The budget line for "national interest in the cultural field" has been criticised for lack of transparency on decision making and finances.
5.1.3 Allocation of public funds
The Law on Local Self Government (2002) re-allocated some responsibilities to the municipalities, such as: accomplishing and development of local interest in culture; institutional and financial support of cultural institutions and projects, preserving of folklore, customs, old crafts and similar cultural values; organising cultural events; encouragement of various specific forms of art.
According to the Decision on the Network of National Institutions in the Field of Culture 64 cultural institutions are considered local institutions. It means that the local authorities are responsible to provide the financing of the basic costs (salaries, running costs etc.) of these institutions. The local institutions can apply for annual funding from the Ministry of Culture for programmes and specific projects. Since June 2005, this has been put into practice.
On the other hand, the Minister of Culture has the discretion (on the basis of the Law on Culture) to dispose of public funds. According to Article 10 of the Law on Culture, the Minister establishes the annual scope of the national interest in culture; according to Article 66 the Minister approves the annual programme of funding the cultural institutions; according to Article 67 the Minister has the discretion to independently allocate 10% of the annual budget for culture, etc.
The whole process of the annual funding of the so called national interest in the cultural field was criticised in the past several years by the opposition parties, some intellectuals, cultural workers and cultural associations, especially the programme for funding publishing houses, film, visual arts etc. The main points of criticism were on the grounds of insufficient transparency, that the biggest percentages of the funds were being allocated according to "party standards" and to people and firms close to the ruling political party, insufficient financial indicators for the projects etc. On the other hand, in the past several years the Ministry of Culture does not publicly announce members of the commissions who decide on the allocation of public funds. In spite of growing public criticism, nothing has been done in this direction and the members of the commissions are kept secret. Furthermore, there are no annual reports of any kind, especially financial reports or any kind of financial information about the projects financed through the annual competitions.
The "Core" Association that represents 14 associations and NGO's, wrote open letter on the 2013 Yearly Programme, saying that there are no clear criteria for national interest of the adopted projects, there was no consultation or financial transparency, etc. They saw a huge populist splitting of the cultural budget on numerous beneficiaries instead of strategic support to the main actors in the cultural field and the independent cultural scene.