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26 April 2019

The Debate over the Representation Expenses Receives Public’s Attention

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The National Audit Office, in its audit reports, has consistently made recommendations regarding the economic use of public funds for the purposes of representation. These recommendations are not being implemented effectively.

The Auditor General of Kosovo, Mr. Besnik Osmani participated in the debate organised by BIRN with the participation of representatives from the Ministry of Local Government Administration, Association of Kosovo Municipalities and Civil Society Organizations and the media. On this occasion, the results of the analyses carried out by BIRN on the use of the budget for the expenditures on beverages and food and on representation were published.

The Auditor General has presented activities undertaken to audit the planning and use of public funds for representation purposes. Mr. Osmani has underlined that food and beverage expenses have exceeded the 5% threshold for spending on goods and services and that this phenomenon should be stopped. This participation in the budget structure is high and is not I line with the principle of economy. During 2018, municipalities, on behalf of official lunches in the country and abroad, around €3.5 million were spent on food and beverages, and half of this amount was spent only by the Municipality of Prishtina.

During the presentation, the Auditor General underlined that it was equally important to ensure adequate funds are used in order to accurately identify and report the purposes of the beverage and food supply. In order to differentiate the fulfilment of the competencies of municipalities in relation to other representation expenses and to ensure value for money, the supply of these goods and services should be done through a transparent and competitive process.

BIRN representatives have presented the results of the research and highlighted the inability of many institutions to access official documents which have only managed to make them available after final court decisions. The research has shown that the documentation related to these expenditures is very poor and does not disclose information on the purposes of using these funds.

The debate has been going on by municipal representatives and focused on increasing transparency but also highlighting the need for these categories of expenditures as each of the municipalities has their own jubilee activities which affect the increase of these expenditures.

Civil society representatives have expressed the need to disclose information to the public for more information on the content of these expenditures and to prohibit their use on luxury items.

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