Today we browse through the public procurement of the largest project currently being implemented in Edineț municipality, namely ”Edineț – town with a future perspective”, a project that benefits from a financing fund of 4,140,186. 00 euros from EU and another 218,700. 00 euros from the town hall of Alba Iulia Municipality.
We focus our attention on an important public procurement of the project, with a value of 118,000 euro (equivalent to 2,547,112.60 lei), specifically the Smart Urban Plan of Edineț municipality, which also includes the Mobility Plan and the Action Plan for Energy and Climate. This Plan will serve as a basis for local councillors in making decisions on the development and layout of the city for the coming decades. It is a long-awaited Plan, but one that raises some intrigues.
On February 26, 2021, by Provision no. 34 – c of the Edineț Town Hall (here) Mrs. Angela Cașcaval was appointed as Project Manager. Obviously, any grandiose project needs an experienced person. She states that she won the given position in public competition, and the association she led until august 2021, this time, had no involvement in obtaining non-reimbursable funding in this project. It remains unclear to the public when, how and where the information and organization of the contest for the position of project manager took place, as long as there is no announcement on the website of Edineț Town Hall and the distance from Chișinău to the Information Board of Edineț Town Hall is some kilometers long…
A little later, on April 1, 2021, by Provision no. 45 of the Edineț Town Hall (here) the public procurement working group within this project is formed. Among the 11 members of the group, we also see the name of the manager Angela Cașcaval, also responsible for public procurement.
We mention that some of the members of the commission were and are employees in the project. According to art. 88 of the Regulation on public works procurement, the working group shall take all necessary measures to avoid situations which could result into a conflict of interest and/or to prevent, restrict or distort the competition.
So, on 27.04.2021 the public tender was opened. Over a month, on 27.05.2021, on the same day and as if by telepathy, at a difference of 1 hour and 5 minutes, the first and only participants – Avensa Consulting SRL (Romania) and INCP Urbanproiect – submitted their offers, and the next day, on 28.05.2021, the opening of tenders took place. It is worth mentioning that SC Avensa Consulting SRL (Romania) submitted its offer in association with another company (Europolis International) from Chișinău, where Avensa is the leader in the execution of works in proportion of 41.53%, and the other company has the quality of associate with the execution of 58.47% of works.
Participants at public auction. Offers indicated in MDL.
Thus, among the 2 participants, the public procurement working group chose the winning offer submitted by SC Avensa Consulting SRL, based in Iași, România.
Curious is the fact that on the page tender.gov.md a Moldovan firm is listed as the winner of the tender – ÎM Avensa Consulting SRL and not the one in Romania that submitted the offer.
In a simple analysis of the presentation site of Avensa Consulting SRL in Romania, we note that it would also have an office in the Republic of Moldova, represented by the company ÎM Avensa Consulting SRL, led until recently by Mrs. Angela Cașcaval. Only, the official certificate of Avensa Consulting in Romania does not indicate subsidiaries (separate legal entities) registered on the territory of the Republic of Moldova (here).
According to art. 96 of the Regulation on joint public procurement, where the economic operator intends to subcontract part(s) of the contract, the European Single Procurement Document (ESPD) shall also include the requested information on subcontractors. The Romanian firm, as well as the associated one, made it very clear in the ESPD document that there will be no subcontracted companies.
According to the history of ÎM AVENSA Consulting SRL in R. of Moldova, from its establishment until March 2022, was managed by none other than Mrs. Angela Cașcaval, as administrator. Mrs. Angela Cascaval was also one of the founders of this company with a share of 10%.
The aspects of respecting the conflict of interest seems not to have prevented Mrs. manager from being both a member of the public procurement working group and a participant in the public tender, where she even won the contract, although until the date of opening the tenders she was obliged to comply with Law 131/2015 on public procurement and declared on her own responsibility that:
- for the last 3 years she has not been part of the board of directors or any other management or administrative body of the bidder;
- she does not hold shares or interests in the subscribed share capital of the bidders.
The rules for avoiding conflict of interest provided for in art. 79 (6) of Law 131/2015 on public procurement mentions that, if one of the members of the group work of the contracting authority / procurement service provider notes, before or after the opening of tenders, that he or she is in one or more of the situations specified above, he /she will immediately request his/her replacement in the composition of the group with another person. This was not requested by anyone, since Provision no. 45/01.04. 2021 has no changes made to the State Register of local documents. Obviously, we can imagine that she did not know about the fact that the company led by her participated in a large auction, distorting the competition, and where it won.
On the other hand, the contracting authority, i.e. Edineț Town Hall, according to art. 19 (3) of Law 131/2015 on public procurement had the obligation to exclude from the procedure for the award of the public contract any tenderer or candidate who is in any of the following situations:
- has submitted false information or has not submitted the information requested by the contracting authority for the purpose of demonstrating that the qualification and selection criteria have been met;
- is guilty of professional misconduct, which casts doubt on its integrity, if the contracting authority demonstrates, by any appropriate means, that fact;
- is in a situation of conflict of interest that cannot be effectively remedied by the measures provided for in art. 79.
The town hall, according to art. 89 of the Regulation on public works procurement, if it finds situations such as to give rise to a conflict of interest and/or to prevent, restrict or distort competition, has the obligation to notify the authorized authorities with the exercise of powers in respect of that procedure.
If the town hall of Edineț municipality did something about it, it’s hard to believe. However, the mystery by which ÎM Avensa Consulting SRL from R. Moldova became the winner of the auction remains unclear. As for how this auction went through the integrity filters, we leave it to you to draw conclusions.