Coronavirus and Budget – Three Measures for Trust and Accountability

Reports on donations should be transparent, detailed and regular

There is no reason that emergency situation should be an excuse for the lack of transparency. On the contrary, in this period the Government must work additionally on strengthening citizens trust and, if it is necessary, implement new practices such as transparency of donor funds, which will not slow down nor prevent justified urgent procedures and procurement.

Therefore, we urge National Coordination Body for Communicable Diseases to implement tracking system of donations and spending of funds from single account opened for this purpose. It is important that citizens and business organisations, who donate or plan to do so, have trust in distribution of their money and timely information on its spending. Over 2 million euros has been raised for 5 days on giro account. By reporting this information, the first step has been made, but the system must be established for daily, detailed, tabulated reporting on cash flow, and more importantly, the expenditures from this line. That is the least that the Government can do to thank those who donated, as well as to encourage future donators.

First step, but not enough in the long term. Information of the Government on the balance of account.

Limit irrational and discretionary spending

It is not enough that the Government warns budget users to be responsible and to save money. It is necessary that the Ministry of Finance take the measures of savings and strict control of budget funds. Also, in the preparation of imminent budget rebalance, it is necessary to do a detailed analysis of the discretionary budget lines and give up on any unnecessary expenditures. Not only to find resources for health system, social support and stabilisation efforts, but because of sustainability of public finances during the course of this year and capabilities of the state to service its obligations.

Because of the circumstances and the measures which came into effect, it is expected that the filling of the budget will not be as planned, and neither the budget plan will be fulfilled as voted in December. However, in the state budget, by withdrawals or radical reduction of non-productive and discretionary lines of the current budget, necessary funds can be freed for maintenance of the health system, and for the support of citizens and economy.

We are reminding that for the 2020, beside current budget reserve of 20 million, planned expenditures of total 52 million on budget lines, for which we, even without pandemic and emergency measures, argued that they should be radically reduced firstly, and then its implementation should be strictly controlled. Among them are:

      • Jubilee awards – 0,4 million
      • Business trips – 5,4 million
      • Representatives – 0,5 million
      • Expenditures on contract for services – 8,5 million
      • Other charges – 11,7 million
      • Expenditures for supplies – 1,03 million
      • Other services – 14,8 million
      • Other – 9,3 million
It is the discretionary costs whose existence on this scale is not justified even under normal circumstances. Our research shows that, especially on lines classified as „other“, the discretionary costs are generally justified through gifts, business trips, contract for services and similar.

Control the money spent in public enterprises

It is especially important that the Government stopped the occurrence of donations within public sector, where some of the ministries and authorities started donating funds, which is the same as transfer money from one of your own pocket to the other. However, on the same way that the state budget is single so it does not experience specific donations from one end to the other, it should be single and expanded on public sector which includes public enterprises and municipalities.

Monteput donated twice in the opposite manner of the conclusions of the Government

Despite the conclusions of the Government to centralise donations and to prohibit reception of donations by the single part of the health system, the practice continues as public enterprises donate funds and equipment to particular medical and other institutions.

The Government must, through their representatives in 40 enterprises which she established or is majority owner, effectively control spending, discretionary and unnecessary costs and donations. This way we are urging the Government to prevent the enterprises to decide on donations and sponsorships in a way like this and secure that all „free“ funds shall be contributed to the account of the National Coordination Body with full prohibition of all discretionary costs.

 

Text is originally published in daily newspaper „Vijesti“

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