Social card: Advancing social protection for citizens of Montenegro with the help of UNDP

In line with the national social welfare reform strategic directions and the EU social policy agenda, Montenegro continues to advance its social protection system. Introduction of the Social Card – Social Welfare Information System in Montenegro (SWIS), by administrative databases and registries cross-referencing enables creation of a unique electronic ‘social card (record)’ of beneficiaries and applicants for social welfare programmes.

Electronic social card is one of the main pillars of social welfare reform and is deemed very important in the context of on-going efforts to enhance the efficiency of social protection for families, individuals, children in risk and people in need of social protection. The project “Social Card – SWIS” is conceived by the Government of Montenegro and is to be realized with UNDP’s expert assistance.

It is an electronic system for processing, approval, record-keeping, payments but at the same time it is an analytical data base that disaggregates data by demographic characteristics, property ownership, registered income, social and overall family situation, etc. of those who are either beneficiaries or applicants for social protection benefits. This system will also generate an analytical database of rejected applications that will also serve for defining national and local social policies, as well as for their realization and monitoring of effects.

The Social Card project has a couple of more values added. First, there will be significant cost-savings within the system itself, but also for the benefit of the most vulnerable ones. The beneficiaries and the new applicants will no longer experience difficulties and have expenses related to the collection of documentation necessary for access to social benefits. Second, social workers will significantly be relieved in the administrative part of their job, so that they can be more dedicated to the direct work with beneficiaries.

About the signing of the Agreement for the realization of project “Social Card – Social Welfare Information System in Montenegro”

Representatives of the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Montenegro organized a media conference on the occasion of official signing of the Agreement for the realization of project “Social Card – Social Welfare Information System in Montenegro”.

“To put an end to a ten-year-long story, formal and legal conditions have been created for developing a social card system, which will be completed by November 2014,” said Suad Numanović, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare in the Government of Montenegro after the signing of the document. “Through this information system we will obtain clear answers when it comes to unjustified demands, but it will also represent a good foundation for future donors who should recognize a good quality data base, support and services that are directed to those who need them most,” Minister Numanović said.

Rastislav Vrbensky, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative to Montenegro underlined that the UNDP will, as it has done so far, continue efforts to support the social welfare reform and invest all its knowledge, expertise and commitment in order to implement this project in an efficient, quality and timely manner, “and in such a way that the electronic social card will be of benefit to the ones who are in need of social protection in the first place, but to the overall social welfare system as well.”

Total value of the project is €1,279,979.00. The project is financed by the Government of Montenegro with €1,151,981.00, while UNDP will contribute with €127,998.00. The project will be jointly implemented by the UNDP in Montenegro and the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, and its completion is envisaged for the third quarter of 2014.

For the realization of the social card project an expert team will be formed, with a management board headed by Deputy Prime Minister Vujica Lazović. Besides Minister Numanović, Minister of Finance Milorad Katnić will also be a member of the board.