The Croatian government has continued to violate the principles of good conduct, transparency and responsibility towards citizens by holding increasingly frequent closed-door sessions, by failing to make public decisions on the allocation of funds from budgetary reserves, and by issuing incomplete statements and failing to make public, at least two days in advance, the agendas of its sessions, representatives of the GONG non-governmental organisation said at a news conference in Zagreb on Tuesday.
The NGO held the news conference in order to present its report on the transparency of the government’s work in 2008.
GONG president Suzana Jasic said that since GONG’s last report on the government’s transparency there had been no changes for the better.
“Government sessions continue to be frequently held behind closed doors, and there is still no information on which decisions are being made,” she said. She added that last September the government started issuing detailed statements on its closed-door sessions, but that GONG had nothing to compare those statements against. Inquiries about the topics of those sessions have remained unanswered, she said.
GONG vice-president Dragan Zelic said that in 2008 the government held 62 sessions, of which 34 were partly held behind closed doors. In addition to that, the government failed to publish the agendas and materials of 14 sessions, of which ten are believed to have been held as phone conferences, he said.
Zelic said that GONG had requested from the government copies of all items discussed at closed-door sessions, but that it had not received any answers, which prompted it to sue the government with the Administrative Court.
Speaking about the division of funds from budgetary reserves in the first half of last year, Zelic said the government had allocated HRK 50.9 million to different beneficiaries, with the finance minister approving the allocation of HRK 40,000.
Zelic said a total of HRK 180.5 million of budgetary reserves was allocated in the first half of 2008, and that the amount was allocated in a non-transparent manner, contrary to democratic practice and the government’s advocacy of cost-cutting.
GONG believes the current legislation does not guarantee the transparency of the government’s work and calls for changing the Law on the Government and its Rules of Procedure.
Closed-door sessions should be an exception, rather than the rule. Reports on the allocation of funds from budgetary reserves, information and statements on open and closed-door government sessions and those held as phone conferences should be made available on the government’s website, GONG representatives said.
Asked if GONG had been invited to take part in government projects, Jasic said they had turned down the government’s invitation to attend an event called “Anti-Corruption Fair”, because they did not believe that corruption could be fought by organising fairs.
GONG report on transparency of the government’s work in 2008 as well as other related documents can be downloaded here:(in Croatian)
|Presentation (120 KB)|
|Report (232 KB)|
|Appendix (118 KB)|
|Report on State budget reserve fund (114 KB)|