Based on the announced results of open calls of the Ministry of Youth and Sports for financing and co-financing programs and projects, the National Youth Council of Serbian analyzed the CSOs that will receive funds for the implementation of programs and projects, as well as the open calls themselves. The open calls refer to the implementation of the goals of the National Youth Strategy and the “Youth is the Law” program (open call for NYS), as well as the stimulation of various forms of employment, self-employment, and youth entrepreneurship (open call for employment).
The open calls are the following:
- Open call for financing and co-financing of programs and projects for the implementation of the objectives of the National Youth Strategy and the program “Youth is the law” (Decision on the allocation of funds for financing and co-financing of programs and projects number: 401-01-279 / 2021-04 of 19 May 2021 and the Decision on the allocation of part of the funds for programs and projects of public interest in the areas of the youth sector in 2021, number: 401-01-283 / 2021-04 of 19 May 2021).
- Open call for stimulating various forms of employment, self-employment, and entrepreneurship of young people (Decision on allocation of funds for financing and co-financing of programs and projects number: 401-01-281 / 2021-04 of 19 May 2021 and Decision on allocation of funds for programs and projects of public interest in the areas of the youth sector in 2021, number: 401-01-285 / 2021-04 dated 19 May 2021);
We note that according to the website of the Ministry of Youth and Sports the contracts with representatives of CSOs that will receive funds for the implementation of programs and projects were signed on May 28, 2021, and that the results of the open call were published on June 1, 2021. Therefore, contracts with CSOs that will receive funds have been signed before the Ministry publishing the results of open calls.
Although the additional analysis, which would include other CSOs whose projects were not approved, could support the findings, a review of the data poses a question of how purposeful the allocation of the funds is and to what extent the open calls can improve the position of young people if certain (below mentioned) parameters are not considered during the selection process. The findings of the open call analysis also indicate the need for a new Rulebook, which will serve as a basis for the allocation of funds towards youth and youth organizations.
Based on the results of these open calls, KOMS has analyzed:
– regional representation of approved projects,
– years that have passed since the establishment of CSOs,
– visibility of CSOs (website, social media) and mechanisms of communication of project results and values,
– annual income of organizations as an indicator of the capacity of organizations to manage financial resources.
Analysis of the result of the open calls of the Ministry of Youth and Sports
Regional representation of approved projects
Although to a lesser extent than the previous year, the total number of CSOs from Belgrade that will receive funds is still too high. Out of a total of 66 granted programs and projects, organizations from Belgrade were granted 30 (45.45%). The number of granted projects in the region of Vojvodina is also above average with a total of 20 out of 66 granted projects. As many as 41 out of 66 (62.1%) granted projects were granted to organizations from Belgrade and Novi Sad.
In the case of the open call for the implementation of the NYS, 14 out of 34 projects were granted to Belgrade-based CSOs, while funds were allocated to CSOs in only 12 out of 30 (40%) districts. In terms of finances and allocated funds, 45.64 out of a total of 84.99 million dinars were distributed to CSOs from Belgrade. Jointly, CSOs from the region of Belgrade and Vojvodina received 70.04 out of a total of 84.99 million dinars.
In the case of the open call for employment, Belgrade CSOs received 16 out of the 32 projects. The region of Kosovo and Metohija, as well as 19 other districts, will not receive any funds. In terms of distribution of resources 43.52 million dinars out of a total of 79.99 million dinars were allocated to CSOs from Belgrade, and in total, the regions of Belgrade and Vojvodina were granted 56.85 million dinars out of a total of 79.99.
Such regional funding allocation is particularly worrying if we take into consideration that the number of unemployed youth in Belgrade is significantly lower than the number of unemployed youth from other regions, especially Central and Western Serbia and Southern and Eastern Serbia. Out of the total number of unemployed youth, 10.8% are from Belgrade (12,449 unemployed youth), 19.6% are from Vojvodina (22,593 unemployed youth), 28.3% from the region of Southern and Eastern Serbia (32,673 unemployed youth), and as many as 34.9% of unemployed youth are from the region of Central and Western Serbia (40,279,000 unemployed youth). The region that has the most unemployed young people – Central and Western Serbia, was granted only three projects and a total of only 7.4 million dinars. Based on this, it is concluded that during the allocation of funds, the percentage of youth unemployment by region was not considered, and neither have the needs of young people in a significant part of Serbia.
Years that have passed since the establishment of CSOs
The analysis also provided an overview in terms of the years that have passed since the establishment of the CSOs that have received the funds through the open calls. Unlike the last year, the funds were not allocated towards the association which was established only after the call was opened. However, this year, once again, several recently established CSOs received the funds. Out of 32 funded projects in the employment competition, three CSOs whose projects were funded have been established less than two years ago (established after 1.1.2020), while four other CSOs funded have been established less than four years ago (established after 1.1.2018). Funds to the CSOs formed since 2020 were not granted in the open call for NYS, but three CSOs established after 2018 were granted.
Visibility of the association
Visibility of activities and reach to the target group is an important indicator of how CSOs communicate their activities. Using the information available on the Internet for 5 CSOs that were granted the funds through the open call for NYS, as well as 14 (out of 32) that were granted funds through the open call for employment, we did not find a website. For as many as 19 CSOs out of 66 (projects) granted through these two open calls, we were unable to find websites.
For the seven CSOs that received funds through the open call for NYS and eight of them that received through the open call for employment, we were unable to find any pages or profiles on Instagram and Facebook.
The annual income of organizations
A review of the official financial reports of the CSOs (publicly available on the Business Registers Agency website) shows that in the open call for employment as many as six CSOs received more money for the implementation of the projects than their total income last year was (to consider the circumstances caused by the pandemic COVID-19 in some cases, incomes from the year were analyzed). In the open call for NYS – four CSOs received more money for this project than their total income last year (or the year before, considering that the circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic were considered in this case as well). It should be noted that the funding of the project and the resources allocated towards the implementation were also given to the association that was registered in Business Registers Agency as a sports association.
This analysis represents the first step based on the available data from the results of the open call, data from the Business Registers Agency database, and information available on the Internet. The open call’s results show only the total number of points for CSOs, rather than scoring based on the criteria that the Commission is required to use for expert review of submitted proposals for programs and projects of public interest in the youth sector – under Article 8 of the Rulebook for financing programs and projects of public interest in the youth sector. All program and project proposals are evaluated based on the following criteria:
1) compliance of the results and effects of the program or project with the objectives of the open call and contribution to the realization of the public interest in the areas of the youth sector;
2) capacity of the program or project implementor;
3) content and feasibility of the program or project proposal;
4) coverage and compliance with the needs of target groups;
5) sustainability of the effects of the program or project;
6) expediency and rationality of costs;
7) visibility of the program or project;
8) quality of realization of previous programs or projects financed by the Ministry.
It should not be overlooked that the decisions and rulings of the Ministry of Youth and Sports have not been published and that the results themselves do not contain a lesson on legal remedies for CSOs that were part of the open calls. Furthermore, it should be noted that, unlike for the earlier open calls, the norm of including representatives from international organizations in the Commission for Expert Review was not followed in this case; instead, all five members of the commission were from the ministries of the Republic of Serbia (three commissioned members of the Ministry of Youth and Sports and two other representatives of other ministries were part of the commission).
The National Youth Council of Serbia sent a request to the Ministry of Youth and Sports for information of public importance, requesting all materials (meeting minutes, individual scoring according to criteria, individual points from commission members, etc.) created by the Commission for expert review of submitted program and project proposals for financing programs and projects of public interest in the areas of the youth sector and when the materials are submitted to KOMS – we will make them available to the general public.
Given the low level of realization of the goals of the National Strategy for Youth, perhaps the reasons for that can be sought in a non-transparent process of allocating funds through open calls.