Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure and honour to be here with you to mark finalisation of this project important for the Agency for Prevention of Corruption and for other institutions in Montenegro with which the Agency for Prevention of Corruption cooperates in the preventing corruption. This extremely important project has been, amongst other things, an enormous support to the improvement of implementation of integrity measures in public sector institutions, systems for reporting by and protection of whistle-blowers and lobbying legislation.
I particularly emphasise that international cooperation and continuous capacity building of the Agency are, besides transparency of the work, the key priorities of this body.
In an endeavour to successfully exercise its mandate and fulfil expectations of domestic public and international partners, the Agency has focused its activities on creating conditions and building capacity for efficient implementation of statutory competences.
One of the good examples of international assistance to the Agency is IPA Twining Project “Support to the Implementation of Integrity Measures” funded by the European Union and implemented by the Agency until April 2017, in cooperation with the twinning partner National Agency for Prevention of Corruption of the Republic of Italy.
I express satisfaction at being able to say that this IPA project has enabled exchange of experiences between Italian and Montenegrin agencies, while it also helped the Agency in the previous period to achieve specific and measurable results in all areas of its work that were included by the goals and measures of this project.
All project activities have been fully implemented and twining partners from Montenegrin and Italian agencies were successful in involving a large number of Montenegrin institutions in implementation of its project activities, and particularly those which the Agency cooperates with in the exercise of its competences. In that regard, I wish to express gratitude to the twining partners and Montenegrin institutions at national and local levels for good cooperation and successful implementation of the project.
Through this project, the coordinating and supervisory role of the Agency was strengthened for the purpose of ensuring more efficient implementation of integrity plans in Montenegrin institutions which were obligated under the law to adopt integrity plans, appoint integrity managers and adopt reports on the implementation of integrity plans.
I particularly emphasise an extremely high percentage of the fulfilment of the obligations mentioned above, and I can confirm this with the data according to which 98% of state bodies appointed integrity managers and adopted integrity plans.
Furthermore, the project included analysis of the legislation and of its application in four areas exposed to special risk of corruption, such as public procurement, privatisation, health and education, which will contribute to elimination of the risk of corruption in institutional and legislative framework and to further strengthening of integrity in these areas.
The Agency’ s capacities for application of legal provisions related to handling complaints and protection of whistle-blowers have also been strengthened. On the basis of analysed legal provisions and their current application, recommendations for improvement were given and these will be useful in formulating proposals for amendments to the Law on Prevention of Corruption in respect of reports by and protection of whistle-blowers.
As far as lobbying is concerned, focus has been placed on raising awareness of general and interested public about lobbying, while legislation was also considered with the aim of ensuring stronger implementation. Progress has been evident in this respect as well, compared to the earlier period, as a result of which six lobbyists and one legal person have so far been registered in the Agency’ s register of lobbyists.
These are only some of the Agency’ s results achieved during implementation of this project and I believe that full effects of project activities will be considerably more tangible in our future engagement.
Finally, I would like to state that since its establishment until today the Agency has made considerable contribution to the overall fight against corruption and with non-selective and consistent application of the laws falling within its competences it contributed to strengthening transparency of the work done by public sector.
Let me remind you that, based on decisions and opinions of the Agency in respect of public officials, 226 public officials from different categories either resigned or were dismissed by state bodies. Also, as a result of violation of anticorruption laws falling within its competence, the Agency initiated 1,655 misdemeanour procedures and competent courts imposed fines in the amount of EUR 354,000.
The Agency has also recorded a huge increase in the number of reports filed by whistle-blowers in 2018 compared to the earlier period, which speaks volumes of citizens’ trust in the work done by this body. This trust is also confirmed by results of the last annual public opinion survey published by the Agency in 2008 and conducted for the needs of this institution by the agency Damar plus.
According to the survey results, 66.4% of citizens believe that the Agency contributed to the overall fight against corruption in Montenegro, while 60% of respondents in this survey, just like in previous annual surveys, said they trusted the work of the Agency in fighting corruption. In this survey, and in the previous one, the Agency ranked first among institutions which citizens trusted the most if they were to report corruption.
Finally, I would like to express gratitude to all those who participated in implementation of this successful project, as well to the representatives of the National Agency for Fight against Corruption of the Republic of Italy and European Union Delegation and to our employees who participated in all phases of the project, and particularly to the esteemed Ms. Sonja Lestvik, permanent twinning advisor, with whom we had successful cooperation throughout the project.
The Agency will continue to engage in intensive international cooperation as it has done so far and will be a reliable partner to all national and international entities in prevention of corruption, which is a common goal on the path of Montenegro to the EU integration, while it will remain committed to the improvement of our practice in line with the best experiences and standards of the European Union.