Public funds for NGOs until 2017

Prior to the adoption of the regulation on public funds, there was no specific law or state policy regulating institutional support for CSOs, as there were no national or local level mechanisms for allocating public funds to them. Existing CSO funds were distributed by certain institutions at central and local level without any co-operation or justification and without prior planning within the state budget. Also, there is no public policy or mechanism for public funding of institutional development of CSOs and co-financing with EU and other grants. Given that the standard budget cycle covers only one (1) year, it has been difficult to fund any institutional development grant or program within such a short period of time, while long time funding has not been observed so far. There are no specific procedures or requirements for any CSO participation in the public financing cycle.

As a result of constant pressure from civil society, the Government issued the first NGO public funding report in March 2017, which highlighted some information on public funding. Above all, the report confirmed the concerns raised by civil society that data on public funding of NGOs are not properly used within the state administration. This resulted in very limited information available for the report as well as multiple cases of inadequate categorization within the report. There were cases, due to negligence or technical mistakes then an NGO was counted more than once as a grantee. It has also been noted that there is a lack of distinction between service fees and grants for NGOs, lack of information on the character of supported projects/programs, etc. According to the Government report, the total amount of funds transferred from the state budget to NGOs during 2016 was 13,883,316.78 EUR, with very similar amounts reported for 2015. While municipalities have had a larger share for both years, the central level was characterized by a slight increase during 2016, while the opposite applies to the local level. The number of NGO beneficiaries for 2016 was reported to be 1,659, while the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport is the institution that distributed most of funding for NGOs.

Despite being a very positive step towards the transparency of public funding for NGOs, the Government report on public funding of NGOs has serious shortcomings and does not provide a clear picture of the situation in this area. This is mainly due to the lack of proper data usage system. A detailed analysis of this report developed by KCSF reveals considerably different data, especially with regard to total amounts. When federations and sport clubs were removed from the published list, the NGO funding amount had been reduced by about 7 million euros for two years. Following the further reduction of the amount of less than EUR 1 million distributed to public institutions that were included in the report as NGOs and the amounts assessed as payment of services or other donor funds channeled through public institutions (around 9 million euros for two years), the final amount that could be donated to NGOs for two years is just over 10 million Euros. Moreover, following the improvement of NGO names listed in the report and the removal of NGOs counted several times, the number of beneficiary NGOs does not exceed the 1,800 for two years. Last but very important, the detailed analysis of the KCSF report reveals that about 90 % of payments to NGOs are under 10,000 Euro, with only 4.4 % of them exceeding the amount of 25,000 Euro.