Montenegrin Prime Minister - designate Igor Luksic presents programme, reshuffles Cabinet
*EU membership is top priority; battle against corruption, rule of law are in focus
*Prime Minister Luksic pledges fiscal discipline, overhaul of business regulations, development in energy, tourism and transportation sectors
*EU Integration Ministry to be merged with Foreign Ministry; new Science Ministry to promote Montenegro’s research and development capabilities
*Extensive changes in government structure: Seven ministers will be replaced, number of ministries reduced.
PODGORICA (Dec. 28) – Montenegrin Prime Minister-designate Igor Luksic presented his programme to Montenegro’s Parliament, promising swift economic, legal and structural reforms that will pave the way for Montenegro to open European Union membership talks at the earliest possible date.
Mr. Luksic, 34, will be inaugurated tomorrow as Montenegro’s third prime minister since the country regained independence in 2006. In his keynote address, Mr. Luksic outlined an action plan that will build upon the successes of his predecessor, former Prime Minister Milo Djukanovic, while pursuing new initiatives aimed at enhancing rule of law and moving Montenegro into a new era of prosperity.
Key points of Prime Minister-designate Luksic’s speech:
Foreign Policy: The government’s top priorities will be integration with the EU and NATO. Cooperation with the USA, Russia and China will also be crucial. The government will focus on economic diplomacy aimed at strengthening Montenegro’s competitiveness, boosting export growth and reducing the trade deficit.
Montenegro’s EU Integration Ministry will be merged into the Foreign Ministry, which will continue to be led by Foreign Minister Milan Rocen. The new ministry will “be charged with providing continuous communication with Brussels, as well as with other departments in the government and other social entities,” Mr. Luksic said. ”I, as prime minister, have opted in this phase to personally coordinate all activities aimed at implementing obligations at the national level.”
Mr. Luksic pledged that Montenegro would continue participating in international peacekeeping missions, especially in the ISAF mission to Afghanistan and the EU operation in the territorial waters of Somalia.
Fiscal Policy: Prime Minister-designate Luksic affirmed that Montenegro would not require assistance from international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the EU as it recovers from the global financial crisis. “A sustainable and stable system in the long run may be achieved by implementing strict fiscal consolidation measures, pension reforms, business environment improvements and structural reforms, making Montenegro more competitive,” he said.
Montenegrin GDP is forecast to grow at around 2.5% in 2011 and 4% in 2012; the main task is to create conditions that will enable long-term, dynamic economic stability instead of short-term measures, he said. “The Montenegrin economy has the potential for generating long-term economic growth in the decade to come at the average of 5% annually,” Mr. Luksic said.
Mr. Luksic promised to maintain the fiscal discipline he espoused as finance minister. The budget deficit is seen at 2.6% of GDP for 2011 and the public debt is at 43% of GDP. For 2012, the Luksic administration forecasts a budget surplus and plans to decrease public debt to 41% of GDP; by 2013, the primary budget surplus should be above 3% of GDP and the public debt should fall below 38% of GDP, he said. This can be achieved, in part, by cutting state spending and improving transparency in fiscal policy, he said.
“I believe that the state can spend less, being able to provide more efficient services to both the citizens and businesses,” he said. “Fiscal and financial stability strengthening will lead to the increase in the sovereign credit rating, which in the next two years will represent a clear benchmark of our success.”
Rule of Law: “We need to create conditions for the efficient work of police, prosecutorial and judicial authorities and to establish a strong mechanism for monitoring the investigation rules, prosecution and final court decisions, at all levels,” the prime minister-designate said. “Identifying the causes of corruption and eliminating them represents a recipe for success.”
Economic Policy: The Luksic administration will place special emphasis on growth in the energy, tourism and transportation sectors, with particular attention to development in the northern part of Montenegro. “We will continue with energy efficiency promotion, becoming more dependable on the renewable energy resources,” he said.
Cabinet reshuffle: The Luksic cabinet will have 17 ministers instead of 19 – a first step toward a cheaper and smaller state bureaucracy. There will be leadership changes in seven portfolios, and the number of Deputy Prime Ministers will be reduced to two from three. The position of science minister will be added in order to improve Montenegro’s research and development capabilities.
The Luksic Cabinet
Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister DUSKO MARKOVIC (formerly minister without portfolio)
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Information Society and Telecommunications VUJICA LAZOVIC
Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Integration MILAN ROCEN
Interior Minister IVAN BRAJOVIC
Finance Minister MILORAD KATNIC (formerly deputy finance minister)
Defence Minister BORO VUCINIC
Economy Minister VLADIMIR KAVARIC (formerly President of the Council of the Insurance Supervision Agency)
Minister of Transport and Maritime Affairs ANDRIJA LOMPAR
Minister of Sustainable Development and Tourism PREDRAG SEKULIC (formerly Political Director of the governing Democratic Party of Socialists)
Agriculture Minister TARZAN MILOSEVIC
Education Minister SLAVOLJUB STIJEPOVIC
Science Minister TANJA VLAHOVIC
Labour Minister SUAD NUMANOVIC
Health Minister MIODRAG RADUNOVIC
Culture, Sport and Media Minister BRANISLAV MICUNOVIC
Human and Minority Rights Minister FERHAT DINOSA
Minister without portfolio RAFET HUSOVIC