. At the award ceremony, top officials from the three-highest ranked countries spoke about the award-winning initiatives and presented the winning teams.
Montenegro’s President Filip Vujanovic said that this campaign teaches us an important lesson – namely, that meaningful and effective collaboration with citizens can provide public authorities with the resources, skills and credibility they need to implement policies more successfully. He stated that this project would not have been possible without advanced academic knowledge of representatives of the Faculty for Electrical Engineering in Podgorica, significant support from the UNDP Montenegro and the British Embassy in Podgorica, as well as the dedicated work of inspection services, vision and leadership of the Finance Ministry. President of Montenegro also thanked responsible citizens and media for their continued support for the campaign.
In the first six months of the “Be Responsible. Zero Grey Economy” campaign, Montenegrins reported over 1.500 irregularities related to grey economy to the authorities, which resulted in collecting 500.000 euros in fines. Owing to the success of the phase I of the campaign, the government has decided to extend it by the end of 2014.
The campaign involves assigning half of this amount (250.000 euro) to five community projects proposed and voted on by citizens, which are related to purchasing medical equipment for hospitals, redesigning three day-care centres for children with disabilities, landscaping a park, reconstructing an old persons’ home, and buying equipment for kindergartens. The continuation of the campaign will enable further collection of funds for socially beneficial projects, which will again be voted on by citizens.