November 29, 2020 - The winter tourist season is under question due to the epidemiological situation, but experts claim the problem would not be skiing, but gatherings that usually follow this sporting activity.
Measures against the spread of coronavirus, which are prescribed by the National Coordinating Body for Infectious Diseases (NKT), such as a distance of two meters, wearing masks, and regular disinfection, are not easy to follow on ski resorts. However, according to the Institute of Public Health of Montenegro (IJZ), skiing as an individual sport is not a risk, but gatherings that usually follow, are.
"As an individual sport, skiing does not pose an epidemiological risk. Also, the equipment that is worn during skiing helps to a very great extent to prevent the transmission of the infection. What poses an epidemiological risk are gatherings after skiing in cafes and bars along the trail. Activities of this type carry significant epidemiological risk, "said the IJZ.
As for this winter tourist season, which many believe may not happen, the Institute says that this depends solely on compliance with the prescribed epidemiological measures that are currently in force throughout Montenegro.
"When it comes to the winter tourist season, IJZCG wants to believe that we all understand that the improvement of the epidemiological situation depends exclusively on respect for the adopted measures. "We have the opportunity to create conditions in which we will be able to have a good winter season by respecting the measures, but we will strictly respect all official recommendations," they said.
The director of the Ski Center "Kolašin 1600", Sasa Jeknić, says that, despite the current situation with the coronavirus, this Ski Center is ready to welcome guests.
"The opening of the winter tourist season is planned for mid-December, which depends on the snow cover and measures adopted by NKT to suppress and prevent the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic," Jeknić said in an interview with the PCNEN portal.
He adds that they operate with the belief that "the situation will significantly improve by the opening of the winter tourist season."
Source: T. Djurnic, PCNEN
November 29, 2020 - Safe travels in Montenegro has 29 companies, mostly hotels, several travel agencies, as well as the national airline Montenegro Airlines (MA) listed, while procedures for another number of entities are underway, the National Tourism Organization (NTO) announced.
The NTO told Pobjeda that the tourist industry is very interested in using the label.
The World Tourism and Travel Council (WTTC), which represents the global private travel and tourism sector, has awarded Montenegro the international Safe Travel label.
It is a specially designed label, due to the health crisis Covid-19, which allows passengers to recognize destinations and companies around the world that have adopted global standards of health and hygiene as a crucial prerequisite for safe travel.
The NTO said that, in the given circumstances, it is a necessary step for gaining the trust of tourists and the recovery and sustainable development of the sector, which is of strategic importance for the Montenegrin economy.
"It is essential for the safety protocols and measures adopted by the Institute of Public Health (IPH) in the field of tourism to be implemented, to make the stay of tourists in our country as pleasant as possible and to protect the health of all tourists," said the NTO.
NTO is the holder of the label in Montenegro. All interested participants in the tourism sector can apply for use, such as hotels, restaurants, airlines, tour operators, transport providers, airports, and others, with the obligatory condition to meet and implement the standards defined by health protocols.
"Using the Safe travels label is free. Among the current carriers are many other European countries such as Croatia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Iceland, Portugal, Turkey, Ukraine, some provinces of Austria, Russia, Spain, and Great Britain. And tourist destinations on the American, African and Asian continents, ” said NTO representatives.
"Having in mind the current health situation facing the whole world, this label can be a powerful marketing tool. For both the foreign tourism industry and tourists, safety is more important than ever, and this label indicates that the tourist entity applies hygiene and health recommendations, measures and protocols ”, explained the NTO.
The participants of the tourist economy from the coastal municipalities, Podgorica, Nikšić, Kolašin, Mojkovac, and Žabljak have shown significant interest so far.
"We hope that the number of users will grow day by day, which will show that we are responsible as a destination and that the safety of tourists and all citizens is our primary concern," said the NTO.
November 24, 2020 - Montenegro's income from foreign tourists from the beginning of the year to the end of September amounted to EUR 100 million, while in the same period last year it was EUR 978 million, according to new data from the Central Bank (CBCG) on the balance of payments with foreign countries.
Foreign income from tourism is the most relevant item in the calculation of exports of goods and services, which, according to the Monstat methodology, makes up one-third of the value of the gross domestic product (GDP), Vijesti writes.
With the drastic reduction in income from tourism, the overall decline in the economy could be close to 20 percent.
That would push the state's public debt to about 100 percent of GDP.
Exports of services for the nine months were EUR 491 million, while last year they were worth EUR 1.5 billion for the same period.
Due to vast imports of goods, Montenegro only in the third quarter - July, August, September, has positive figures in the balance of goods and services precisely because of higher income from foreign tourists.
Last year, for these three months, Montenegro exported goods in the value of EUR 120 million, and services of EUR 927 million, while at the same time the import of goods was worth EUR 690 million and services for EUR 178 million.
As a result, the total balance was positive by EUR 179 million.
In the third quarter, which carries the Montenegrin economy, exports of goods were worth 97m euros and services 201m, while imports of goods were worth 510m and services 111m euros. As a result, the total balance is now negative by EUR 323 million.
Source: Boka News
October 15, 2020 - Women in rural areas of Montenegro, who are engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry, have showed how to cope during the coronavirus pandemic, and they should be helped to promote their work. This was assessment made at a conference in Niksic's Technopolis.
The representative of the Association of Olive Growers of Boka, Vesna Djukic, said that women make a significant contribution to agricultural production, food security, land management, management of natural resources, and building climate resistance.
"Women should be helped and it should be pointed out that living and working in the countryside is not just hard agricultural work. It should also be highlighted that there is an agricultural economy where they can find their place, providing themselves with social and economic security, not to mention independence." Said Djukic at the first conference on this topic in Montenegro, organized by the Association of Olive Growers Boka, with the support of the Network for Rural Development of Montenegro.
The goal of their activities is to show women in the countryside that they are involved in many more activities than they think, as well as showing them how to get out of the crisis and continue to live and work, expand agricultural production, and with the introduction of innovations, to give themselves the best possible status.
"Our ideas and efforts in encouraging women to take action and empower themselves is not feminism. It's a model approach so that those who live in the countryside and have much less information and opportunities to learn something new can better promote their work," explained Djukic.
As she said, the daily work of women in the countryside is not visible. They are also the bearers of agricultural production, innovators, and those who first and best responded to the crisis.
"Women are a source of great energy that will preserve the village, traditions, and will give and mark life in the countryside, as well as the production of healthy food, which is increasingly in demand. A woman should also be helped to improve and increase production, "said Djukić.
She stated that it is apparent every day, and with time the situation will become more and more pronounced, that food of ever poorer quality is coming to the market and that there are fewer and fewer choices for a healthy diet.
"Our goal is to have healthy food and a healthy lifestyle, and the village is a feature of both. Women are a pillar of the family, especially those in the countryside. They need help to develop their agricultural production and enter the market in a much safer and stronger position, and be competitive with imported food that may not meet all required standards. We often do not know how this imported food is produced, yet we are forced to use it," said Djukic.
The President of the Network for Rural Development, Ratko Bataković, said that the messages from today's event in Technopolis, attended by about 20 women from rural areas from almost the whole of Montenegro, would help to spread the stories of women in rural areas and their products and services in rural tourism.
"Women are the pillar the family, especially when it comes to rural areas, and when there is no female hand, there is no survival. "Without women, our farms would be closed, and there would be no rejuvenation of the village, so it is necessary to encourage women's entrepreneurship and improve their position in rural areas," Batakovic said.
He said that they are carrying out research, which will be completed by the end of the year, as part of which they visit the villages, collect data, and that so far, they have concluded that more than 90 percent of households have a central role played by women.
"Maybe fewer than five percent of households involved in agricultural production do not include women," said Batakovic.
He illustrated the importance of a woman in the village with the example of friends from Piva, who had to sell property and cattle after the death of their mother because no one had the knowledge to continue the work.
One of the conference participants, Radmila Božović from Grbalj, who is engaged in agriculture and animal husbandry together with her family, said that every woman who meets the right conditions, especially in terms of property, should be engaged in these activities.
"We grow various vegetables and fruit, we have five cows, pigs, we are also engaged in beekeeping. My working day usually starts at six in the morning, and I do all the work slowly. I was born in the village of Babine near Jabuka, between Pljevlja and Prijepolje, where I kept cattle and milked cows, and I started cultivating the land and digging when I came to Grbalj," stated Ms. Božović.
She explained that she finished catering school, but she could not get a job and started cattle breeding.
"I first bought a cow, then rented a stall at the market in Kotor. I started planting vegetables and fruit a little later, " stated Božović.
Responding to the idea that it is unusual to be engaged in cattle breeding and agriculture on the coast, Božović said that there is a lot of land, and mechanization is widespread, but the number of women involved in Kotor is very small.
"Women who are engaged in cattle breeding and agriculture could be counted on the fingers of one hand. There are many more who resell other people's products. However, it is difficult for those who are starting from scratch, " said Božović, emphasizing that they were functioning normally even during the coronavirus epidemic.
October 11, 2020 - Breaking the deadline for completing the first section of the highway in Montenegro from Podgorica to Kolasin requires signing a new annex to the contract between the Government of Montenegro and the Chinese company CRBC (China Road and Bridge Corporation), which is the main contractor. According to the previous annex to the contract, the first section from Smokovac to Matesevo was supposed to be completed by the end of September, writes RFE.
The Ministry of Transport did not answer questions put by Radio Free Europe (RFE) as to when a new annex to the contract with the Chinese company CRBC should be signed after another deadline to complete the construction of the first section from Podgorica to Kolasin. The Chinese company also informed RFE that it will not be announced for now.
A vital feature of the Montenegrin Government's arrangement with the Chinese company is the non-transparency of contracts and loan spending, says Dejan Milovac from the MANS research center.
"Chronic non-transparency creates suspicions that we believe that an investment, now worth more than a billion, cannot pass without corruption in Montenegro. All communication between CRBC, Exim Bank (Chinese Credit Bank), and the Ministry of Transport, on the other hand, has been declared a business secret. From MANS's standpoint, it is completely unacceptable that citizens do not know how the largest loan Montenegro has taken in modern history is being spent. "After four years from the beginning of the construction, we find out, for example, that there are additional works, construction of a loop, water and electricity supply, which were not foreseen in the original contract," says Milovac.
The first section of the highway in Montenegro, which should eventually lead from the Adriatic Sea (Bar) to the Serbia (Boljare) border, was supposed to be completed in May 2019. Due to the unmet deadline, an annex to the contract was signed for a new deadline on 30 September 2020. The agreed price was initially 809 million dollars and then increased by another 90 million for the subsequent construction of access roads to Podgorica and communal infrastructure along the highway.
In addition to requests from the non-governmental sector, political parties are also seeking an analysis of previous agreements, critical parts of which have remained secret to the Montenegrin public.
In the meantime, political changes have taken place in Montenegro. If they form a new government, the business with Chinese companies will be taken over by a triple coalition that won a majority to create a new government.
The leader of the coalition "For the Future of Montenegro" and the candidate for prime minister, Zdravko Krivokapić, announced control over the contract for the highway construction and the way the Chinese loan would be spent.
A senior official of the Civic Movement URA, Miloš Konatar announced to RFE that the contract for the highway construction will no longer be secret, emphasizing that so far, citizens have paid dearly for all arrangements declared secret by the previous Government.
"Citizens have paid more than 100 million euros in quantitative terms precisely because of the inaccuracy of the contract at the beginning of the construction. Many items from the contract have been declared a state secret and are inaccessible to the public. And we must first carry out a comprehensive analysis, increase the transparency of the project to include all the intelligence we have," says Miloš Konatar, adding that the lack of transparency must change in the coming period:
"Let's see completely clearly how much the citizens of Montenegro will ultimately pay for the section of the highway and how much this project has cost us so far."
One of the biggest unknowns is whether the start of the loan payment to the Chinese Exim Bank will be postponed with the postponement of the completion of the highway's construction, i.e., whether the grace period that expires in 2021 will be extended.
Economic analyst Zarija Pejović says that Montenegro will have to refinance the loan installments, and the new Government will negotiate a possible postponement of the loan payment:
"I think that the new Government will have to negotiate as soon as possible with the representatives of CRBC. I hope that a compromise will be found on that issue."
After completing the first section, Montenegro is waiting for the construction of the second section from Mateševo to Boljari. Dejan Milovac from MANS states that the priority is to build a complete highway:
"The worst thing would be, when it comes to the new government, to suspend the project for any reason and for Montenegro to have only those 41 kilometers of highway, which in no way can justify everything that was invested in that project."
On the section from Smokovac to Mateševo (priority part of the Bar - Boljare highway), almost 93 percent of the works have been completed. At the beginning of August next year, everything could be completed, Jonuz Mujević, Executive Director of Monteput, one of the contractors, told RSE regarding the highway.
Mujevic said that they are now waiting for and answer from the chief engineer, i.e., the supervisory body, to respond to the request of CRBC, the main contractor, regarding the extension of the deadline.
"When we get the view of the chief engineer towards the investor, we will know what steps should be taken. The new annex to the contract on design and construction will be signed after the decision of the supervisory body, which will specify the new deadline for completion of works, considering that the existing deadline has been breached," says Mujevic, adding that the works are progressing at a "specific" pace.
"We are both satisfied and dissatisfied with that dynamic, but it work is being done. "Since the arrival of Chinese workers, the work has intensified, and if it continues like this, we will have a positive outcome," Mujevic points out.
He also states that the pandemic contributed the most to the extension of the deadline for completing the first section of the highway because a large number of Chinese workers, who use their regular vacation around the New Year, could not return to work.
"Therefore, from February to June, we had almost no workers on individual sections of the road (sections three and four). Work re-started in June, and we are satisfied with the current dynamic," says Mujević.
According to him, that section will be completed because the funds have been provided. Asked when the work can be expected to end, he replied:
"My opinion is that it will be at the beginning of August next year."
According to the CRBC, about 1,000 workers are working on the construction of the highway, of which 379 are Chinese citizens, and the rest are domestic workers, employees of subcontractors.
Asked several times whether there is a possibility of Montenegro falling into debt bondage due to the already high public debt, which amounts to 78% of GDP, Montenegrin officials have repeatedly denied this possibility.
July 25, 2020 - The purchase of apartments in a condo hotel or a hotel that is on a mixed business model, listed among development projects, is counted as an investment for which a Montenegrin passport can be obtained based on the Government's program of economic citizenship.
The information was confirmed to "Vijesti" by the Montenegrin Investment Promotion Agency (MIPA), which submitted information that the list of development projects in the field of tourism currently includes seven hotels given the green light for construction by the Government. Of these, four are based on the condo business principle, and three on the mixed business model.
According to the condo principle, four hotels will be built in Kolašin, namely "Kolašin Resort & Spa," "Breza," "Bjelasica 1450 Kolašin," and "K16." According to the mixed business model, "Boka Place" will be built in Tivat, "Kraljičina Plaža" in Miločer and "Durmitor Hotel and Villas" in Žabljak.
"Montenegrin citizenship can be acquired by investing in a development project in tourism, which includes the construction of a hotel / mixed complex, and thus the creation of a hotel according to the condo business model.
The applicant for citizenship individually decides on which of the tourism developments projects he will invest in," MIPA stated in an official communication.
According to the Tourism Act, the difference between a condo and a mixed hotel is that apartment owners in a condo-hotel must make them available to the hotel for ten months a year. In the combined business model, renting is voluntary.
The company "Adriatic Marinas" from Tivat has already offered real estate from the tourist complex "Boka Place," a new part of the luxury nautical-tourist resort Porto Montenegro. However, construction will begin only at the end of the year, as reported by world media.
According to the Government's decision, a Montenegrin passport can be obtained through investments in tourism projects, processing industry, and agriculture. So far, no plan has been reported for investment in the processing and agricultural sectors.
The three-year program for acquiring Montenegrin citizenship through investments started on January 1, 2019, and up to 2,000 passports can be awarded.
The MIPA explained that, according to the decision on acquiring economic citizenship (Article 11), the development project in tourism implies the construction of a hotel/mixed complex in the coastal region and Podgorica with a minimum of five stars, at least 60 accommodation units, a minimum investment of 15 million euros and minimum 80 new employees.
"For the northern and central region (except Podgorica) with a minimum of four stars, at least 35 accommodation units, a minimum investment of 5 million and a minimum of 25 new employees," the MIPA recalled.
The applicant can acquire citizenship if he has deposited 100,000 euros in an escrow account for the development of less developed municipalities, for the Law on Regional Development.
He may also acquire citizenship if he has paid at least EUR 450,000 into the account to invest in one of the development projects in Podgorica or the coastal region, or the amount of at least EUR 250,000 to invest in one of the development projects in the northern or central area of Montenegro.
A foreigner can apply for Montenegrin citizenship provided that they do not have a criminal conviction in Montenegro or any other country, and after an international eligibility assessment agent has given a positive opinion, including providing proof of origin of money intended for payment and investment following a Government decision.
The state has earned three million euros from the sale of passports within the economic citizenship project. In the budget, 15 million from the sale of passports were projected this year, and that budget item is zero after the rebalance.
The Agency could not say which investment the first passport was awarded within the project of economic citizenship.
"Issuance of the decision for admission and issuance of the passport upon admission to citizenship is the responsibility of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Montenegro," the MIA replied.
As part of the economic citizenship project, the Ministry of the Interior issued 12 passports to foreign citizens, but their names remain undisclosed. In response to the question by "Vijesti" as to who had received citizenship, the department referred to the Law on Citizenship, which specifies to whom the Ministry of the Interior can provide information.
A Russian citizen obtained the first passport, officially confirmed by Henley & Partners, one of the three licensed agents for mediation in this project.
Deputy Prime Minister Milutin Simovic told parliament on Wednesday that he could not give names, citing the Law on Personal Data Protection. This was an assurance that had been given when the project was presented.
"These are families who have private business with proven credibility, proven origin of their investment money, and confirmation that they are not involved in activities related to terrorism," claims Simović.
Text by Marija Mirjačić
June 15, 2020 - State guarantees of up to at least 70% of the amount of the loan for legal entities which were forbidden to work in accordance with temporary measures for the suppression of coronavirus or which had their volume of activities significantly reduced, extension of moratorium, delay of the repayment of the due tax duties- are just some of the measures proposed by the Montenegrin Employers’ Union, as part of the third Government’s package of measures.
In order to help Montenegrin recovery to recover, Employers’ Union of Montenegro has prepared Innovated (third) proposal for measures to support economy.
ECB, IMF and EIB have officially announced increase in the funds aimed at helping WB countries, creating conditions for more favorable credit funds.
“In accordance with that, it is necessary to provide state guarantees of up to at least 70% of the amount of loan for legal entities which were forbidden to work in accordance with temporary measures for the suppression of coronavirus or which had their volume of activities significantly reduced, which would create conditions for the IMF and commercial banks to provide more favorable credit lines”, Union said.
They think that Government and Central Bank guarantees should be earmarked proportionally to the market share of every individual bank in Montenegro, provided that guarantees do not amount to more than 40% of the overall placement of the bank.
Montenegrin employers hold that it is necessary to carry out analysis of the situation and possible scenarios with the aim of earmarking support funds proportionally.
In addition, Investment and Development Fund and commercial banks should enable extension of moratorium on the repayment of loans for legal entities until their business operations are back to normality.
Montenegrin employers state that it is necessary to extend deadlines for the repayment of due tax liabilities on the grounds of all types of taxes with the possibility of repayment in 24 installments.
“Legal entities should be exempt from paying local public utility taxes, fees for use of the road as access to commercial facilities for 2020, paying real estate tax…”, employers say.
They add it is necessary to revise prices of public utility services depending on whether they worked during the epidemic or not.
They point out it is necessary to exempt legal entities from tourism and hospitality sector from paying fees for the use of temporary facilities in the coastal zone and national parks.
Montenegrin employers stress it is necessary to enable deferred payment of customs and VAT for 90 days and in cycles until economic and money flaws become smooth again.
Employers say that it is necessary to adopt special law to regulate work and legal relations in emergency circumstances, or introduce urgent amendments to the Law on Labor and harmonize its provisions with the emergency needs.
It is necessary to reconsider labor costs and reduce specific items related to the salary costs.
“Entrepreneurs and companies that were forbidden to perform their activities should be entitled to a subsidy in the amount of 100% of minimum net salary during six months and 50% of the minimum net salary for vulnerable sectors, as well as deferred payment of taxes and contributions for all those subjects”, Union says.
Montenegrin employers request introduction of lower VAT rate – 7% on the accommodation services and accommodation services with services of food and non-carbonated and non-alcoholic beverage in hotels and facilities with similar purpose; increase of the generated turnover as prerequisite for mandatory VAT registration from €18.000 to €30.000.
“Entrepreneurs and micro companies would feel most benefit from this increase. The day they enter VAT system, their goods and services are by 21% more expensive, they enter a very demanding and uncertain race with major legal companies and most of them soon become illiquid”, employers say.
Employers call on all competent authorities to commit fully to taking measures and activities to combat grey economy.
“The scale of this negative trend is at alarmingly high level, and according to the official data, this phenomenon is on an upward trajectory”, they warn.