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CoARM’s audit: management of financial resources allocated for the elections of the position of President of the Republic of Moldova and anticipated parliamentary elections

  • 22.02.2022
  • 1243

On February 22, the Court of Accounts of the Republic of Moldova examined the Compliance Audit Report on the management of financial resources allocated for the elections of the position of President of the Republic of Moldova in 2020 and the Compliance Audit Report on the management of financial resources allocated for organizing and conducting anticipated parliamentary elections from July 11, 2021.

The audit activities were carried out within the Central Electoral Commission (CEC), a body empowered to coordinate the activity of all electoral bodies in order to prepare and conduct elections according to the Electoral Code, being audited the management of financial resources allocated for elections by the CEC, at the same time, evidence was requested and collected from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration (MFAEI).

The Central Electoral Commission approves the estimate of expenses for the organization and conduct of elections, which includes the expenses for: CEC, 36 constituency electoral councils and 2200 polling stations, of which 150 polling stations abroad.

With regard to the Compliance Audit Report on the management of the financial resources allocated for the elections of the position of President of the Republic of Moldova in 2020, it is revealed that the CEC prepared and approved the expenditure estimate amounting to 167.4 million lei, and as a result of the rectification of the budget, funds in the amount of 167.3 million lei were specified.

The Ministry of Finance, according to its competencies, specified financial means in the amount of 166.7 million lei, being executed 134 million lei, or 80.4%, of which for CEC - 126.97 million lei, and for MFAEI - 7 .02 million lei.

At the same time, from the Government's reserve fund, financial means were allocated to CEC in the amount of 13.3 million lei, of which 13.1 million lei were executed, and to MFAEI - 1.02 million lei, being executed only 0.7 million lei, for the purchase of protective equipment in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection.

The CEC, the Electoral Councils of the constituency, the Continuing Education Center and the MFAEI did not ensure, in some cases, the execution and reporting according to the regulatory framework of financial means, thus violating the principle of performance to demonstrate the economical and efficient use of the allocated resources.

At the same time, the audit highlights the lack of regulations both at the normative level and at the internal regulatory level, being admitted non-compliances, which generated increased expenses from the state budget, expressed by:

  • the lack of express procedures in the regulatory framework regarding the delivery and printing of ballot papers, the price of ballot papers varies significantly for polling stations abroad and in the country;
  • the lack of clarity, within the Electoral Code, regarding the remuneration of the employees' work leaves room for various interpretations, which determines the execution of the increased expenses from the state budget;
  • Procuring fuel in the absence of primary documents reveals the possibility of admitting extra costs and missing savings; and so on.

Purchases of protective equipment to prevent the spread of COVID-19 infection have been made with some reservations about the principles of good governance, economy, efficiency and effectiveness. Thus, from the allocations from the reserve fund were purchased protective equipment in the amount of 13.1 million lei, of which were used in the amount of 9.6 million lei, remaining goods in the amount of 3.5 million lei. The audit found that the amount of masks was to be supplemented, as appropriate, taking into account the number of those used in the first ballot, but the CEC did not perform a procedure for counting the remaining masks and purchased an additional 1.2 million pcs. in the total amount of 1.3 million lei, which were not used and as a result were sent free of charge, with the same size, being increased the execution of the estimate of expenses intended for this election.

At the same time, the CEC procured centralized protection equipment, with reserves of goods, and the constituency electoral councils purchased goods at much higher prices, at which, according to the audit, savings were missed.

With regard to the Draft Compliance Audit Report on the management of the financial resources allocated for the organization and conduct of the early parliamentary elections of July 11, 2021, the audit reveals that the CEC prepared and approved the estimated expenditure totaling 125.0 million lei. The Ministry of Finance allocated to the CEC, from the Government's reserve fund, financial means in the total amount of 92.5 million lei, of which 84.5 million lei were executed, or at the level of 91.4%. The CEC returned unallocated allowances in the amount of 7.8 million lei to the Government's reserve fund.

The execution of the allocations for the organization and conduct of the early parliamentary elections from July 11, 2021 were carried out with deviations from the provisions of the normative framework, such as:

  • the payment of the indemnities of the electoral officials was carried out by some Electoral Councils of the electoral constituency, with deviations from the normative framework, and the remuneration of the work of the employees of the Continuing Education Center and the Central Electoral Commission - in the absence of exhaustive regulation on payment and duties;
  • some Electoral Councils of the constituency did not distribute to the Electoral Bureaus of the polling stations, within the limit approved by the CEC, the fuel procurement allowances, and when executing the expenses, they did not complete properly and did not fully attach the confirmatory documents according to the normative framework;
  • The constituencies of the constituency procured office supplies and other material goods, but did not distribute them to the polling stations, within the limits approved by the CEC. At the same time, the CEC planned to purchase ballot papers in the total amount of 4.0 million lei at a unit price of 1 lei, of which 3.3 million lei for the polling stations in the country and 750.0 thousand lei for the foreign ones. The actual expenses for the purchase of the ballots amounted to 656.0 thousand lei, or at the level of 16.2% of the planned amount, the unit price of a ballot being 0.18 lei.

Some audit observations can be found in both draft Audit Reports, namely the way in which public procurement activities are organized, most contracts being concluded by way of exception under the Public Procurement Act. The procurement plan was drawn up in the absence of an exact knowledge of the needs, and the contracts concluded by the Electoral Councils of the constituency were not reported to the Public Procurement Agency for overseeing the procurement.

Finally, the Court of Accounts concludes that the aspects of compliance with the management of financial means, the management of the execution of election expenses were affected by non-compliance with the rules governing the financial-budgetary discipline, as well as by the lack of proper internal control, which led to irregularities and uncertainties in the use of financial means.

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