INPO and KLI: Public procurement “vindicated” by the municipal officials, justice to act against corrupt offenses

INPO and KLI: Public procurement “vindicated” by the municipal officials, justice to act against corrupt offenses

INPO and KLI: Public procurement “vindicated” by the municipal officials, justice to act against corrupt offenses

Pristina, November 19 – Initiative for Progress (INPO) and Kosovo Law Institute (KLI), within the project “Demand for Justice: Strengthening access to justice in Kosovo”, by the support US Department – International Narcotics Bureau and Law Enforcement Matters (INL), on Tuesday held roundtable with the topic “Procurement “synonym of corruption”.

INPO and KLI during this roundtable will present the report “Vindicate procurement” in the municipalities of Kosovo: Report of public procurement monitoring in the municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo”, as result of monitoring and research of 160 activities of public procurement monitored in all municipalities of the Republic of Kosovo, where in each municipality are monitored at least four (4) contracts.

Executive director of the INPO, Albulena Nrecaj, said that findings of the report show that integrity of process of public procurement in the municipalities of Kosovo continue to be vulnerable. “Despite the fact that legislation in force in the public procurement field meets acceptable standards to develop activities of public procurement, based on principles of good governance, these principles are continuously violated in practice, including transparency, accountability, non-discrimination and integrity”.

Nrecaj emphasized that municipalities continue to have serious problems on planning assessments of public contracts, which result with the conclusion of public contracts that exceed the values of planed amounts with municipal budget. “Officials of public procurement within municipalities, in many cases monitored, act in violation with the Law on Public Procurement regarding deadlines for tender, which shorten them without providing solid reasoning, as required by law. Also, they continue to apply restrictive/discriminatory criteria, which create disparity between economic operators interested for tender and create real possibilities for development of corrupt offenses”.

Among other things, Nrecaj raised one of the research findings, which relates to the conclusion of public contracts by the municipalities with the NGO’s to provide services. According to her, Law on public procurement in force recognizes NGO’s as economic operators, but article 132/A of this law, stipulate that Government with the sublegal act defines rules, standards and contracting procedures of public services for the civil society organizations. “INPO has found that in Kosovo there is no adequate legislation, which regulates standards and procedures for contracting NGO’s for providing public services by the municipalities, ministries, or independent agencies. The government so far did not issue any sublegal act that regulates this field.”

Nrecaj said that INPO found that some municipalities have signed contracts for services with the NGO’s for huge amount, through instrument of public procurement. Within monitoring, four activities of procurement are researched, which have resulted with the signature of public contracts for services with NGO’s that offer health services. In none of these activities was not marked that contraction of services is planned to be by the NGO’s. “INPO assesses that respective municipalities while leading procedures to contract medical and ambulant services by the NGO’s have acted in violation with the legal basis. Based on research, INPO raises suspicions that those contracts are used to employ medical staff at the Family Medicine Centers of Municipalities”.

During this year INPO and KLI have monitored 23 court hearings, where are included nine (9) cases in which are charged for corruption, officials of public procurement of the local and central institutions level. “Characteristic of these cases is that during this year, judges have announced acquittal judgments in five cases, whereas in four other cases court hearings are continuing. So, still there is no official of public procurement charged for corruption and sentenced with effective imprisonment during this year”, said Nrecaj. She emphasized that findings show that in municipality level regarding committing of criminal offenses in the field of public procurement during this year are facing with court proceedings. Director of Procurement Office in Gjilan, Lipjan and Prizren as well as Mayor of Municipality of Istog, Haki Rugova. The latter, is charged of giving the tender to his brother, enabling him to sign the contract through proceedings of public procurement, a contract, he had personally signed.

Executive Director of the KLI, Ehat Miftaraj, said that police investigators of economic crimes, prosecutors and judges should be profiled in the field of public procurement, to enable investigations, prosecution and professional judgments to reveal criminal activities carried out through public procurement. “Prosecution policy should be advanced to develop fair investigations and based on law, as judges should judge fair these cases and in the cases when the accused are found guilty in the field of public procurement, to impose adequate sentences through which the purpose of sentence is achieved.”

Head of the Regulative Commission of Public Procurement (RCPC), Osman Vishaj, assessed the content of the report, with whose findings and recommendations were agreed, emphasizing that the RCPC within its mandate will work in addressing raised issues.

Head of the Public Procurement Collegium, Zeke Bardhaj, said that identified problems in relation to public procurement stand and there are limited capacities of staff in public procurement, which due to overload, often make numerous mistakes in proceedings.

Representative of Ministry of Local Administration, Ylli Valla, said that this ministry has worked and is in the process of many works, which will increase transparency and accountability of municipalities.

Director of Economic Crimes in the Kosovo Police, Bashkim Spahiu, said that police investigators have treated and have in process a number of cases related to allegations for corruption in public procurement. Within this Directorate, Spahiu said that these cases are treated seriously, whereas investigations for these cases are led by prosecutors in accordance with the legal mandate.

Participant in this roundtable were representatives of procurement offices in municipalities, experts of public procurement, representatives from civil society, representative of USAID and media.

Find attached the report Vindicated procurement in the municipalities of Kosovo.