MUNICIPALITY OF CHASHKA HAS PURCHASED 100 PHONES FOR 66 EMPLOYEES AND HAS SPENT 26 THOUSAND EUROS
- One of the largest tenders in the municipality of Chashka regards the procurement of 100 mobile phones.
- 19 phones have been purchased more than necessary and all of them were taken by the former mayor.
- The incumbent mayor complains that although the Organized Crime Prosecutor’s Office has made a full investigation, the case is stuck in the Veles Prosecutor’s Office which does not open a procedure in this case.
Author: Svetlana Unkovska
Located in the central part of the country, the rural municipality of Chashka has only 7,673 inhabitants in 42 settlements. It is in the group of 22 out of 84 municipalities with less than 8,000 inhabitants, most of whom face a lack of capacity to deliver basic services to citizens.
However, these problems have not prevented the local authorities from engaging a total of 66 people in the municipal administration. In addition, much more than the number of employees has been procured for municipal management and staff. The Inbox7 investigation found documents showing that about 26,600 Euro or more precisely 1,650,000.00 denars were the contract that former Mayor of Chashka Gorancho Panovski concluded in 2016 with ONE VIP company for communications services. In addition to the amount of this contract, it is also surprising that Mayor Panovski procured about a hundred phone numbers, but it is unclear who they were for. However, there is also a contract by which he gave 19 mobile phones himself.
The Contract concluded on September 14, 2016 for two years, states that mobile telecommunication services are procured for the official needs of the employees of Chashka municipality, members of Chashka municipality council and the employees of the Public Utility Company “Topolka”. Out of the total 1,650,000.00 denars, 1,400,000.00 will be paid from the budget of the municipality of Chashka and 250,000.00 will be borne by the Topolka Public Enterprise. Of the procurement of hundreds of mobile phones, 85 are for the municipality and 15 for the utility company. For the municipality of Chashka 73 subscriber lines were with tariff model 1, which has a monthly subscription of up to 440,00 denars without VAT, 11 telephones with tariff model 2 with a monthly subscription of 1,220.00 denars and 1 phone with tariff model 3 whose monthly subscription amounted to 1,600.00 denars.
As of this contract, the public enterprise Topolka has 13 mobile phones with tariff model 1, with a subscription fee of 440.00 denars and 2 phones with tariff model 2 with a subscription fee of 1.220,00 denars.
SINCE 2005 THE NUMBER OF MUNICIPAL ADMINISTRATION STAFF HAS INCREASED BY 54
According to the SCOOP – Macedonia research, in 2005 Chashka municipality’s administration numbered only 12 employees, 19 in 2014 while it now has 66 employees. If one employee in the administration can serve 1000 citizens on average, then this municipality needs only about 8 employees.
INVESTIGATION INTO ORGANIZED CRIME, THE VELES PROSECUTION IS SILENT
Incumbent mayor Goran Stojanovski tells Inbox7 that his initiative has revised the work of the previous mayor and that there is widespread abuse in this procurement.
“The municipality employed 66 people along with temporary staff, most of who did not come to work and were only fictitious employees and 100 phones were purchased, which is unrealistic. The previous mayor have to answer where the other telephones are and why so many were procured as not only for this but also for other abuses we reported to the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime, which after the evidence obtained gave the case to the Veles prosecution more than a year ago, where the work is stuck”, Stojanovski says.
We also asked him if he had any idea where these phones were and what was happening with so many phones more than needed. “Neither I, nor any of the employees know what was going on. I just know that there were 5 phone numbers on the mayor’s behalf. I do not know whether he used those phones or not, and we gave everything to the Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime, but it is unclear why until now nothing has been raised by the Veles Prosecutor’s Office”, adds Mayor Stojanovski.
Chashka stuck in debts, the ex-mayor luxuriated in mobile phones
Although Chashka is one of the smaller municipalities in the country, ex-Mayor Panovski, who is a member of VMRO-DPMNE and who led this municipality for two terms i.e. from 2009 to 2017, made one of the major expenses for this procurement of mobile phones. Although considered a less developed municipality, he once spent municipal money of 26,600 Euros just to procure mobile phones. At that time the municipality owed about 166,000 Euros, and a year later at the end of Panovski’s second term, the municipality’s account was blocked due to a debt of over 15 million denars or about 242,000 Euros.
Incumbent Mayor Stojanovski said after the takeover that there was chaos in the municipality, and recently on his Facebook profile wrote that in addition to the private audit of the previous work, the State Audit Office also issued findings and expects the institutions to take steps. In the review published in June this year, among other things, the mobile phones contract was also referred to as disputed procurement, stating that of the 85 numbers, 19 more than needed had been purchased. According to the audit, they were taken by the mayor and they alone cost the municipality 125,000 denars or about 2,000 Euros. The abovementioned situation, which by the decision of the mayor 19 official mobile phones were approved, is under review and has the effect of inappropriate and illegal use of funds.
WHAT HAS THE STATE AUDIT OFFICE ESTABLISHED FOR THIS CASE?
“The municipality has a contract with a mobile operator for the use of mobile telecommunications services, with a monthly subscription of at least 85 telephone numbers (for municipal employees, temporary staff, the president and council members), which is 19 more than needed”; Article 2 of the Decision on the Use of Official Mobile Phones of the Employees of the Municipality of Chashka regulates the persons who are provided with mobile phones with SIM cards with subscriber numbers by tariff model, which gives 19 official mobile phones and telephone numbers to the Mayor of Chashka Municipality and allowed monthly limit of 550 denars with VAT included. This has resulted in more expenditures on the basis of mobile telephony compared to the real needs for the amount of 125 thousand denars, it is stated in the review of the purchase of mobile phones.
The new Mayor Stojanovski, after taking office, signed a new contract with a mobile operator.
In its research on how municipalities spend budget money, how citizens’ money is managed on local level and what it is mostly spent on, Inbox7 will publish a series of articles on the subject in the coming period.