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The Court of Accounts presented the results of the audit at the Ministry of Education and Research

  • 28.07.2023
  • 684

The Court of Accounts of the Republic of Moldova, on July 28, examined within an online session the Audit Report on the consolidated financial reports of the Ministry of Education and Research (MER) concluded on December 31, 2022.

The MER is the central specialized body of the central public administration, which ensures the development, implementation and monitoring of government policies in the fields of: education, research and innovation, youth, physical culture and sports, inter-ethnic relations and the functioning of the languages ​​spoken on the territory of the country, ensuring the best ratio between the expected results and the expected costs.

The assets managed by the MER, which is administered by 73 budgetary institutions and 78 self-management institutions, as of December 31, 2022, amounted to 6.8 billion lei. The actual expenditures of the Ministry for the year 2022 constituted 2.7 billion lei, and the actual revenues – 4.1 billion lei.

The Court of Accounts issued an adverse audit opinion, which was determined by the deficiencies found at the level of all financial reports, the accounting balance being affected by approx. 2.6 billion lei, revenues by – 1 billion lei and expenses – by 237.2 million lei.

The problems identified by the audit are due to insufficient internal managerial control. Although activities have been initiated to implement the recommendations of the Court of Accounts, the level of their implementation is low. Thus, out of 23 recommendations submitted throughout the Court of Accounts’ Decision no. 41 from 2022, most of which have been reiterated since 2018, only 6 recommendations have been implemented, 6 recommendations - partially implemented, and 11 - not implemented.

The most significant distortions on the financial reports are conditioned by the non-compliance with the provisions of the normative framework in the process of reorganizing the institutions in the field of education, research and innovation, and the lack of analytical records of public patrimony from the public domain transferred to economic management.

For example, according to the transmission documents presented by the Academy of Public Administration, the audit found that the value of the public patrimony received under economic management and with property rights constituted 43.3 million lei. At the same time, the value of the net assets at the time of the transfer as a result of the reorganization was 37.3 million lei, or 6 million lei less than the value of the investments registered at the MER.

A similar situation is attested concerning the absorption of the Continuing Education Institute by the State Pedagogical University "Ion Creangă" where the value of the social capital recorded in the financial statements and MER’s reports at the date of transmission was 4.2 million lei, and the value of net assets – 0.4 million lei, or 3.8 million lei less than the value of the investments registered at the MER. Another situation is stated in the case of the absorption of the State Agrarian University of Moldova, where the value of the transferred heritage of 555.6 million lei is greater than the value of the registered investments by 116.9 million lei.

According to the analyzes carried out, one of the objectives that was the basis of the reform was the number of budgetary places distributed among universities. However, the reorganization of higher education institutions did not take into account this objective, and therefore some of the same specialties are distributed to several higher education institutions concentrated in the municipality of Chisinau.

As in the previous years, it is stated that there are non-compliances in the recognition of the right of administrator of the Public Property Agency (PPA) over the lands managed by the MER and the founded institutions. Thus, the list of public property of the state under the PPA’s administration, approved throughout the Government’s Decision no. 161/2019, is not updated. Thus:

  • 14 publicly owned lands of the Republic of Moldova, with a total area of ​​23.6 acres, managed by the MER and 10 founded institutions, are not found in the mentioned decision;
  • 16 plots of land with a total area of ​​13.9 acres, reported by 9 subordinate institutions according to the Real Estate Register, are owned by local public authorities;
  • 43 lands with a total area of ​​42.6 acres, reported by 24 subordinate institutions and not included in the decision given according to the Real Estate Register, are owned by local public authorities, although they are related to state-owned public buildings managed by the Ministry.

The MER has assets that are not necessary in its activity, such as capital investments worth 15.4 million lei made in the construction of 14 educational institutions in different localities of the Republic of Moldova made in the 1990s, the need to complete which fell through and which were to be transferred to the management of local public authorities. We mention that following the checks carried out in the field, 12 unfinished constructions attest to a high degree of damage/ruin, and in two cases even the lack of constructions.

The lack of legal provisions and the repeal in 2013 of the Government’s Decision no. 875/1999 regarding unfinished construction objects have created impediments in undertaking measures by the MER regarding the transmission of unfinished construction objects from the central public authority to the local public authority. More than that, some local authorities refuse to take these goods on their balance sheet.

Another aspect mentioned and which was reiterated in the previous audit reports refers to the need to adjust the Methodology of budgetary financing of public higher education institutions approved throughout the Government’s Decision no. 343 from 10.06.2020, as well as establishing the mechanism for reporting budget allocations by type of financing (standard and compensatory financing). According to point 5 of the mentioned methodology, the transfer of the volume of allocations from the state budget is carried out based on the number of equivalent students taken into account on October 1 of the previous budget year, but not in accordance with the actual number of trained students and as a result, based on the calculations made by the auditor, it was found that the standard financing approved by the MER for 2022 was about 8.1 million lei higher.

The MER did not undertake measures for the development and approval of the Methodology for restitution of training expenses to the state budget, to ensure the reimbursement to the state budget of the expenses incurred for the training of students who refused the mandatory placement in the field of work and those who have been expelled.

Thus, the state bears considerable expenses for the training of pupils/students who later abandon their studies or were expelled, which leads to the bearing of inefficient expenses from the budget. It should be noted that, according to the data presented by the educational institutions, in 2022 5160 people were expelled, and the expenses borne by the state for their training, just for one year of studies (without a scholarship), assessed by the audit, amount to approximately 100.2 million lei.

At the same time, it was found that 6 institutions took some actions to return the money, collecting funds in the state budget in the amount of 0.3 million lei.

Also, the MER did not revise the nomenclature of services and the amount of tariffs for services provided by post-secondary and non-tertiary vocational technical education institutions. Thus, study fees do not correspond to the real cost, they vary from 3.6 thousand lei to 8.5 thousand lei per institution, trade/profession, while the cost per pupil financed by the budget is 18.5 thousand lei for secondary technical vocational education and 27.3 thousand lei for post-secondary technical vocational education.

We mention that the MER does not have leverage to verify the correctness of the use of the funds granted for certain sports and youth activities, and the branch management does not thoroughly check the reports presented by public associations, which include several non-compliances, such as:

  1. in some supporting documents, the indicated period does not correspond to the period of sports activities;
  2. the confirmation documents do not contain the list of people who benefited from the meal, nor is there the cost for breakfast, lunch or dinner; the actual number of participants in the event and the number of people staying;
  3. for some public associations, undocumented transport expenses in the amount of 33.5 thousand lei were accepted for payment.

It should be noted that the expenses reported by some public associations in the Declaration on income tax for non-commercial organizations and those reported to the MER are lower. Thus, in 2022, 3.1 million lei were reported as expenses by 4 associations and 2 sports federations, 10.86 million lei less than the expenses reported to the MER.

Finally, the Court of Accounts mentioned that during the audit the Ministry of Education and Research made financial-accounting corrections in the amount of 520.32 million lei.

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