Several thousand women took the streets of Montenegro's capital Podgorica to protest the cabinet's decision to cut benefits for mothers with three or more children, local media reported. We note that such benefits were introduced last year but were slashed by 25% from Jan 1 as part of the cabinet's fiscal consolidation measures. Some 18,500 mothers are eligible for the benefits, which are expected to cost the government some EUR67m per year.
Finance Minister Darko Radunovic said last year that the public debt will grow further until peaking at 79.5% of GDP in 2019. The minister expects the public debt to start declining from 2019 onwards to reach 74.1% of GDP in 2021 but said that cutting the public debt level will pose a serious challenge for the government in the long term. Radunovic also disclosed that the government will borrow EUR455m in 2017 to cover capital expenditures and service its debts.