Rows of ruling majority suspend Montenegrin budget
The Montenegrin government on Thursday urged ruling majority MPs to adopt this year’s budget, warning that the public administration is already facing financial problems.
Budget legislation was sent to parliament on March 31, but the vote was suspended as the largest ruling majority bloc, For the Future of Montenegro, called on Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapic for negotiations on rebuilding the government.
Interior Minister Sergej Sekulovic said his ministry and the Police Directorate were already facing financial problems.
“Because the parliament did not adopt the Montenegrin state budget, the police already find themselves without 130 cars which were rented in 2018. In this situation, it is really difficult to maintain regular police activities,” said Sekulovic said in a press release Thursday.
On March 31, the government proposed a budget of 2.4 billion euros, 4.9% less than last year’s budget.
But on May 20, the Democratic Front, part of the ruling For the Future of Montenegro bloc, called for negotiations on a government reshuffle and urged Krivokapic to include the leaders of the ruling majority parties in its cabinet. .
This is not the first time that Montenegro’s coalition government has faced internal problems. The Democratic Front has previously criticized Krivokapic for poor cooperation with the ruling majority parties when appointing police officials.
On May 31, the Democratic Front also accused Krivokapic of avoiding signing an agreement with the Serbian Orthodox Church, warning that it no longer had the confidence of their coalition. Krivokapic accused the Democratic Front of undermining his government.
Montenegro is ruled by a so-called government of experts that came to power in December 2020 after the summer elections.
In December, Montenegro’s Ministry of Finance injected temporary funding for the first five months of 2021 because a budget had not been adopted in 2020 due to the change of government.
The new budget was to be adopted before the end of May. But on Wednesday, one of the leaders of the Democratic Front, Nebojsa Medojevic, said the prime minister will first have to meet with the leaders of the ruling majority.
“Before the budget vote, we must sign a new coalition agreement, elect a new government and a new prime minister. If that doesn’t happen, the only solution is new elections, ”Medojevic said at a press conference.
Goran Kapor, journalist for the Montenegrin daily Vijesti, said that the postponement of the adoption of the budget has already had a negative impact on public finances.
“Since they are funded on a temporary basis, ministries have to spend less, so for almost six months, public institutions had to operate at significantly reduced costs. Due to lack of budget, the interior ministry cannot pay for police cars, while the agriculture ministry cannot help farmers and cattle ranchers, ”Kapor told BIRN.
“This political crisis must end because it is already causing serious problems for the public administration and the economy of the country,” he added.
The budget was supposed to come into effect on June 1, but since it was not adopted, the government will have to draft an amendment and set a new deadline.