SPECIAL: Local investment programs and politics

https://expertforum.ro/en/pndl-2022/EFOR has been publishing reports regarding the investment programs since 2012, whether the National Development Program (PNDL) or its predecessors, as well as the Reserve Fund and other emergency funds. The reports and maps below illustrate how allocations were made and how projects were implemented. We analyzed the administrative capacity, the transparency of the program, the way in which public procurement was carried out, and the way in which the audit of the programs was or was not carried out.

We demonstrated from the start, using the clientelism map, how money is allocated based on political criteria, with mayors in power receiving even up to three times more than those in opposition. A clientelism peak was reached during the Tăriceanu Government in 2007. In 2014, we were the only ones to prove, with statistics, that PSD used PNDL as a tool to buy mayors before the presidential elections; in September-October over 500 mayors migrated from other parties to the social democrats. In addition to the money allocated by the Ministry of Development for infrastructure, we also looked at the Government Reserve Fund, which had the same fate.

In terms of public procurement, we released various reports over time that reveal that in almost a quarter of the counties in the country, four to five companies receive almost 50-60% of the money (from even more than 100 companies that get contract). Many of these companies have political ties – shareholders, administrators, founders, etc. – or have criminal records for fraud or fixed procurement. For the most recent report, we spent over three months identifying procurement from PNDL, as they are not marked in any way and therefore very hard to track, and the conclusions show that for 5000 analyzed purchases the prior finding is reaffirmed. In the absence of data, EFOR has published created databases for anyone to access and has taken steps to ensure that the essential data is published regularly.

EFOR compared the distribution and expenditure of funds for investments and similar procedures in Moldova and Georgia. According to the data, the Good Roads (Drumuri bune) initiative in Moldova was clientelist and sponsored communities or sections of communities with higher electoral potential.

The latest EFOR report, accompanied by an interactive map, shows that there is a lack of administrative capacity within the Ministry of Local Development, Works and Administration (MDLPA) to implement PNDL, projects are managed on paper, project implementation data are missing or are obtained long after completion, there are no effective controls and no performance audit to show whether or not PNDL 1 and 2 were successful (although EFOR requested one). Also, by the spring of 2021, about half of the 12,000 financed projects were implemented, although, for others, no financial settlements had been reached despite the fact that contracts were signed as early as 2015 or 2016. Some of these projects are worth tens of millions of lei. The report also demonstrates what the Court of Auditors found a lack of capacity to conduct public procurement, as well as a lack of transparency in this process.

All conclusions show that the emergency ordinance regulating the Anghel Saligny program repeats most of the issues highlighted above and does not lessen the possibility for clientelism and fraud from earlier initiatives. Previous experience has shown that the past stages of PNDL had severe administrative issues and in some cases suspicions of criminal acts, and a new program cannot operate unless this legacy is solved. In this regard, EFOR requested that the Ministry of Development also hold a public debate to discuss how the program can be improved. As part of the Open Government Partnership Plan, EFOR worked with the Ministry of Development, organized debates and additional data was published in December 2022. Further efforts to make the program more transparent are under way.

In conclusion, we feel that local investment funds are required; nevertheless, the establishment of such a program must be transparent, conducted through genuine discussions, and not abused through an OUG. Above all, it should not be exploited to gain political support, but rather to provide additional prospects for growth to communities.


Below you can find some of the most noteworthy reports and analyses on PNDL and Saligny:


Interactive maps


Reports about PNDL and SALIGNY

Programul Saligny este de facto PNDL 3

How do we fix PNDL?

The profile of political clientelism in the region: Romania, Moldova and Georgia

The National Local Development Program in 2022. Billions for delayed projects

Harta Clientelismului: cine a primit bani în prima jumătate a anului 2018?


Public comments

Clientelism pe model Tăriceanu. EFOR solicită coaliției de guvernare să dezbată următorul PNDL în mod transparent

Emergency funds

Clientelism without reserves


Banii și achizițiile: unde au ajuns contractele din PNDL în județul Constanța?

Banii și achizițiile: unde au ajuns contractele din PNDL?

Banii și achizițiile 2: unde au ajuns contractele din PNDL?


In short

[VIDEO] Banii și politica: cum își plătesc partidele campaniile clientelar din bani publici în România și Moldova

Open Government Partnership

EFOR este partener la două angajamente în cadrul Planului de Acțiune OGP 2020-2022

Două recomandări EFOR au fost incluse în Planul OGP 2018-2020