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Audit activity: The Ministry of Culture inefficiently manages public patrimony and financial resources

  • 07.07.2023
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The Court of Accounts of the Republic of Moldova, on July 7, examined the results of the audit of the consolidated financial reports of the Ministry of Culture concluded on December 31, 2022.

The Ministry of Culture is the central specialized body of the public administration that ensures the development, implementation and monitoring of government policies in the fields of: culture, national heritage and tourism, ensuring the best ratio between expected results and expected costs.

The assets managed by the ministry as of 31.12.2022 constituted 1.1 billion lei, or 706.5 million lei more compared to the situation as of 31.12.2021. The ministry's actual expenses for 2022 amounted to 445.3 million lei, 324.8 million lei more than the previous year.

The significant deviations between the data reported for the situation on 31.12.2022 vis-à-vis the data reported for the previous period are due to the fact that although the Ministry of Culture was created by dividing the Ministry of Education, Culture and Research in 2021, the process of transferring assets managed by the Ministry of Culture was completed in August 2022, as well as the fact that in 2021 the institution reported expenses for only 4 months.

The Court of Accounts examining the consolidated financial reports of the Ministry of Culture issued the adverse audit opinion, which was determined by the deficiencies noted at the level of all financial reports, the balance sheet and revenues being affected by approx. 2 billion lei, and expenses – by 2.1 million lei.

The insufficiency of an internal managerial control led to the failure to ensure the inventory, evaluation and registration in the accounting records of the monuments that are part of the national cultural heritage. Their register, approved throughout the Parliament’s Decision no. 1531/1993, is morally obsolete, it initially included untruthful data about the objects included, some cult objects de facto being demolished as early as the 1970s, and in their place being placed other real estate, including private property.

The audit could not obtain sufficient evidence to determine the value of the national heritage public property of the state in the field of cinematography which was to be administered by the National Center of Cinematography. The respective heritage is dispersed through various institutions, which are not founded by the ministry, namely:

  • JSC "Moldova-film", in whose custody are 52 films from the national film library worth 9.03 million lei in the absence of a contract for their preservation and ensuring their integrity;
  • The National Archive, which preserves 1255 films, which, however, are unrated;
  • JSC "Moldcinema" keeps both domestic and foreign films, the number and value of which could not be determined.

The Ministry of Culture did not ensure the proper delimitation and registration in the Real Estate Register (RER) of the rights over all real estate and land managed by subordinate and self-managed institutions, as provided by the regulatory framework. Thus, 8 plots of land and 8 buildings are registered as property of the local public administration, 3 plots of land and 97 buildings have not registered the property rights in the RER, for 22 plots the rights of use over them are not registered.

The audit identified some irregularities related to the recognition of the right of administrator of the Public Property Agency (PPA) over the lands managed by the Ministry of Culture and the founded institutions. The list of publicly owned lands of the state under the PPA’s administration, approved throughout the Government’s Decision no. 161/2019, is not updated as provided by Law no. 121/2007, namely:

  • 11 publicly owned lands of the Republic of Moldova managed by the Ministry of Culture and 6 founded institutions are not found in the G’sD 161/2019;
  • 6 lands reported by 5 subordinate institutions according to the Real Estate Register are LPA property;
  • 2 plots of land reported by 2 subordinate institutions and not included in the G’sD no. 161/2019, according to the Real Estate Register, are owned by the LPA, although they are related to state-owned public buildings under the Ministry of Culture.

The audit found that the ministry did not ensure the development and approval of regulations regarding the financial support of theaters, circuses and concert organizations, as well as the correlation of financial support with the activities carried out by them. Thus, the provisions of art. 17 of Law no. 1421/2002 on the principles of subsidizing theater-concert organizations were repealed on 01.01.2019, therefore the provisions of point 37 of the Regulation approved throughout the Government’s Decision no. 1242/2003, by which reference is made to Law no. 1421/2002, are obsolete and are to be connected to the existing normative framework. It was mentioned that the amount of subsidies granted to theater-concert institutions is substantial vis-à-vis the consolidated annual budget of the Ministry of Culture. Thus, in 2022, were reported subsidies allocated to these categories of beneficiaries, in the total amount of 207.9 million lei, which constitutes 47.4% of the total actual expenses reported by the Ministry of Culture.

The audit attested several irregularities in the granting of subsidies for cultural projects carried out by non-commercial organizations, irregularities also found in previous years, such as: non-presentation of confirmatory documents regarding the use of the received means, presentation of documents with general information, in the absence of details of the services provided, etc. For example, a Public Association, based on the same documents, confirmed the expenses both at the Ministry of Culture and at the Ministry of Education and Research. Thus, although the normative framework clearly regulates the financing conditions, the project evaluation committee did not in all cases take into account its provisions. One of the basic criteria is the project's expenditure estimate, (type and amount of expenditure) and its real value, divided by funding sources (from the budget; own contribution), which would later allow the verification of the compliance of the use of the allocated means, as well as the use according to their destination.

A problem that the audit drew attention to is that the Theater Directorate within the Public Institution Center for Culture and Art "Ginta Latină" is called "Theatre without a name", a name that overlaps with that of a private institution. More than that, all cultural events, organized including with public funds, are promoted in the mass media under the name "Theatre without a name", which denotes the promotion of the name/trademark of the mentioned private institution, but not of the Public Institution Center of Culture and Art "Ginta Latină".

The problems identified are due to insufficient internal managerial control. Although activities have been initiated to implement the previous recommendations of the Court of Accounts, the level of their implementation is low. Thus, out of 10 recommendations submitted by the Court of Accounts’ Decision no. 42 from 29.07.2022, most of which have been reiterated since 2018, 1 recommendation was implemented, 2 recommendations were partially implemented, and 7 recommendations were not implemented. This is due to the reduced institutional capacities, as well as the lack of monitoring of the activity of subordinate entities (18 budgetary institutions and 21 self-management institutions).

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