ROMANIAN ANTI-FRAUD DEPARTMENT - WORTHLESS FOR THE GOVERNMENT DURING CRISIS?
Transparency International Romania expresses its deep concern with regard to the adoption of the Government Emergency Ordinance No. 3 on the 11th of February 2009, which modifies the legislation concerning the organising and functioning of the Romanian Anti-Fraud Department– DLAF, the contact institution for the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) in Romania.
According to the new legislative provisions, the Romanian Anti-Fraud Department passes from the structures of the Prime Ministers’ Office within the working apparatus of the Government, becoming directly subordinated to the prime minister and under the coordination of the vice-premier.
The personnel of the DLAF are to be appointed exclusively on the basis of the trust of the Prime-Minister, with the advice of the Vice-Premier, under the conditions of signing a loyalty-based engagement. The withdrawal of trust by the Prime-Minister, with the advice of the Vice-Premier, has as a consequence the recall of the appointment, as well as the dismissal or the turn out of office or the cancellation of the labour contract. In such conditions, the entire personnel: the controllers, the inspectors, as well as the technical management of the institution, becomes profoundly dependent of the political will and could be politically influenced. Also, the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 3/2009 expressly abrogates the provisions of the Government Emergency Ordinance no. 49/2005, eliminating thus the stipulations according to which the chief of the Department shall not request nor receive instructions from no authority, institution or person in developing its operational attributions, as well as the provisions regarding the mandatory approval for the control acts by the Chief of the Department.
Under such circumstances, Transparency International Romania draws attention upon the severe prejudices brought upon the independence of the DLAF, even though this is emphatically claimed strictly in decorative and declarative manner within the Article VIII para. 7, the new legislative modifications are transforming the Department in an annex of the General Secretariat of the Government and opens the path towards unwarrantable interferences within the activity of the institution that coordinates the fight against-fraud. Approving these measures in the very temporal vicinity of the Intermediary Report of the European Commission regarding the judicial reform and the fight against corruption, in which the lack of progress on behalf of Romania was clearly stated, transmits an extremely negative message to Brussels on behalf of the Romanian Government, and may lead to extremely severe consequences from the perspective of this year’s summer Country Report. We remind the fact that Bulgaria received sanctions that suspended some structural funds.
Therefore Transparency International Romania considers that the prevention and the fight against the illicit facts that affect the financial interests of the European Union, based on the operative activity and on the anti-fraud coordination system of the DLAF, is severely affected, having in mind that the DLAF has been one of the most appreciated structures for protecting the financial interests of the EU within the member states.
Within this context, Transparency International Romania requests that the Romanian Government recalls of the EO no. 3/2009 and, if a need for reorganizing the activity of the Department is identified, this should be made without undermining the independence of the DLAF.
Closely following the Absorption! Absorption! Absorption! slogan, there is no accident that the same day the Bucharest authorities proposed the dissolution of the National Commission for the Solving of Petitions in the public procurement area, and “personalised” the Government Control Department under the leadership of a politically appointed Secretary General.