An audit detects irregularities in the Costa Brava water consortium
An audit has detected accounting and management irregularities in the Consortium of the Costa Brava (CCB), which is responsible for water supply in the 27 municipalities of the Girona coast. The report analyzes the 2014 accounts. Not only of the consortium – where the Diputación is present – but also of the two companies that hang from it, and that have mixed capital.
The audit, which has been made public by the CUP , questions whether the consortium awarded contracts without public tender. In addition, it concludes that there are practices that favor the private part of companies. For example, they do not pay rent or they have not contributed amounts that they had committed to pay. Among these, a loan of 3 MEUR, 250,000 euros for non-refundable investments or up to 1.5 MEUR to finance works.
The deputy of the CUP, Lluc Salellas, demands immediate resolution of the irregularities and asks the Diputación to purge responsibilities.
The CUP has once again put water management in the spotlight. This time, with the Consortium of the Costa Brava, the entity formed by the Diputación de Girona and 27 coastal coastal municipalities. The training has made public an internal audit that oversees the 2014 accounts. The report analyzes the accounts of the entity, but also those of the two mixed capital companies where the Consortium has a stake. And that, in fact, they were born through him.
The first is the Mixed Company d’Aigües de la Costa Brava SA (EMACBSA). This company, which has a private partner, is responsible for purifying wastewater and maintaining the sanitation systems of the Consortium. The second one is ABASTEM in Alta Costa Brava Empresa Mixta SA (ABASTEM). A firm that manages the service in high, carries out works and where they have participation private Aqualia and Sorea.
The audit passes the scalpel by the budgets, contracts and documentation of 2014. And concludes that, throughout that year, up to 26 breaches were carried out. Some of them, for example, those related to personnel, are the result of administrative errors or withholdings of IRPF that were not carried out. But there are others – and this is where the CUP puts the focus – that go directly into contractual and accounting issues. Above all, those that refer to the relationship between the Consortium and the two mixed companies that provide services to it.
No budget or contest
From the outset, the audit highlights that the cost of the water sanitation service that EMACBSA invoiced to the consortium (in total, 10.52 MEUR) was made without a prior budget. In addition, apart from that, the report also questions how the works were paid. According to the contract, EMACBSA assumed the maintenance and maintenance costs of the network. And the Consortium, for its part, paid for improvements and extensions.
However, as reflected in the audit, that year there were up to 53 works classified as ‘improvements’, which had a cost of 724,368.32 euros (and, therefore, fully paid the CCB). But as the auditors indicate, nowhere does it say if these jobs were really for improvement – and therefore, they were in charge of the consortium – or they corresponded to maintenance – and therefore, they had to be paid by EMACBSA.
In relation to this company, the audit also calls into question that the contracting system for the works was the most appropriate, and asks why some did not go out to public tender. In addition, the report emphasizes that “recurrent services are processed as in minor contracts, a procedure that can not be the most agreeable in terms of public contracting.”
Up to 620% more benefits
As for ABASTEM, the audit again highlights irregularities that it had already encountered with the other joint venture. In this case, the firm billed the Consortium 312,433.65 euros for improvement works. And as it had also happened with EMACBSA, it does not appear anywhere if this was really the typology of the work (or it was about maintenance work).
In addition, the audit shows that, throughout 2014, the revenues and expenses budgeted by ABASTEM present “very significant increases” with respect to what was collected by the project that was submitted to qualify for the service. And that in no case, “would be justified by the increases in the CPI”. In fact, the report comes to detect deviations of up to 620% with net benefits. On the project, they had been calculated at 28,000 euros. And at the close of 2014, they were more than 200,000.
The audit also reveals that there are contracts to sign on certain services and that the private party, as initially collected, should have financed works included in the Service Improvement Master Plan, contributing up to 1.5 MEUR. An amount that was set in 2009, when ABASTEM was born, and that five years later had not been paid. “This contribution from the private partner has not been made since the investments planned in the Master Plan have not materialized,” the report states.
Neither rent nor loan
Among the irregularities detected within the CCB and the two joint ventures, it also appears that none of the private partners of EMACBSA or ABASTEM pay rent for the premises they use. And that there are agreements that the private party has not complied with either. For example, EMACBSA had to provide a loan of 3 MEUR three months after the company was incorporated, which would be returned in ten years. Well, in 2014, eight years after EMACBSA was created, “this loan has not been provided,” the report indicates.
In addition, the private partner of the firm also committed to allocate 250,000 euros to fund lost for improvements and replacements. “These investments do not show that they have been carried out,” says the audit.
The results of the audit, to which the Consortium did not present allegations, passed through the plenary session of the Provincial Council of Girona in September. The CUP, however, has decided to make it public now to highlight “the lack of political will of the Diputación at the time of wanting to explain to the public the functioning and management of its dependent entities”. The critical formation of the audit that appears to benefit the private part of the companies, and its deputy Lluc Salellas has already asked to be resolved “immediately detected irregularities.”
The CUP, however, does not stay here. Salellas asks the County Council to purge “those responsible for this malpractice.” In addition, Salellas remembers that, precisely, this 2016 expires the contract that the Consortium has with EMACBSA, and asks that it not be renewed. “It’s an opportunity to rethink the existing model and not repeat mistakes like those that have brought us here; as CUP, we are opposed to extending this service in a joint venture, “he concluded.
“Bad things done, without serious consequences”
The president of the Consortium of the Costa Brava, Carles Pàramo, has admitted that the 2014 audit collects “bad things” in the day-to-day management, but “without serious consequences”. Pàramo recalled that, precisely, they were the ones who commissioned the evaluation report, because the control of the accounts is part of “normality”.
It also ensures that the conclusions of the audit, rather than “reporting irregularities,” what they do is “put doubts about points that are being debated for years,” as if you have to make public contracts or that the private party pays rent. On why they did not present allegations, Pàramo does not go in and simply says that this is the work of the Consorcio’s technicians, because he, as a politician, escapes from it.