April 2010

The Conference is a great success as far as we are concerned, with a lot of interest in us from suppliers and distributors. The high level at which many of the speakers pontificate does irritate us though. In one of the panel sessions, Anke makes a strong point to these speakers who fly in and fly back out that they do not really know the actual situation on the ground. “Normal things like insulation and windows” are like objects from outer space here. James refers to the high percentage of unpaid electricity bills, so these consumers have no incentive to save money by installing energy saving features in their buildings. We both get the feeling that it is all too difficult for these “experts” who either do not understand, or do not want to understand as it would spoil their nice little earners.

 At our stand at the GTZ-sponsored Energy Efficiency Conference: we are on either side of the German Ambassador to Montenegro, HE Peter Platte

  © Elisabeth Nöst-Kahlen  2010
Elisabeth’s design – view from north-west

   © Elisabeth Nöst-Kahlen  2010
Elisabeth’s design – view from the south-west
Elisabeth produces an outline proposal for us. It has a bottom floor to be used as a display area and meeting space for us to hold workshops and allow access to the building services equipment room. The other two floors are living space for us. We ask her to produce material we can use for the stand we have been kindly given at the GTZ-sponsored Regional Conference on Energy Efficiency 27 to 29 April in Budva. Hectic activity to produce a flyer for the conference pack and a ‘roll-up’ display for the stand.

We are part of a most useful meeting held by an Austrian contact of ours who has spent several years fighting a way through the bureaucratic barriers to investment in Montenegro. The major ones affect everyone, including locals, who runs a company here (something fortunately we do not have). Some of these are:

The Planning process, especially getting building licences, court procedures, registration in the cadastre, and the payment of communal charges. A major challenge is the different interpretations municipalities have of the law.

Finding competent and trust-worthy accountants/ book-keepers; also lawyers and other professionals.

Getting refunds of VAT – virtually impossible apparently.
The government has set up a Business Barriers Task Force, which is staffed by enthusiastic younger people who recognise the need for change, and try to sort out individual problems. A major aspect of all this is the legacy of communism when there was a guarantee of employment provided one was a party member – having a job is an entirely different thing to doing any work.

The Risan DUP (Detailed Urban Plan) makes its long-awaited public appearance. We see that there is an object shown on our plot, but it is the existing 51m2 ‘Beton’. So we have to submit an application for the footprint and building configuration we want – about 110m2 and 3 floors. The public meeting held in a local hotel attracts about 200 residents and is a furious affair. The municipal officers are told in no uncertain terms that their plans take no account of people’s property boundaries. In several cases, plans dating from the time of the Austro-Hungarian occupation are produced as proof of the existence of buildings that have been omitted from the new DUP. One of our neighbours uses as a pointer a stick cut from a 500-year old olive tree on his land where there is suddenly a new road. We gather that the planning department and the cadastre do not talk to each other, hence the major disconnect between the planners and reality. Among various anecdotes we are told that in one municipality there is a scale of charges for getting an object put onto the DUP, with a fee of twice the amount for removing one. How foreigners who do not live here manage to get anything done is an increasing mystery.