The “decentralized” corruption
SCOOP investigated the expenditures in several municipalities and came up with terrifying results. Procedure violations in public supplies, huge expenses in representation and fuel consumption, uncovered “official” trips, payment of compensations and illegal daily payments and many other irregularities were detected in the process of exercising local power and authority
No one had ever thought that ten years after the outset of the decentralization process, the majority of municipalities would simply go bankrupt. The process of transmission of competencies from the central executive power to the local level began in 2004, after the adoption of the pack of laws that derived from the Ohrid Framework Agreement. This process aimed at empowering the municipalities and giving them more authority so that municipal administration could get closer to the citizens and be prepared to meet their demands and desires.
However, nowadays, the majority of municipalities have got into deep debts, as a result of corruption and abuse with financial incomes, which were decentralized along with the competencies and responsibilities.
SCOOP investigated the expenditures in several municipalities and came up with terrifying results. Procedure violations in public supplies, huge expenses in representation and fuel consumption, uncovered “official” trips, payment of compensations and illegal daily payments and many other irregularities were detected in the process of exercising local power and authority.
According to the documents that SCOOP was able to provide as per the Law on Free Access to Information, huge amounts of money had been spent on the so called “consulting services” and “organization of manifestations”. Certain municipalities were noticed to have spent up to 5,000 Euros a month only for fuel consumption on behalf of municipal vehicles utilization. Rural municipalities had paid huge amounts of money for purchasing paving tiles equal to covering half of the territory of that particular self-government unit.
Lunches and dinners
Based on the provided documents, we can see that the municipality of Struga spent on average 111,000 Euros a year, from 2008 to 2013, for purposes of representation or catering services. It means that within the mentioned time frame, about half a million Euros were spent from the municipal budget for paying for the “official” lunches and dinners by the mayor and the municipal leadership. Based on calculations, the municipality of Struga had spent about 9,258 Euros for representation.
The municipality of Bitola had spent on average, 55,500 Euros a year or 4,632 Euros a month for the above-mentioned activities; Ohrid municipality – 63,300 Euros a year or 5,283 Euros a month; Tetovo municipality – 37,500 Euros a year or 3,133 Euros a month; Kumanovo municipality – 34,500 Euros a year or 1,881 Euros a month, and Strumica municipality – 19,000 Euros a year or 1,586 Euros a month.
The State Auditing Office has also detected countless violations and corruption activities during their recent investigations and controls.
The State Auditing Office noticed at a tourist operator in Ohrid that about 603,000 Denars had been spent for gastronomic services in 2006; they had been recorded in 2008 and paid in 2012. For the same purposes, at another tour operator in the same year, 602,000 Denars were detected to had been spent, of which, there is no cover, i.e. fiscal account for 589,000 Denars; this means that no one knows where and how these expenses occurred.
If one kilometer of an urban road costs approximately 20,000 Euros, then with the spent amount in five years, the municipality of Struga would have paved 25 kilometers of roads; Tetovo – 10; Bitola – 12; Strumica 5; Center – 7; Shtip – 3; Kumanovo – 9 and Ohrid – 15 kilometers.
Suspicious money transfers
A series of irregularities and corruptive affairs had been noticed by the auditors during the controls at the municipality of Tetovo in 2012. The municipality had paid salaries, compensations and daily pays for municipal council members at higher rates than planned with the positive legal regulations. This year, 87 people have been employed on contractual basis without obeying any kind of procedure, i.e. totally illegally whereupon about 100,000 Euros have been spent on their salaries. More than 13,000 Euros were spent in 2012 for municipal council members for purposes of daily payments, even though pursuant to the Law on Municipal Council Member wages, only a monthly compensation for participating in meetings should be paid to them.
More than 120,000 Euros have been spent in the form of money transfers to NGOs and 32,000 Euros for social transfers.
Also, only during this year, the municipality has realized goods supplies and services at the amount of 60,000 Euros, without abiding by the anticipated procedures of the Law on Public Supplies. In this case neither competition, equal approach nor the rationality of spending budgetary means, collected by Tetovo taxpayers, have been respected.
About 42,000 Euros have been spent for official trips abroad and about 93,000 Euros have been spent for telephony services. In two years, about 100,000 Euros have been spent for purchasing fuel for the needs of municipal vehicles, or if said otherwise, from 2009 to 2013 about 31,000 Euros were spent for these purposes.
The report on Ohrid municipality for the year 2012 shows that about 200,000 Euros had been spent as transfer of funds to NGOs, sports clubs and charities, without adopting any kind of act for such payments and transfers. Public supplies amounting at 250,000 Euros were realized without respecting Article 100 of the Law on Public Supplies.
Meanwhile municipalities gain more power, experts warn that this could also increase the corruption potential within the local self-government units.
In their opinion, a far more serious monitoring of the work of mayors is needed, in order to stop corruptive affairs which have brought the local authorities at a miserable financial situation.
Under these circumstances, when municipalities have huge debts as a result of irrational expenditures of the citizens’ money by the mayors, the decentralization as a process has not managed to turn municipalities in a service to their own citizens.