Malta Acts on EUPA observations

MEDIA ROOM

Malta has already updated a number of procedures pointed out in observations by the European Union Programmes Agency (EUPA) after a monitoring visit, Education Minister Dolores Cristina told Evarist Bartolo (PL) when answering a parliamentary question.

The observations included more details in the procedural manual, a lack of human resources, the need of more agency control checks and better distribution of employees’ responsibilities. Others dealt with different management of bank accounts, updating of the website, the submission of programme-pertinent annual reports and better use of IT.

The minister said that during the past months the procedural manual had been updated, specifically to accommodate the demands of the European Commission and the recommendations of the external auditors. In fact, the agency had in hand various versions of the manual with track changes that showed the inclusion of new clauses and amendments according to observations and recommendations of EUPA.

As the EC had been informed in the past months, three new officials had been recruited to EUPA, as a result of which employees’ responsibilities had been better distributed. Bank accounts had been changed from current to savings, with a view to earning interest into the financial balances of the programme accounts. As recommended, various accounts had incorporated into two accounts: one for the Lifelong Learning Programme and the other for the Youth in Action Programme.

Minister Cristina added that the website had been updated, and the EC had shown its satisfaction therewith as far back as February. As demanded by the EC, a precise calendar had been drafted until the end of the year, specifying a programme of control checks in the agency. These control checks would give greater assurance that all administrative procedures were in effect to help take administrative action as effectively as possible.

The annual reports for the respective programmes had been sent to the EC on October 28, 2009 (Leonardo da Vinci), November 20, 2009 (Grundtvig) and November 27, 2009 (Comenius). In February 2010 the Commission had expressed satisfaction with the reports and declared the observation closed.

With regard to the observation about software that should have been installed to facilitate more frequent back-up of the agency’s electronic data, the new software had been installed on its server and was functioning well. The back-up was now being done daily and the system was being continuously updated. When new software was received it was being installed with the utmost efficiency.

Answering other questions by Mr Bartolo, Minister Cristina said the European Commission’s decision to suspend the Grundtvig programme in Malta had affected learning partnerships for 12 persons from two organisations and in-service training, visits and exchanges for six persons.The EC was yet to give information on the period of suspension of the Comenius, Erasmus, Leonardo da Vinci and Grundtvig programmes.