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For more visible results of media financing from the budget

Transparency Serbia (member of Transparency International) proposes Ministry of Culture to amend the Rulebook on co-financing projects of public interest in the field of public informing and to initiate amendments to the Law on Public Information and Media, in order to increase transparency of project financing.

Recent amendments to that Rulebook abolished two obligations that are aimed to provide more insight into what resources are allocated and what results have been achieved, and what the citizens are getting as a result of the implementation of the media project. In the first case it is the obligation of the authority that allocates resources to publish on their website a brief description of the project to be financed. Apparently, reason behind this modification is not the desire to minimize transparency of data, so we hope that this failure will be quickly rectified. In this regard we have already received assurance from the State Secretary of the Ministry, that the words that have been deleted will be returned with new amendment. Justification of the Ministry for erasing obligation of publishing the reports on implemented competitions and analysis of the quality of supported projects - is not disputable. In fact, Regulation cannot impose obligations which are not prescribed by the law. Therefore, the amendment of the Rulebook, renamed the preparation of reports from the obligation to "possibility" - it is stipulated that the authority may issue a report and analysis, with the involvement of independent media experts. Transparency Serbia, however, believes that making of such a report is necessary so that the Ministry of Culture, Secretariat of the Government of Vojvodina and local self-government could determine whether the money was spent for the right purposes. Such a report would be of assistance to citizens, but also to control organs, such as the State Audit Institution, when it monitors whether the authorities are acting legally and how they take care of the entrusted money.

Bearing in mind that the implementation of many laws in Serbia showed that authorization without obligation, or liability without the fine imposed does not mean much, Transparency Serbia considers that the Ministry of Culture and Information, as authorized organ, should initiate the amendment of the Law on Public Information and Media, in order to make subsequent analysis the obligation of the authorities that co-finance the creation of media content. In addition, we believe that the opening of the procedure for amending this law should be used for resolving of other problems that have proven over the last two and a half years of implementation, concerning the allocation of funds in competitions (especially by local governments).

Transparency Serbia

Belgrade, April 25, 2017.