Millions of taxpayers’ money burned by municipal company

The Bucharest Tourism Company will be the first municipal company dissolved out of the 20 targeted by the National Liberal Party’s Bucharest branch, its chairwoman, Violeta Alexandru, has announced. The company has become a black hole for taxpayers’ money, as the municipality poured millions of euros into it, just to maintain a ghost company with high-paying wages.

“We consider these companies as opportunities used by the Social Democratic Party’s clientele to [fatten] their incomes,” Alexandru said.

Sources speaking with Romanian news outlet Ziare said the Bucharest Tourism Company had no activity and no debt. “Not even [Gabriela] Firea [then mayor of Bucharest] wanted the company, we were told. We had a website and a Facebook page, but both are now closed because we didn’t even have the financial resources to cover the internet bill,” the source said. The company acquired three offices in Otopeni, at the Bucharest North railway station, and one on Calea Victoriei Street, which was finally inaugurated last year, the same source added.

The Liberal Party accused the Bucharest Tourism Company’s leadership of failing to generate any income during 2020 to justify its existence.

The problem with the matter, however, is that the company’s profile was tourism. So, while the whole country was under lockdown due to coronavirus restrictions, it was impossible to generate revenue.

The core of the problem was that the company was wrongly profiled. Expectations were high, but there was no budget. The mayor’s office expected profits, but the management wasn’t aware of the activities the company should focus on, the source claims, adding that they submitted many plans, which ended up in the mayor’s office drawers.

Meanwhile, it was well worth being an employee of this useless company: It had a budget for the high wages of 40 employees. Salaries started at RON 2,500 and rose to RON 10,000 for company managers, except for the past year, when wages dropped to somewhere between RON 3,000 and 5,000, the source said.

After analyzing the company’s performance, the chairman of the monitoring commission was outraged: “Close to EUR 2 million were thrown out the window. Furthermore, this company did not issue a single invoice during 2020 – income from current activity: zero. This company only burned money, and the only source of income for 2020 was the budget subsidy, for salaries,” said Andrei Badiu, chairman of the commission for monitoring the activity of municipal companies.

Title image: Pixabay

Author: István Fekete