Interview with the Governor, Mr. Radoje Žugić, to Centre for Excellence in Finance
Interview with CEF Governing Board Chair Governor Radoje Žugić
The long-standing cooperation between the CEF and Central Bank of Montenegro (CBCG) has over the years led to several key achievements with respect to capacity development of Montenegrin public sector finance officials. We spoke with the Governor of the CBCG Radoje Žugić about the benefits of our mutual cooperation and the important steps the CBCG has undertaken to ensure a stable and sound banking system in Montenegro.
As a chair of the Governing Board (GB), what would you highlight as a unique benefit of the CEF for Montenegro specifically and for the rest of the constituency? How would you describe cooperation between the CBCG and the CEF and what does it represent for your staff?
Montenegro has benefited greatly from the cooperation with the CEF, and I would highlight the exchange of best practices and professional knowledge as the most important benefit, which is aimed at reaching global standards and networking of Montenegro into the system of advanced economies.
The major part of Montenegro’s cooperation with the CEF goes through the Ministry of Finance and the CBCG. The CEF has provided significant support to Montenegro with regard to enhancing the promotion of responsible public finance management. One of very important projects referred to the professionalization of the role of internal auditors and accountants, so that today, we have a large number of certified auditors and accountants with international certificates of excellence in the public sector, who are trained to conduct further education and training in the country and in the region.
As regards the specific cooperation of the CBCG and the CEF, it mostly concerns the area of professional education. Over the past years, CBCG employees have attended numerous seminars organised by the CEF, covering various topics: risk management, banking supervision, monetary and financial statistics, internal audit, and the like. The participation of CBCG employees in these types of trainings enables them to acquire and improve their knowledge and skills, adopt the best practices and expand the network of their business contacts.
What are the biggest challenges and the most important accomplishments for the CBCG lately?
In the previous period, the CBCG faced certain challenges that threatened to jeopardise the soundness of the banking system and thus the financial stability of the country. These challenges referred primarily to the existence of vulnerable banks in the system and high levels of non-performing loans (NPL) and interest rates. Thanks to significant activities initiated and carried out by the CBCG, we now have a stable and sound banking system, historically lowest levels of NPLs and reduced interest rates, although there is still room for their further decline and for significant banking sector support to the real sector.
As for the most important accomplishments, I would emphasise the significant level of alignment of domestic regulations with the EU directives and strengthened supervisory function (which was accomplished through strengthening staffing capacities, connecting this function with the responsibility of the Governor and establishing the Supervisory Committee, as well as a separate organisational unit for off-site examination of banks). Furthermore, we have strengthened supervision in the prevention of money laundering and terrorist financing, and the risk-based approach development is underway.
We have also started another important project – the implementation of independent asset quality review (AQR) of all banks, which will contribute to a more adequate collateral valuation in the area of assets classification and loan loss provisioning in banks. This will, ultimately, result in a more stable and more resilient banking sector in general.
And something personal for conclusion. What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of the CBCG staff. This institution can be praised for an enviable qualification structure of employees. 73% of the total number of employees has higher education, 65 employees hold a master’s degree and 16 employees hold a PhD degree. A significant percent of employees have acquired their academic degree at recognised international educational institutions, and many have improved their skills in the most renowned international institutions, like the IMF, World Bank, European Central Bank and United Nations.
The Vice-Governors' positions are covered by three reputable professionals: Zorica Kalezić, PhD, who has also worked as Advisor to the Executive Director of Dutch-Belgium Constituency in the World Bank, and later in the IMF, Miodrag Radonjić, a top economist with a long-standing experience in the banking sector, and Professor Nikola Fabris, PhD, the youngest tenured professor at the Belgrade University.
The exceptional staff, their dedication to work, excellent interpersonal relationships and team work are a guarantee for efficiently overcoming all challenges and for outstanding work performance entrusted to this institution.