Good governance is more than just publishing information on official websites
In April this year, during the state of emergency, some local public authorities (APL) bought cars worth hundreds of thousands of lei.
In April this year, during the state of emergency, some local public authorities (LPAs) bought cars worth hundreds of thousands of lei. While local elected officials argue that the purchases were planned before the state of emergency, experts in the field of transparency in decision-making believe that LPAs must manage the needs of their localities properly. At the same time, the experts recommend that any decision should go through the three levels of interaction between LPAs and citizens: information, consultation and active participation of taxpayers in the decision-making process. On 17 March 2020, a 60-day state of emergency was declared in the Republic of Moldova due to the rapid spread of a new type of coronavirus (COVID-19). Even in times of crisis, some public authorities have not given up on costly procurement. Thus, on 26 March 2020, the local public authorities of Brânza village, Cahul district, decided to buy a car worth 340 thousand lei. The purchase contract was signed after the state of emergency was declared. Asked whether this purchase was urgently needed these days, the mayor of the village, Leonid Catera, said that the local elected representatives of Brânza had voted for the purchase of the car back in February, when the Coronavirus infection had not yet reached Moldova. Viorel Pîrvan, an expert in the field of transparency in the decision-making process, believes that during the state of emergency, when the authorities must manage public money rationally and according to the concrete needs of this period, the local council could review its decision and prioritise the purchase of goods or services. The mayor of Brânza, however, says that the car at the town hall is old and that the means of transport is necessary for the locality: "I am in my fourth term of office and I have never bought a car". Around 600 thousand lei for a district president's car A local public authority in the north of the republic has also bought an expensive car in times of crisis. On 6 April 2020, the Ocnitsa District Council signed a purchase contract, buying a car worth over 592 thousand lei for the district president. Iurie Plopa, the president of Ocnita district, said that the purchase of the car was planned since last year, and this car was necessary because the car park of the District Council has 3 old cars. Solving community problems depends on the quality of LPA management Diana Ranga-Enachi, an expert in public procurement, reminds the authorities that when approving any decision, they must take into account the three levels of interaction between LPAs and citizens: information, consultation and active participation of taxpayers. She points out that solving community problems depends not only on the amount of financial resources available, but also on the quality of LPA management, and mayors need to know how to involve citizens in the local governance process. "In their work, they must not only rely on compliance with laws and rules, but also be transparent and honest. By following the principles of good governance, including ensuring transparency, efficiency and citizens' involvement in decision-making, local authorities can gain people's commitment and trust. Citizens who trust that the local authority is transparent and uses the local budget efficiently will be more likely to contribute to local initiatives, honour their tax obligations and thus contribute to increasing local budget revenues," says Diana Ranga-Enachi. She points out that good governance is not just about publishing information on a website, such as a budget plan, a draft decision or a job advertisement, but about the whole process of local administration. Lilia Zaharia