In exercise of the legally attributed functions, of advising and formulating proposals and recommendations in matters of integrity, public ethics and prevention of corruption, the Director of the Valencian Anti-Fraud Agency has issued a resolution, dated March 27, which incorporates a set of reflections on the emergency measures adopted to date, given the state of alarm declared by the COVID-19 pandemic and its management.
Every crisis, no matter how devastating it may be (such as the one that, unfortunately, we are experiencing with the expansion of the international pandemic known as COVID-19 “coronavirus”) provides opportunities for action and learning that help prevent its recurrence or minimize its consequences. However, it is also very likely that corrupt behaviors to obtain profits from this situation will increase. Therefore, it is essential to maintain the appropriate procedures and methods that allow its detection and control.
Public money must reach the people and entities that really need it soon and this requires a rapid and transparent management of the procedures that should not be an obstacle so that we also take all the measures at our disposal to minimize incidents that may cause risks. of corruption.
In this regard, it is recalled that the Council of Europe has declared that essential protections of the rule of law, parliamentary oversight, independent judicial control and effective domestic remedies, must be maintained even during a state of emergency.
In the face of exceptional measures that put high amounts of public funds at stake, as well as the necessary management with the maximum speed and transparency, an efficient control must be added (especially internal, within each Administration). Consequently, it is appreciated that the previous controls should have been maintained and the reasons for decisions already taken regarding the replacement of the intervening function by permanent financial control is not understood.
The recommendation states that, in the situation of a state of alarm, the measures to be adopted must be those that are indispensable and must be applied in a proportionate manner. It is a priority that emergency powers are exercised only for the purposes for which they were granted. Likewise, political decisions and the ways of carrying them out must be transparent and visible to all citizens, in order to be accountable for this management.
Specifically, the reflections on this recommendation focus on exceptional measures of an economic nature issued until March 27 and, very especially, to those whose management corresponds mainly to local entities. With them, the aim is to provide suggestions to the Community’s public servants that allow their management with maximum efficiency and, in turn, legal certainty. Thus, in accordance with the regulatory framework and the interpretive instructions formulated, the recommendation incorporates a set of proposals on the processing of grants, issues related to public procurement and on the importance of the current context of defining essential services, with a reminder end of adopting also precautions against the risk of cyberattacks.
The recommendation highlights that the professionalism and good work of the public servants of the whole public sector of the Valencian Community, is now of vital importance and responsibility. It is essential that we actively participate, in a creative and innovative way, in the difficult decision-making processes and in the subsequent management of these measures, for the real and effective achievement of the intended objectives with the approved regulations, actively helping to manage the policies public measures and the necessary measures to mitigate the health, social and economic crisis but, it is insisted, without renouncing the due controls, deterrents from irregularities constituting fraud and / or corruption.
Finally, it is considered that, now more than ever, all Public Administrations must rise to the occasion, communicating, coordinating among ourselves to be able to give agile responses to the needs of our Community, helping each other generously, sharing our knowledge. and reciprocal experiences on the way we apply and control measures to contain and mitigate the perverse effects of COVID-19.
In this sense, it is indicated that consultations, suggestions or experiences that are carried out in public entities can be formulated and it is recalled that the Agency has fully operational the complaints box, for those who observe irregularities contrary to the general interest.
Valencia, March 30 of 2020.