The Court of Accounts of the Republic of Moldova (CoARM) presented on May 10, within the Public Finance Control Committee, the Compliance audit report on the provision of compensation and humanitarian aid to farmers affected by natural calamities on the 2020 harvest and the Report of the follow-up mission regarding the implementation of the recommendations approved by the Court of Accounts Decision no. 36 from 16.07.2021 regarding the Compliance Audit Report on the implementation of the Housing Construction Project for the Socially Vulnerable Layers II.
Tatiana Șevciuc, Member of the CoARM and the auditors responsible for the audit regarding the granting of compensation and humanitarian aid to farmers affected by natural disasters reported to the Parliamentary Committee about the results and findings that formed the basis of the formulation of the general conclusions as well as the recommendations submitted.
The Republic of Moldova is vulnerable to climate changes, and their impact on agriculture is of particular concern, as agriculture is a major source of income for a large part of the population of the Republic of Moldova. The 2020 agricultural year had a negative impact on the activity of the farmers in the country, due to the prolonged soil drought, which affected both autumn and spring crops.
In order to mitigate the consequences of the natural calamity, direct interventions were carried out, by granting compensation and humanitarian aid to the affected farmers, from three sources of funding totaling 462.8 million lei: by derogation from the legal provisions, 324 million lei were allocated from the means of the National Fund for the Development of Agriculture and the Rural Environment; from the account of the non-refundable financial assistance granted by the Russian Federation, 275 million Russian rubles were allocated, the equivalent of 59.7 million lei; external humanitarian aid – 6 thousand tons of diesel worth 79.1 million lei, granted free of charge by the Government of Romania.
According to the audit, the limited deadlines for carrying out the tasks delegated to the actors involved in the process of managing the means intended for granting compensations and humanitarian aid generated a series of deficiencies and non-compliances.
For the distribution of the support granted to agricultural producers, regulatory provisions were approved through separate Government Decisions, but the preparation of the Damage Assessment Act was carried out in the absence of a normative act approved in the established manner. The lack of a well-conceived and legally approved normative mechanism has led to a series of deficiencies and non-compliances when completing the damage assessment documents, drawn up by the Committees for the examination and evaluation of the degree of damage to agricultural crops, as a result of the recorded natural calamities.
The Court of Accounts concluded that urgent measures are to be undertaken to review, adjust and approve in the established manner the Methodological Guidelines regarding the assessment of the degree of damage to agricultural crops as a result of natural disasters, in order to exclude in the future the application of non-uniform approaches to the preparation of the Damage Assessment Act. Rigorous measures are also needed to recover from the budget the financial means granted irregularly and additionally, and the regulatory framework related to natural calamities needs to be reviewed and harmonized.
Eduard Moroșan, Member of the CoARM and the auditors responsible for the audit presented the results of the follow-up audit regarding the implementation of the recommendations approved by the Court of Accounts Decision no. 36 from 16.07.2021 regarding the Compliance Audit Report on the implementation of the Housing Construction Project for the Socially Vulnerable Layers.
The previous audit highlighted deficiencies in the organization, realization and monitoring of the implementation of the Housing Construction Project for the socially vulnerable layers, such as the distribution of social housing to beneficiaries who do not correspond to the criteria established by law (in 57 cases out of the 139 verified), the distribution of social housing to beneficiaries who did not correspond to the eligibility criteria regarding the income obtained (16 cases out of the 139 verified), etc.
To remedy the attested situations, 29 recommendations were submitted to 9 entities throughout the CoARM’s Decision, of which 7 recommendations were implemented, 9 were partially implemented and not implemented – 13 recommendations.
The measures taken by the concerned entities were not sufficient to fully eliminate the identified deficiencies, therefore the previously identified problems remain, the non-resolution of which indicates a high degree of materialization, continuity and advancement of the problems.
Thus, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Regional Development did not take sufficient measures to correlate the normative framework, which conditions the further distribution of social housing to beneficiaries who do not meet the criteria established by the normative acts.
Nor did the Construction Project Implementation Unit (PIU) take measures to remove the deficiencies found by the previous audit concerning the execution of construction works, not being recovered expenses in the total amount of 142.3 thousand lei, paid for the execution of some works, that were not actually ascertained by the audit team (regarding 3 objectives). Moreover, it is revealed that in the result of the control carried out by the Technical Supervision Agency (TSA) of the volumes and costs of the works carried out at the objectives in the districts of Rezina and Cimișlia, were stated exaggerations of the volumes in the total amount of 5.6 million lei and 1.4 million lei, respectively.
Thus, during the follow-up mission, were collected samples to evaluate the implementation of the recommendations from the previous audit and for the other beneficiary districts. Deficiencies were found during the implementation of the Project within the objectives in Rezina and Cimișlia districts, caused by the delay in the completion of the construction works by the contractors, although the concerned District Councils already bear expenses for the payment of loans and related interests.
Finally, the recommendations from the Compliance Audit Report on the implementation of the Housing Construction Project for the Socially Vulnerable Layers, which were not implemented, were reiterated and reformulated by the external public audit.
The Chairperson of the Public Finance Control Committee, Tatiana Cunetchi, welcomed the efforts of the Court of Accounts, which, through the audit, showed the vulnerabilities of the system that lead to the non-compliant capitalization of financial means with the respective destination. According to the deputy, in the perspective of joining the European Union, our country will continue to benefit from important financial means, therefore, the methodological framework for the use of these resources must be strengthened, the information systems that ensure transparency - optimally exploited, and the human factor - minimized to exclude any risk of corruption.