05 March 2019 - Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice Zoran Pažin met today in London with British Minister of State for Europe and the Americas Alan Duncan. Montenegro and the United Kingdom are resolved to steadfastly oppose organised crime and serious criminal offenses through closer cooperation, it was noted at the meeting.
The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister Duncan signed a bilateral agreement, complementing the European Convention on Extradition and facilitating its application.
The main novelty of this agreement is that Montenegro and the United Kingdom express their readiness to extradite their own citizens to one another if one country seeks them for serious crimes for which a prison sentence of five or more years has been foreseen.
"This agreement unambiguously indicates that there is a high degree of mutual respect and trust between Montenegro and the United Kingdom, with the conviction that the legal systems of both states will guarantee the right to a fair trial of every person who is extradited, respecting the presumption of innocence," DPM Pažin emphasised.
The agreement states that the parties are "aware of the guarantee of the right to a fair trial of the accused within their legal systems, including the right to trial before an impartial tribunal established by law".
DPM Pažin signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Minister Duncan and Financial Secretary to the Treasury Mel Stride to further deepen cooperation in the area of security, the rule of law and the joint fight against organised crime, especially against various types of financial crime.
05 March - The Prime Minister recently hosted a meeting of business people sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce in Montenegro. Speaking about the fight against the gray economy, the Prime Minister said that a thriving economic and financial policy came as a result of increased work of inspection services despite the lack of capacity.
"For that reason, I personally undertook coordination with the inspection services in combating the gray economy and the informal market. This gives results not only in numbers and indicators, but also in the creation of a new, motivational environment, where professionalism comes to the fore and where people understand how important it is for the future of Montenegro and its citizens," the Prime Minister underscored.
He also said that inspectors prefer to control companies that are doing business properly, saying that the focus must be placed on those who are doing business illegally.
"It is a process. I think we have made a decisive step forward, we can no longer go back, we can only move forward," the Prime Minister stated.
As to the tax policy and labour policy plans, the Government is reviewing complaints made by social partners with extreme sensitivity, PM Marković noted.
He also said that the Government is considering reducing or even abolishing the profit tax rate for those companies that reinvest their profits.
"We are considering reducing the tax burden on labour. I think that we will come out very quickly with a concrete proposal. We are discussing it with our social partners. ... I believe that there will be an increase in the minimum wage, but also a reduction in the tax burden on labour that will relax employers, and increase the standard and salaries of employees," concluded Prime Minister Duško Marković.
February 5, 2019 - The municipality of Tivat Manager, Marko Petricevic confirmed that investors are interested in investing in the tourist complex Sveti Marko, which the company "Metropol" of the Russian oligarch Mihail Slipenčuk brought ten years ago.
04 March 2019 - "The Montenegrin economy has grown at a rate of above 4.5% in two previous years. We do not have the final data yet because we are still waiting for information for the 4th quarter of 2018, but in 2017, the growth rate was 4.7%. in the first nine months of 2019, the economy grew by 4.9%, with the third quarter's growth of 5%, which was the third growth rate in Europe. Therefore, Montenegro, a small economy with so many challenges, achieved economic growth which is among the largest ones in Europe in these two years," the Prime Minister stressed answering questions at a meeting with business people sponsored by the American Chamber of Commerce in Montenegro.
The Prime Minister said that public finances were significantly improved. This is illustrated by the fact that in the first two months of this year, the revenue side was higher by 6% or 12.9 million EUR. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister said, he is most pleased with the growth of employment because almost 11,000 new jobs have been created over the past two years.
"I am looking forward to this information. On 20 February 2017, we had 52 thousand unemployed. On 26 February 2018, we had 47,593 unemployed, according to the Employment Bureau of Montenegro. And on 25 February 2019, we have 38,535 unemployed people," he underscored at American Chamber of Commerce in Montenegro meeting.
He added that in February 2017, the unemployment rate was 22.46%, and on 20 February 2019, it was 16.61%.
Prime Minister Marković concluded his presentation of Montenegro's economic activity with data on growth in tourism - 30% more tourists than in the same period last year, while financial revenues increased by 43%.
"The goal is to maintain this pace of development, attract new investments, create new jobs, reduce the unemployment rate and, of course, achieve a higher standard of living," the Prime Minister underscored.
The Ministry of Transport and Maritime Affairs is trying to resolve the property issues related to the land of Tivat Airport by administrative methods and without compensation to the owners.
The department led by the Minister Osman Nurkovic is carrying out this quickly, trying to eliminate one of the remarks of the government's intention to give the airports to concession - unresolved ownership issues about the real estate.
Also, according to the unofficial information, the Ministry received such an order from Prime Minister Dusko Markovic - to resolve the controversial property issues before the Government even considers the concession act.
The data of the cadaster show that in the previous two months, all burden registered in the property list of Tivat Airport were erased, resulted by numerous court proceedings initiated by private owners against the state, demanding legal compensation for assets that were taken away from them in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
"We've done a lot of work. Unfortunately, this was supposed to be done by ACG management, as well as many other things because they had about 25 million euros in the account, "said the Minister of Transport Osman Nurkovic (BS) on February 3rd on RTCG.
He and his associates, even after more than 15 days, did not answer the questions about the removal of the burden from the land with 544,601 square meters in KO Mrcevac in Tivat. That's all the land and facilities of Tivat airport. According to the records of the Real Estate Directorate, this was done by the "final decision of the Basic Court in Kotor, whose spokesperson, Spiro Pavicevic, explained:" We are informing you that the court ruled that the lawsuit was withdrawn and that the decision was final on 22.11.2013.”
However, from MSP to this day, they did not explain why the burden from the cadastral register was erased five years after the court made the decision. The Municipality of Tivat said that "erasing the record of court litigations in the jurisdiction of the cadaster". The Law on State Survey and Real Estate Cadaster stipulate that the recording of the dispute shall be deleted ex officio by the expiration of a period of 10 years from the date of the registration, so the interlocutor from the Municipality does not exclude the possibility that this was done ex officio.
For one year and a half there are discussions in public related to the concession, but also among the ruling coalition partners - DPS, BS and the Social Democrats whose staff is managing ACG. Giving the airports in Tivat and Podgorica for long-term lease was announced in May 2017 by the Prime Minister Dusko Markovic (DPS), who defined the current situation at the airports "shameless" and said that through the concession, they can be valorized" in the fastest and most efficient way and lead to a standard adequate to the intention of Montenegro to become a regional touristic leader.
DPS supported by BS, whose line minister and staff claim that ACG does not manage well the airports, stated that this company is an example of nepotism and employment through the political party SD and that Montenegro "does not have the knowledge or money" to adequately lead and develops the airports.
SD, however, rejects the claims, stating that ACG is the most successful state-owned company operating with the profit, although it practically carries along a continuing loser – the national aircraft Montenegro Airlines. They state that ACG can develop the airports from profits and favourable loans offered by the EBRD.
The opposition shares such views, but also a part of the expert economic public in Montenegro and the region that warn the Montenegrin Government "not make sudden decisions", but to be very cautious, because the concession arrangements in the area have not given good results, and that behind private companies that lease the airports there are actually companies of powerful Western countries.
They do not have the interest to develop the company and worry about its contribution to tourism, said Alen Sucuric, a civil aviation analyst from Zagreb, and the owner of the company that deals with this kind of business. He illustrates this with statistical data:
"ACGs are extremely successful. In the context of the size of Montenegro and the environment, ACG is the most successful airport operator in the region and have a great future because they can develop themselves. They are extremely important for Montenegro, which is a remarkable airline destination and for whose tourist economy the airline availability is conditio sina qua non," says the interlocutor.
The interlocutor states that "the concessionaire is a huge danger because he wants profit". "He is not concerned about the interest of a domicile state or city, a strategy for the development of air transport or the overall economy. He does not care whether Montenegro will be connected, whether the number of tourists will be reduced, will it cause a chain reaction of negative effects on the entire economy. He is only interested in huge profits. He will not work with a positive zero. That is precisely why all concessionaire firstly increase fees for 100% or more, start charging a series of services to users who were free of charge until then, the incentive strategy is only in the role of higher income, and not the importance of covering flights outside the season or individual for the country of important destinations and tourist markets," Scuric warns and recommends the government in Podgorica to ask "themselves why the Western countries do not give their airports to concessions, only the Eastern ones. "
So far, the government has not given up on its intention to conclude a concession act, but due to the disagreement with SD, a modified and to some extent agreed concession act and contract, have not yet been found at the Government session.
Minister Osman Nurkovic has been repeating since mid-January that this will happen "as early as this Thursday" (the days of the government sessions). Critics of this arrangement stated that it does not meet the basic requirements under the Law on Concession, which stipulates that the contract must be bilaterally, and not trilateral as planned by MSP, introducing space for "sponsors" into the contract. It was also stated that the valuation of the property has not been carried out, but also of the business itself that the state wants to give in the concession, and that property issues have not been solved, primarily in Tivat.
Despite the deletion of the burden from part of the land of Tivat Airport, several court proceedings initiated by private owners are still ongoing.
One citizen from Krtoli, who has been in conflict with the state for years over his family's property, seized by the state without compensation, says that now they are offered twice as much as a couple of years ago - 37 cents, but that the experts during the court proceedings for such plot, next to the runway, estimated it on 109 euros.
The same amount, the interlocutor says, a few years ago the state paid to the locals whose land had been expropriated to extend the nearby Kotor crossroad.
The Ministry did not want to comment on the difference between the expert's assessment and the state's offer. It was not answered in which way and from what funds the state intends to reimburse the owners of the land it wants to give in the concession.
According to unofficial information, Nurkovic assessed the informal talks with coalition partners that this will cost the state up to 9 million euros. In the cadaster, the government still has in the registration the burden of restitution on the largest, cadastral plot of 291,848 square meters.
Tivat municipality, which is ruled by DPS-SD-HGI coalition, previously in 2017 immediately after Prime Minister Markovic announced concessions, remained without one million square meters - its 486 thousand at the airport and another 44,700 square meters on which the municipality was co-owner with individuals. All of this was registered to the state, and the local administration of Tivat, in the meantime, did nothing to try to protect its property worth tens of millions of euros.
In the meantime, the problem was further complicated because the local administration of Tivat, according to the cadastral records, remained in the past two months without further assets - over 118,000 square meters of land, which "leans" on the fence of the current airport complex and which, according to the State study of the location of Tivat Airport, was intended for further expansion of the airport's capacity. Municipal six plots with the total area of 118,200 square meters from LN 152 KO Mrcevac were registered to the state as the owner, and the Municipality remained entitled to dispose of that property.
The heads of the Real Estate Directorate, government and local DPS officials claimed that this was legalindeed because according to the Law on State Property, the airports could be only state-owned. Although the cadaster leaders then explained that the Municipality had allegedly never been registered as the owner, this was denied by a document issued 19 years ago by the same directorate. In response to the question by delegate Petar Samardzic (SNP) on April 20th, 2000, the then head of the Department for Cadaster of the Real Estate Directorate, Vladimir Grgurovic, said that the Municipality owned over a million square meters in this part of the country, which includes the airport with its surrounded area.
Concessions are harmful if it is a case of strategically important airports, which airports of the capital cities, but also of large tourist resorts certainly are.
Concessions make sense in smaller airports and those that cannot be profitable, so large systems manage to make such unprofitable ports positive, by the synergy in the system of several airports, as well as by rationalizing the operations resulting from shared services and more cost-effective business based on large orders and numbers.
In Montenegro, this is not the case and it must be done very carefully, "assesses Alen Scurica, who is currently the greatest expert in the region for the analysis of profits in the civil aviation industry.
He states that ACG is a very successful company, which by many parameters is the leading operator among airport operators in the former Yugoslavia. In Tivat and Podgorica, as many as 43 carriers landed last year, and ACG had 100 flights a week to the countries in Europe and the Middle East. It is the same number of airlines and a slightly smaller number of weekly lines than at a much larger and tourist busy airport in Dubrovnik. And the other airports in the surrounding area have very low figures, he said. Thus, Tirana had 28 carriers and 79 lines, Skopje 19 carriers and 47 lines, Pristina -14 companies and 46 airlines.
Montenegrin airports have 12 companies that fly for them all year round while Dubrovnik has only 5, and they have an almost ideal - almost equal share in the total traffic between the so-called legacy, leisure and low-cost companies.
Montenegrin airports, according to the analysis by Scuric, also have some of the highest growth rates in the region and predominate in the number of newly opened lines. Thus, for the last two years, as many as 30 have been opened, while at the same time much bigger Serbia has managed to open only seven new lines.
Montenegro with ACG traffic of 2.2 million passengers and a visit of about 2 million tourists has the best ratio of 1:1 when looking at passengers and tourists, better even than the regional tourist superpower such as Croatia where it is 1:2.
According to the number of passengers at the airports compared to the number of inhabitants, Montenegro with a coefficient of 3.7 is by far the most successful in the region of the former Yugoslavia.
The text was downloaded from the Professional Journalist Association website /dpncg.me/
Text by Sinisa Lukovic, on February 23rd 2019, read more at Vijesti
02 March 2019 - As previously reported by TMN, Sociate Generale Group has signed an agreement for the sale of a stake in its Montenegrin subsidiary to Crnogorska komercijalna banka (CKB), i.e. OTP Group, subject to receipt of clearances from the relevant banking, antitrust and market authorities.
After submission of a request for an acquisition agreement by Crnogorska komercijalna banka (CKB) and Societe Generale bank Montenegro, the Central Bank (CBCG) will collect all relevant information and decide if the conditions have been met to approve this process.
“In compliance with its competencies, the CBCG will collect all relevant information in a formal decision making procedure, on the basis of which it will decide if the required conditions have been met for the approval of this merger, and what will be the impact of that transaction on the rest of the banking market,” the CBCG says in a press release.
The press release says that Chief Executive Officer of CKB informed the CBCG in mid-February about the plans of this financial company to acquire a 90.56 percent stake in Societe Generale banka Montenegro.
“However, the CBCG has not been informed about the concrete elements of the acquisition agreement concluded between these two companies,” the press release says.
Crnogorska komercijalna banka (CKB), the Montenegrin subsidiary of OTP Bank has signed an acquisition agreement on purchasing a 90.56 percent stake in Societe Generale banka Montenegro for €40.46 million.
The press release also says that Societe Generale banka Montenegro will continue to provide high-quality service to its retail and corporate clients, while preparing a smooth transition for its clients, ensuring the stability in their relations with the bank.
“Societe Generale Montenegro will be part of the cooperation agreement signed between Societe Generale and OTP Bank that encompass the provision of mutual services in various fields, including, but not limited to investment banking, capital markets, financing cash and liquidity management,” the bank says.
Source: MINA News Agency
28 February 2019 - "Investing in the stability and prosperity of the region is actually an investment in the security and the future of the European Union, i.e. the whole of Europe. Close cooperation is a common interest, because only in this way can we provide citizens with economic and social development and security," Chief Negotiator Aleksandar Drljević said in Budapest on the topic of European Union integration.
The Chief Negotiator for EU of Montenegro participated in the Third Western Balkans Conference "Integration through Business", organised by the Konrad Adenauer Foundation and the Institute for Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The region, Drljević said, does not want to remain on the margins of Europe, continuously proving that as a partner it can give a significant contribution to the stability and security of the continent through a joint struggle with the challenges of modern times, such as migrant pressures and security threats.
Speaking at the panel "Connecting the EU and the Western Balkans - the Berlin Process and beyond", the Chief Negotiator pointed out that Montenegro continues to take steps to develop national transport and energy infrastructure and promote closer economic cooperation at the regional level, noting that well-developed and interconnected infrastructure is the driver of economic growth and opportunities for new jobs by attracting foreign investment.
The conference was opened by Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary Péter Szijjártó, who said that the EU's strategic interest was to integrate the Western Balkans, stressing that this is important because of economic and security aspects. In this regard, he expressed the expectation that the enlargement policy will remain high on the EU agenda after the elections for the European Parliament and the formation of a new European Commission.
"Hungary is committed to speeding up the enlargement process. Our interest is stronger EU, and this is possible only through the integration of the Western Balkan countries," Minister Szijjártó said.
He added that the integration of the Western Balkan countries can contribute to the EU's competitiveness and said that Hungary will continue to invest in the region, which is Hungary's significant trade partner.
The conference was attended by decision-makers, experts and representatives of the business community, who exchanged views on the business environment and development concepts of the Western Balkans, as well as the ways in which the European Union, Germany and Hungary can contribute to the economic development of the Region.
It was pointed out that economic development plays an important role in the EU accession process, and that, despite its achievements, faster and stronger development of the region is needed in order to improve living standards in the Western Balkans. In this context, the support of Hungary and Germany to the economic development of the region was expressed.
Montenegrin Commercial Bank (CKB), the Montenegrin branch of OTP bank, has signed a contract for the purchase of 90.56 percent of the share capital of Société General Bank Montenegro for 40.46 million euros. "The agreed price for the purchase of 90.56 percent of the share capital of the Montenegrin subsidiary of the Société General Group amounts to EUR 40.46 million. The purchase price per share amounts to EUR 461.81," as stated by the OTP Bank.
With a market share of 11.5%, Société General Bank Montenegro is the fourth largest bank in the Montenegrin market and as a universal bank is equally active in the segment of citizens and enterprises.
"The realization of a financial transaction is expected in the coming months, depending on the required regulatory approval," the statement said.
Société General: Agreement subject to the approval of the competent banking, antimonopoly and market regulators
Société General Group signed a contract on the sale of shares of Montenegrin branch to the Montenegrin Commercial Bank (CKB), i.e. the OTP group, conditioned by the approval of the competent banking, antimonopoly and market regulators.
Société General Bank of Montenegro has announced that the closing of the transaction should take place in the coming months. "In the coming months, Société General Group and OTP Group will work together to provide the necessary approvals," the statement said.
Société General Bank Montenegro will continue to service the population and corporate clients with a high level of quality and commitment while preparing a smooth transition for clients while ensuring the stability of their relationship with the bank.
"Société General Bank Montenegro will be part of the cooperation agreement signed between Société General and OTP bank, which includes the provision of mutual services in different areas, including but not limited to investment banking, capital markets, cash and liquidity financing," as explained from the bank.
The bank concluded that Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Hungary, Moldova, and Serbia would soon join the agreement on these services.
Text by MINA Business, on February 28th, 2019, read more at Vijesti
27 February 2019 - On February 27, Montenegrin Prime Minister Duško Marković opened a new factory of carbonated water “Rada“ in Bijelo Polje. On that occasion, the PM said that this is a factory that will contribute to the growth of the economy and production and that will substitute the import of carbonated water amounting to nearly 8 million EUR. He added that the saved money will remain in the country's economic system and contribute to the development of a better standard and that the Government is showing that it opens new, high-quality and sustainable jobs and makes the best use of the vast natural potentials.
"A little over two years ago, I promised workers that we will find ways to compensate for the unpaid salaries, to link years of service and to provide severance payments. Also, I promised that the State will do everything to find an investor and start production. I felt then that they did not believe me; not even the citizens of Bijelo Polje. This Government ceded its claim of 280.000 EUR to pay salaries and severance payments to workers, while also securing 576.000 EUR to link years of service for the former employees to Bjelasica Rada," the Prime Minister said. He added that the entire project was supported by the Water Group Company from Kolašin, not only in terms of the money they invested but also in terms of their motivation, enthusiasm, capability, and know-how.
"Guided by this, they have built this factory, launched products based on state-of-the-art equipment and technology. I want to thank them and congratulate them. The new factory which is in front of us will contribute to the growth of our economy. With this production, we substitute imports of carbonated water amounting to nearly 8 million EUR, and that money remains in our economic system and contributes to the development and a better living standard," the Prime Minister of Montenegro Duško Marković explained.
Marković also pointed out that over the past two years, the Government has shown that it can reach and exceed the expected rates of economic growth, even to the most persistent critics.
The opening ceremony was attended by Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Policy and Financial System and Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Milutin Simović, Minister of the Interior Mevludin Nuhodžić, Bijelo Polje Municipality President Petar Smolović and President of the Chamber of Economy of Montenegro Vlastimir Golubović.
The former Bjelo Polje giant - Rada, whose reputation of quality transcended the borders of Montenegro, returns to the domestic market with old quality, but a new visual identity. Four million euros were invested in the reconstruction of the factory and the associated infrastructure.
27 February 2019 - The Luštica Bay project was named the Best European Property Development at the grand ceremony of the Luxury Network International Awards in Dubai.
On Saturday, February 23rd, Caesars Palace on Bluewaters Island, Dubai, opened its doors to over 400 guests of the 2019 Luxury Network International Awards Gala. As reported by the USA News 24/7, on a red carpet flanked by three pristine Rolls Royce vehicles, attendees were greeted by H.E. Mr. Fares Ghattas, Global Ceo of The Luxury Network, and Mrs. Amal Shouman Solaiman, president of Cael. The occasion brought together over 50 luxury brands from over 15 countries representing Europe, CIS, Middle East, Africa, Asia, and the United States, and the Gala was attended by representatives from luxury brands, humanitarian organizations, diplomatic missions, and international branches of The Luxury Network.
Luxury Network, the world’s leading luxury affinity marketing group with 12 years of experience in the international market, presented to innovators in several categories of the luxury sector, as well as humanitarian personalities and successful business leaders. On this occasion, the “Best European Property Development” award was granted to the Luštica Bay project.
Marketing manager of Luštica Development, Slavica Milić, said that this award is extremely important for the whole Luštica Development team, as it honours the company as one of the most respected businesses worldwide. "The prestigious award was granted to us at the moment when we participate in a joint presentation of the project with the company Investor Media in Dubai and the famous nautical fair, the Dubai Boat Show, which is held until March 2. This is a very significant recognition for us at the moment when interest in Luštica Bay, as an open year-round destination, is experiencing an expansion," Milić explained in a recent statement.
"The Luštica Development Company is developing the Luštica Bay project as a residential tourist destination with two marinas, seven hotels, a variety of real estate offerings, a professional golf course, a town centre and other amenities essential to the life of the city, at about seven million square meters in Tivat area of Luštica peninsula," Milić added.
In 2018, Luštica Development opened a marina with 176 berths, the first luxurious hotel - Chedi, and a marina settlement with about 220 residences.
For a full list of all the winners at the prestigious awards, here is a report by the Arabian Gazette.
February 27, 2019 - The delegation of the German shipping company Al Group, made up of executive director Ulrich Paulsdorf, seamanship manager Rita Vella-Menzel, fleet manager Tonći Zdunjić and operator of seafarer hiring Kolja Funk, is staying in a two-day working visit to Montenegro.