Two NGOs – Association for Efficient and Responsible Governance (AGER) and the Journalistic Investigations Center (JIC) launched on Wednesday, September 16, the campaign for monitoring public procurements “Public Budget is My Money Too!” The project is financed by the European Union and co-financed by the National Endowment for Democracy.
During the campaign, public procurements within 30 contracting authorities throughout the country will be monitored. Twenty of them will be outside of Chisinau and will be monitored by local NGOs. NGOs will conduct advcacy campaigns to encourage citizens to watch the way procurement from public money is carried out and to make pressure on the authorities to ensure transparency in the procurement process.
At the same time, a group of journalists will conduct journalistic investigations on corruption schemes, conflicts of interest, cases of traffic of influence, favoritism and other irregularities detected in the procurement process.
At the Project’s launching Conference the representatives of the European Union Delegation in Chisinau, the Public Procurement Agency, the Court of Accounts, the Anticorruption Prosecution Office, National Anticorruption Center, and Association of Independent Press held presentations.
The participants discussed the current context of public procurement in Moldova, the Court of Accounts findings on procurement, the difficulties in detecting and sanctioning cases of fraud in public procurement, as well as investigating corruption in this area. One of the sessions of the event was treserved for discussions about the role of investigative jurnalists in monitoring of the use of public money, as well as the experience of civil society in this area.
According to Cornelia Cozonac, president of Journalistic Investigations Center, the civil society and journalists should be more actively involved in monitoring the management of public money, so that the relevant authorities ensure a maximum transparency and fairness.
“The Court of Accounts has repeatedly highlighted the serious problems in the procurement process. However, the court decisions have a recommendation character. The investigation of frauds are the discretion of competent bodies,” Cornelia Cozonac noted.
Olesea Stamate, the president of the Association for Efficient and Responsible Governance, said that the project aims enhance civic activism and to monitor public funds’ spending.
“In the last few years we noticed a number of serious investigations conducted by investigation journalists, unfortunately, the actions of law enforcement agencies are noticed more rarely. Civil society needs to move from the stage of “findings/recommendations” to the step of exerting pressure on the responsible bodies, through efficient advocacy campaigns so that they react to these findings by initiating criminal proceedings and subsequent punishment of persons that are guilty of improper use of Our Money”, Olesea Stamate concluded.
The campaign “Public Budget is My Money Too!” started on April 1, 2015 and will last until March 31, 2017.