01 Dec 14
Montenegro Urged to Strengthen Anti-Corruption Bill
Proposed new regulations will not be effective in the fight against corruption, a key challenge in the country’s EU accession process, a Montenegrin NGO has warned.
Local watchdog Institute Alternative, IA, called on Montenegrin parliamentarians on Sunday not to vote for the Anti-Corruption Bill because the government’s proposed solutions to the country’s graft problems are “inaccurate and incomplete”.
The head of the IA, Stevo Muk, said that the biggest omissions relate to the imprecise definition of conflicts of interest and procedures for the disclosure of assets of public officials, the insufficient encouragement to whistleblowers to report corruption and the inadequacy of the proposed powers of the proposed new Anti-Corruption Agency.
He said that the strongest tool of the Agency, which is scheduled to be established in 2016, should be administrative investigations – the ability to freely collect data from the state authorities.
“However, under the current bill, the Agency will be deprived of access to information and documents if the state authorities refuse to provide them,” Muk warned.
Montenegro’s cabinet approved the Bill on Prevention of Corruption last month – one of the five priority legislative measures in the context of the negotiating process with the EU.
The bill provides for the setting up of the independent Anti-Corruption Agency which will unify and strengthen the competences of all existing institutions combating corruption in Montenegro, the government said.
The Agency will be able to exercise its jurisdiction in preventing conflict of interest, restricting the exercise of public functions, checking property cards and the receipt of gifts, donations and sponsorships.
A significant part of the new regulations are related to performance and protection of whistleblowers, but IA warned that mechanisms to protect and reward people who report corruption were not included.
The recent European Commission progress report on Montenegro warned the country that the current pace of fulfilling the EU’s conditions, especially with regards to anti-corruption policies, could mean that the country will not reach necessary standards for joining the European bloc any time soon.
Corruption remains prevalent in many areas and continues to be a serious problem, requiring the effective implementation of deep and lasting reforms, the report said.
Source: Balkan Insight (Montenegro)