The World Youth Day (WYD) contracts are already being analyzed by the Court of Auditors (TdC) as they reach the institution chaired by José Tavares. The president of the institution had already assumed that the court would be “attentive” to WYD, so it is not excluded that this file be subject to an audit after the end of the event.
José Tavares’ warnings were made on January 30, in Lisbon, on the sidelines of a conference on public procurement. At the time, the president of the TdC said that the Court would be “attentive” to the WYD process, which was under controversy at the time due to news that reported high public expenses with the work on the stage-altar, made through direct agreement.
When the TdC was contacted, an official source explained that “the Court of Auditors receives, within 10 days after its conclusion, under the terms of the law, the contracts concluded within the scope of the World Youth Day for the purposes of concurrent and successive inspection”, adding that “the non-remittance of these contracts generates their ineffectiveness”.
“In this context, the formation and execution of such contracts is being controlled by the Court”, he reinforces. which allows the advisory judges to observe in real time the expenses associated with WYD.
On that date, José Tavares explained that “under the terms of the law, the contracts that are concluded within the scope of the World Youth Day are sent to the Court of Auditors for the purposes of concurrent supervision, under penalty of not producing effects”.
That is, even when there is a waiver of a prior visa – which was the case with the stage-altar -, the judges have access to the contracts. And what is the access to this information for? Judges can carry out concurrent inspection – which is already happening – and then they can also choose to proceed with an audit.
In deciding whether or not to proceed with an audit, several factors may weigh. First: the judges are governed by an annual plan of activities, but this is flexible enough to accommodate the monitoring of new issues that arise in the meantime.
Second, judges look to a set of criteria to prioritize their work. The main criterion will be the financial importance of the topic, but the judges also take into account the social criterion – linked to topics that society attaches particular importance to.
The challenge to WYD expenses – the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, even asked for an altar suitable for times of crisis – led the Mayor of Lisbon, Carlos Moedas, to announce a 30% cut in the cost stage-altar, going from 4.2 million euros to 2.9 million euros.
An article included in the State Budget (OE) for 2023, and which was voted in favor of the PS and the PSD, admits several exceptions to the rules of public procurement in expenses related to the event. The most notable is the possibility of resorting to direct adjustments when values are at stake which, according to the usual rules, would oblige the State or local authorities to invite more than one company: above 20 thousand euros in the case of the acquisition of services and above 30 thousand for the works.
Thanks to this prerogative, contracts worth millions of euros have been awarded in direct award mode. The exception rules also include the waiver of prior inspection by the Court of Auditors. On the other hand, these expenses and borrowing costs do not count towards the borrowing limits of municipalities. The exception regime is all the more controversial due to the fact that WYD was postponed by a year, due to the pandemic, which meant more preparation time.