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Ivan Radulović, MFIC Executive Director

Close Cooperation Leads to Better Achievements

Timely public-private dialogue is of crucial importance to the further improvement of cooperation between the private and public sectors. The MFIC will continue to nurture good and productive cooperation with the Government of Montenegro and to provide further support to the reform process

The MFIC – an association of leading foreign investors in the country – was established in 2009 by five companies, while today we have 40 members. The Council gathers together representatives of numerous and varied industries – banking and financial services, telecommunications, metallurgy and mining, energy, tourism and hospitality, real estate, the petroleum industry, port services, legal services, the FMCG sector, logistics, manufacturing, transportation, auditing and ICT. We spoke with MFIC Executive Director Ivan Radulović about the development plans of the Association.

Considering the increase in the number of MFIC members and the sectors from which they hail, have you considered establishing new committees?

– Taking into account expansion of the Council, besides two committees that are already operational – ICT Committee (since 2014) and Banking Committee (since 2017) – we have plans to establish two more committees – the Regulatory Policy Committee, tasked with reviewing and comment on existing regulation, as well as regulation going through the public consultation process that might cause potential obstacles to doing business and to provide support to the government in designing and delivering an effective, efficient and business-friendly regulatory framework – and the Committee for Combatting the Grey Economy – aimed at contributing to further reducing the grey economy by working closely with our counterparts in government through the implementation of activities envisaged by the Montenegrin Government’s Commission for Combatting the Grey Economy.

The 9th edition of the White Book also brought new topics that were addressed. In which way are members involved in the compiling of this publication?

– The White Book is a key document produced by the Council, in which foreign investors assess the business environment on the basis of their personal perception and highlight the challenges they face in Montenegro.

Ivan RadulovićThe ninth edition of White Book, in addition to the areas/sectors that are analysed each year, also analysed and presented the fiscal obligations of local self-governments, especially those present in legislation impacting on investors at the local level – Law on Municipal Charges, Law on Administrative Charges, Law on Roads, Law on Spatial Planning and Construction and Law on Tourist Organisations. We believe there is a lot of room to improve and increase transparency in terms of fiscal burdens at the local level and in the work of local self-governments. A large number of various fiscal burdens – imposed as taxes, surtaxes, fees and charges – make it difficult for foreign investors to predict the costs of investments.

Our members participate by responding to a questionnaire, and on the basis of their ratings, we initially calculate the overall MFIC Index – as an evaluation of the ease and effectiveness of doing business in Montenegro, based on their experience. Our members also rate the industry in which they operate, as well as individual areas that we have identified as being the most important to influencing the attractiveness of a business environment.

A very important part of the White book is the evaluation of the regulatory environment in Montenegro, which is conducted in such a way that MFIC members state observations, make comments and propose suggestions regarding specific issues that can be further improved to better accommodate the needs of business and economic development.

How important is the White Book as a tool in advocating for the changes you propose?

– Through active participation in the Competitiveness Council led by the Prime Minister, which represents the Government’s main body for dealing with the business environment, we are involved directly in the decision-making process.

After being presented publicly, the White Book is submitted for the next session of the Competitiveness Council, where members of the Council have the chance to familiarise themselves with the edition and discuss its findings and recommendations. Following discussions, the Ministry of Finance and the Competitiveness Council Secretariat, in cooperation with ministries, are obliged to prepare responses to the recommendations given in the White Book and to inform the MFIC on which recommendations have been accepted and will be implemented.

Our members propose regulatory changes in order to eliminate business barriers and bring regulations in line with modern international standards and best practises

We are also satisfied with the fact that the consideration and implementation of measures and recommendations given by our members via the White Book continue increasing constantly.

Given that you have enviable experience of working in government, can you tell us how you see opportunities to further improve cooperation between the administration and the business sector?

– I believe that timely public-private dialogue is of crucial importance to the further improvement of cooperation between the private and public sectors. In our opinion, there is plenty of room for improvement and the MFIC will continue to nurture good and productive cooperation with the government, and to provide further support during the reform process, as we believe strongly that we will achieve much more if we work together closely. Timely and open dialogue between the public and private sectors aimed at understanding and recognising common interests, and then individual interests, is key to a stimulating business environment that results in economic development and a better standard of living for all citizens.

What does the MFIC offer its members when it comes to representing their interests?

– The MFIC is the only association exclusively comprising foreign investors that are doing business in Montenegro. Our primary goal is to represent and express the opinions of our members, for the promotion of shared interests and to stimulate foreign investments, as well as the improvement of communication and cooperation with official bodies in Montenegro. We do this not only through the work of our committees and through participation in the government’s working bodies, but also on a daily basis, through our communication with officials of the public sectors at both the central and local levels, as well as through continuous communication with our international partners in Montenegro – the EU Delegation, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development and representatives of diplomatic missions in Montenegro.

We will continue to monitor the activities of government bodies in an effort to also include the recommendations of our members within measures envisaged for implementation.

In which ways is the MFIC involved in promoting Montenegro’s investment capacities?

– The promotion of the investment potentials of Montenegro, as well as the promotion of the interests of the international business community in Montenegro, are among our priorities.

The MFIC cooperates closely with relevant public institutions responsible for providing incentives and attracting foreign investments. Also, through our continuous communication with existing and potential foreign investors, we provide information regarding the relevant legal and institutional framework, with the aim of encouraging future foreign investments. Moreover, we also provide information on the most attractive investment potentials in the country, as well as practical information that’s useful when establishing and expanding operations in Montenegro.