Are the Audit Office reports worth the paper they are printed on?


Yesterday, the newspaper Valencia Plaza published an in-depth interview with Vicent Cucarella, the President of the Audit Office. An interview that caught my attention and that I read with great interest because of the resounding statement the journalist chose as the title: “We have no objection to submitting ourselves to more checks, but not as a political ‘vendetta’”. Throughout the interview, Cucarella honestly reflects on transparency and accountability. The fact is that the reports, studies and analyses produced by the institution he presides ‘are worth the paper they are printed on’, despite some sectors insisting that they are unfounded, or perhaps they do not respond to their prejudices?

The Autonomous Community of Valencia Audit Office is like the central government’s Court of Auditors. It is an institution in charge of safeguarding good practices within the government of Valencia. All democratic and advanced societies must have these kinds of institutions which allow us to trust that our leaders are using the public budget, which is the citizens’ money, correctly and justify their measures and decision-making transparently. These kinds of institutions are what define whether a country has a high institutional quality.

Vicent Cucarella directs the Audit Office since 2016, and in all these years he has had the opportunity to investigate, study, analyse and dissect the different components that make up the public sector in Valencia, make recommendations to the government regarding the correct use of public funds, analyse if things are being done correctly or not… This is his role: to take ‘risks’.

From the interview, I would like to highlight the part where he refers to healthcare concessions and unquestionably asserts that “he is surprised that healthcare concessions are said to be more expensive, when the data argues the contrary”. Honestly, I thought that once the reports on the Manises and Torrevieja concessions were published, nobody would question this assertion, but given the conclusions: That’s all folks. For this reason, I am not surprised that the benefits of the public-private partnership in the healthcare field are still being discussed and questioned, despite the unquestionable evidence.

Like it or not, private management has proven that it is capable of doing more for less and maintaining excellent quality processes. If the governments decide to revert the concessions and exclusively support direct management, it will not be for the sake of quality, or on economic grounds, it will be for “some other reason”. They prefer less quality at a higher price than offering better quality at a lower price. Holy ignominy.

If the Government of Valencia disregards the public institutions that work to improve democratic quality, to control the use of public funding, to improve the quality of public services to citizens, I wonder: are they really thinking about the welfare and future of the citizens to whom they owe so much?

The people who are making these decisions without taking into account the (im)partiality of the data should realise they are doing democracy a disservice.

I would like to conclude these thoughts by thanking Vicent Cucarella for his sincerity and honesty, as someone who has had the chance to study the concessional model of Ribera Salud in the Community of Valencia in depth.

Our doors are always open.

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