Pristine, 20 MAY 2021 – Levizja FOL with the support of USAID Transparent, Effective and Accountable Municipality has today awarded the prize for journalists “FOL for procurement”. The FOL movement since 2010 monitors public procurement in Kosovo. As part of its work in 2018, it launched the Open and Transparent Procurement Portal. The purpose of this portal is to provide information to institutions, journalists and civil society representatives in order to see how the state budget is spent. At the same time, research in the field of public procurement causes public institutions to continuously improve this field.
Mexhide Demolli – Nimani – Executive Director of the FOL Movement, stressed that public procurement accounts for approximately 10% of Kosovo’s Gross Domestic Product. Every year, about 30% of the state budget is spent through public procurement, and the fight against corruption and various abuses in this area continues to be a major challenge. Mrs. Demolli said that “reporting on public procurement by journalists is of particular importance. Therefore, to encourage investigative journalism in the field of public procurement, FOL today awarded three prizes for articles published by investigative journalists in this field, who have presented irregularities and abuses through public procurement procedures. The Deputy Director of the Office for Democracy and Governance at USAID in Kosovo, Christine Danton, said that she is proud that today, awards are being presented to honor three journalists who diligently sought, researched, and informed the public about the potential mismanagement of public funds.”The journalists with their work, has raised his voice for public procurement, they have raised their voice for the citizens, if they have to rely on these goods and services. Today’s winners of these awards are true heroes, their work has shed light on cases of suspected fraud and abuse, and has helped seek accountability from the government. The Open and Transparent Procurement Portal, created three years ago by the Speech Movement, sponsored by USAID, has helped these journalists and many others, as nearly as 50,000 people have visited the portal and conducted their research on over 15,000 contracts, with information on 270 buyers and over 3200 suppliers in Kosovo. “When complex procurement data becomes easily searchable and accessible, this transparency portal helps CSOs, investigative journalists, the private sector and public sector oversight bodies to be accountable,” Danton said, adding that the US Government is committed to supporting Kosovo in its fight against corruption. “When the public procurement system works well, and is transparent and accountable, citizens ultimately benefit, and this is the goal of every democratic country,” she said.
The first prize “FOL for Procurement” was awarded to the author Dorentina Kastrati from Kallxo.com, for the story “Suspicious tender for the family of the minister”.This research shows party and family favors during a tendering process in the amount of 400 thousand euros, becoming a legal violation. The research shows how the Municipality of Malisheva had awarded the tender for the construction of a school in this municipality, to the company of the brother of the Minister of Trade and Industry. That there were irregularities during this tendering process has been ascertained twice by Procurement Review Body. The research also shows that documents were manipulated by the contracting authority to the detriment of the companies that competed, in order to favor the company of the minister’s brother. The author said that research in the field of procurement serves as an example of how within a tender there are many violations which are related either politically or family. Among other things, the winner said that through such investigations, we enable prosecutors to deal with such violations, and that such investigations are much easier given the relief given to us by accessing public documents from the OPTP portal.
The second prize was awarded to the author Besnik Krasniqi from Koha Ditore, for the article “Dallavere për hava”. Following the publication of the investigation, the Economic Crimes Police has launched an investigation into the case. The author said that we should remove the masks in procurement cases to be as realistic as possible and that a thank you goes to the civil society who work on this journey.
Meanwhile, the third prize was awarded to co-authors Valon Fana and Vyrtyte Gërvalla, for the article “Municipality of Gazmend Muhaxheri organizes the tender for the family of Ramiz Kelmendi”. This research has addressed a phenomenon that occurs from time to time in public procurement in Kosovo. The research shows how a family of businessmen has been favored in the tender process for the supply of food products to families in need, whose well-being has been aggravated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Following the publication of the investigation, the Basic Prosecution in Peja has launched an investigation into this matter. The authors said that working in this direction and being evaluated at this award, remains a special feeling and that they will continue their research work in procurement.