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Fulfillment of obligations from the Protocol on cooperation between the State audit institution and Parliament of Montenegro contributes to further improvement of control over the spending of public funds

Podgorica, 25th February, 2021 - The Conference dedicated to cooperation between the State audit institution and Parliament of Montenegro, supported by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, has been held today at the Parliament of Montenegro.

While opening the Conference, President of the Parliament of Montenegro, Mr. Aleksa Bečić, has thanked the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and British Embassy in Podgorica for recognizing the need for strengthening the oversight role of the Parliament and closer collaboration between Parliament and SAI. He has welcomed the readiness for taking concrete steps to strengthen the Parliament's role. In that context, President Bečić has pointed out that strengthening the oversight role of the parliament is a task that the 27th convocation of the Parliament proclaimed as a priority in its work, and therefore the cooperation between the legislative branch and SAI is of key importance. President Bečić has also referred to the work of the Parliamentary Budget Office, which functions as an organizational unit of the Parliamentary Institute at the Parliament of Montenegro.

"The effective work of the Parliamentary Budget Office, through professional support and preparation of materials, and its close cooperation with the SAI, is crucial for the efficient work of MPs in this area, as it contributes to a better understanding of audit reports, findings and recommendations," he has said.

The President of the Senate of the State audit institution PhD Milan Dabović, has reminded that the systemic and proactive activities of the Parliament and State audit institution are continuously improving the public finance management system. The key objective of the State audit institution is to act systematically - that its audit results lead to better systemic solutions and improvement of work in the public sector.

The director of the program for the Western Balkans at the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Mr. Emil Atanasovski, emphasized that he has been very satisfied with today's event. "Today's event is also the first step in strengthening cooperation with relevant committees and Parliamentary Budget Office - an office established as part of our program - and expanding regional cooperation. "Through our program, we will also try to provide active support to the media and civil sector to strengthen their understanding of the work of the State Audit Institution and help further improve the ties between institutions and citizens," Atanasovski has concluded.

The British Ambassador to Montenegro, N.E. Karen Maddox has said that this conference shows the ties between the State Audit Institution and the Parliament of Montenegro are strengthening. "The State audit institution submits reports to the Parliament, reporting on how public funds are spent. This allows the Montenegrin Parliament - consisting of publicly elected representatives of all parties - to get information about how the government is using taxpayers' money. The Parliament must therefore have the right mechanisms in place which will allow it to fully consider the audit reports it receives and act on them. "Our previous efforts to establish a Parliamentary Budget Office were an important step towards that goal," has concluded Ambassador Karen Maddox.

The session "Support and role of the State Audit Institution" was dedicated to discussing the implementation of obligations from the Protocol on cooperation between the State audit institution and Parliament of Montenegro, as well as the SAI Communication Strategy for the period 2020-2024.

Member of the Senate Nikola N. Kovačević has said that the fulfillment of the role of supreme audit institution within a financial control system depends on the quality of cooperation and relations with the Parliament. "The preventive role of the State audit institution is reflected in determining the findings and giving recommendations to the audited entities in the audit reports, which aim to help them eliminate irregularities and weaknesses in their business operations. The process of monitoring implementation of the recommendations of the Supreme audit institution is a process that cannot function effectively without the participation and support of the Parliament ", has said member of Senate Nikola N. Kovačević.

Member of Senate Zoran Jelić has informed the representatives of the Parliament of Montenegro about the Communication Strategy of the SAI and the Action Plan, presenting activities related to strengthening communication and cooperation between the State audit institution and Parliament. "I am convinced that the State audit institution and Parliament as key actors in the accountability system will take responsibility and remain committed to the principles of partnership defined by the Protocol on Cooperation and implementation of activities from the Communication Strategy cooperation will further strengthen the role ", has concluded member of Senate Zoran Jelić.

During the session "Role of the Parliamentary Budget Office and Cooperation with the State audit institution", member of Senate PhD Branislav Radulović has informed the participants about the results of the SAI's work in development and results of performance audits, as well as the process of monitoring the implementation of recommendations. In cooperation with the SAI, the Parliamentary Budget Office has prepared the publication "Performance audit", which has been presented to the participants. The publication provides an overview of the performance audit process with statistics on the findings and recommendations from the conducted performance audits.

The measures and obligations defined by the Protocol on cooperation between the Parliament and State audit institution will be elaborated and discussed during the second working day of the Conference. Cooperation between the Westminster Foundation for Democracy and the State audit institution will continue through performing a series of previously agreed activities aimed at building and maintaining stronger and more effective accountability and cooperation mechanisms between government and citizens planned under the Project „Transparent and accountable political practices“.

The conference has been organized to create a platform for the exchange of good practices with the Parliamentary committees, State audit institution and Parliamentary budget office; review of the mechanisms and procedures for improving mutual relations with a focus on the Protocol on cooperation between the Parliament and State audit institution, as well as for discussing possible solutions for challenges in this area.

Sessions dedicated to the presidents and secretaries of parliamentary committees were led by the State audit institution, chairman of the Committee on economy, budget and finance and of Parliamentary Budget Office of Montenegro as well as the international experts from the Scottish National audit office and Parliamentary Budget Office of Northern Macedonia and Ukraine.

The conclusions of the conference emphasize strengthening of the cooperation by holding regular control and/or consultative hearings at the parliamentary committees on the submitted audit report, as well as creating clear mechanisms and procedures for monitoring the implementation of the recommendations of the State audit institution.

Footage - Conference on cooperation between the State audit institution of Montenegro and Parliament of Montenegro (mne)

Remarks by President of the Parliament of Montenegro Aleksa Bečić (mne)

Remarks by President of the Senate of the State audit institution, PhD Milan Dabović (mne)

Remarks by British Ambassador to Montenegro, H.E. Karen Maddocks (mne)

Remarks by Director of the Western Balkans Program at the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, Mr. Emil Atanasovski (mne)

Conclusions from the Conference on Cooperation between the State Audit Institution and the Parliament of Montenegro (mne)