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29 September 2020

The Auditor General and the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Kosovo attended the public debate on oversight of municipal revenues and expenditures

debati ne vushtrri

As part of the three-lateral project among the National Audit Office, the Government of the Netherlands and BIRN Kosova, a debate on “The Role of National Audit Office and Citizens in Oversight of Municipal Revenues and Expenditures” was held today in Municipality of Vushtrria aiming to promote the public oversight to increase institutional transparency and accountability.

On this occasion, the Auditor General of the Republic of Kosovo, Besnik Osmani, stated that the budget organisations should consider the auditing as a useful process and a strong foundation to upgrade their financial management, to ensure their internal controls and to improve their performance.

The Auditor General pointed out that implementation of recommendations has generally improved although it is not satisfactory yet particularly in local level. “We keep encouraging the heads of public institutions to increase the institutional engagement for implementation of audit recommendations as that results in better governance and more quality services to citizens. Implementation of audit recommendations marked a slight increase over the last years, but the level of implementation is not satisfactory yet”, Osmani said.

In the audit report for 2019, the Municipality of Vushtrria was given the unmodified opinion with emphasis of matter, and it was given 19 recommendations. The municipality submitted the action plan for implementation of recommendations, whereas the National Audit Office will monitor the implementation as per the plan for the 2020 audit.

The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Kosovo, Carin Lobbezo, the Mayor of Vushtrria, Xhafer Tahiri, Editor-in-Chief of BIRN Kosovo, Visar Prebreza, and councillors of municipality also participated in this debate.

The Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Kosovo, Carin Lobbezo, said that the purpose of this project is to support the Office of Auditor General in carrying out its mission, and to ensure that money in Kosovo is spent based on fair decisions and to the benefit of citizens. “Our goal is to increase transparency, accountability to all Kosovars at any level. This increases trust on institutions and makes the citizens feel that institutions are working for them. This is a hard journey but it is important to keep working on it. It is significant to Kosovo in general and it plays a great role on Kosovo’s journey towards EU integration. Therefore, I am proud of having provided this support because the rule of law, transparency, accountability are important to all stakeholders and to Kosovo citizens, and this project has a very important role in this regard”, Lobezzo said adding that Kosovo and the Netherlands have been working a lot together over the last two decades and they are good friends.

On the other hand, the Mayor of Vushtrri, Xhafer Tahiri, said that he considers the findings of the Auditor General as an opportunity to improve the practices on public money management. He expressed his willingness to implement the recommendations from the audit report of 2019. “I admit that it has not been worked enough on addressing the recommendations of 2018 audit report. As far as the implementation of internal audit recommendations is concerned we are in a better position compared to external audit ones. One of the reasons for lagging is related to some structural problems I mentioned under misclassification, planning and management”, Tahiri stated.

Meanwhile, the Editor-in-Chief of BIRN Kosovo, Visar Prebreza, said that every mayor or head of institution should consider the audit report as a guideline for his/her activities and vision on how to address all violations. He added that as far as budget execution on capital investments during the first half of the year is concerned, the Municipality of Vushtrri is in good position. However, according to Prebreza, one of the concerning issues was the very low execution of subsidies. Procurement is also in poor position and it requires immediate action for improvement. Prebreza said that municipality of Vushtrria is not in good position in terms of implementation of auditor’s recommendations, while in order to make progress in this area, it needs to create a good plan.