The Court of Auditors gave a prior visa to the first public service contract concluded between the Portuguese State and CP, but leaves several alerts for the future.
According to the document, which Jornal Económico had access to, after targeting the contract submitted by the Ministry of Infrastructure to prior inspection, the Court of Auditors recommends that “in future procedures when requesting the granting of visas to contracts that require proof authorization for multi-annual expenditure (…), only promote the granting of a visa after this authorization has been approved and it has been published (as a condition of its effectiveness), together with the initial application with the respective evidence (…) ”.
Indeed, this proof of authorization for multi-annual expenditure was not initially presented in the documentation sent by the Ministry of Infrastructure to the Court of Auditors.
And the institution chaired by Vítor Manuel da Silva Caldeira warns that “the problem related to the economic and financial risks related to the execution of the contract and the specific situation of the CP is a matter that involves particular responsibilities of the shareholder State whose scrutiny does not integrate the object and scope of the process of prior inspection of the public service contract (the entity inspected in this case is not the CP that appears here as a mere contractor), although the control and monitoring system for the execution of the contract by the CP is open to question by the TdC in the within the scope of other legal functions of the Court, as well as in general all dimensions related to the economy, effectiveness and efficiency of the public service contract (…) ”.
“In the context of concomitant and successive inspection, the relationships underlying the contractual instruments can be the subject of significantly more extensive inquiries, through evidential initiatives developed with the TdC's own resources”, adds the institution, referring to a table complemented by the allocation of human resources and materials for these audits “with a considerably broader functional spectrum than that of prior inspection”.
For this reason, the Court of Auditors notes that “the consideration of the eventual and supervening concomitant and / or successive inspection will be decided elsewhere, within the scope of the 2nd Section (…)”.
“The non-identification of illegalities for the purpose of refusing a visa (and exclusively for that purpose), is independent of supervening inquiries in terms of decisions with financial impact, control of public spending and compliance with the legal duties of economy, effectiveness and efficiency, of effectiveness of the fulfillment of the duties of the public entity (especially when there is a set of complex variables that need scrutiny,
for example, in order to define the public service duties assumed by the contractor and the respective control by the State, including the specific duties of the State in relation to public business entities) ”, points out the document of the Court of Auditors.
The same document adds that, “in this way, the granting of a visa to the contract subject to prior inspection does not prevent the underlying factuality and the relationships involved in the contractual instrument from being the object of any assessment within the scope of the competent TdC in the area of inspection. concomitant and successive ”.
The granting of the Court of Auditors' prior visa to the CP public service contract was commented yesterday by the Minister of Infrastructure and Housing.
“It was a great victory for CP and a great victory for the national railway. For the first time in the history of this company, the State is going to relate in a transparent, predictable and rigorous way with its company, something that has not happened until now ”, underlined Pedro Nuno Santos during a hearing of the Parliamentary Committee on Economics, Public Works and Innovation, which took place yesterday in the Assembly of the Republic.
In the minister's view, "CP is, unfortunately, a company with a very large accumulated debt level, precisely because the State did not finance CP properly".
“And the public service contract is not any favor that will be given to CP, it is simply that we pay for the public service that the State requires that CP provides. It is just like when you make a concession to a private individual. We contract a service with them and pay. Something that was not done with CP. And the CP had to accumulate debt after debt, after debt, after debt, not because it is a bottomless pit for the country, but because the country, the State did not pay CP what was due to CP for the service that the State required CP to do, ”explained Pedro Nuno Santos.
The Minister of Infrastructure concluded that "the public service contract, finally, will bring honesty and seriousness [in the relationship] that the State has with this company", reaffirming that "it was a great victory".