The Ministry of Culture provided subsidies to cultural activities in violation with own rules and conditions

PRESS RELEASE on Audit No. 14/10 – December 15, 2014

The Supreme Audit Office (SAO) scrutinized the Ministry of Culture and subsidies provided for cultural activities from 2011 to 2013. Auditors also focused on the subsidies’ utilization in 82 projects, which were implemented by 19 recipients. The scrutinized funds exceeded CZK 80 million. Errors were found with subsidies in the amount of CZK 15.5 million. As a result, the SAO filed eight notices to the responsible tax offices informing about suspected violations of budgetary discipline.

During the audited period, the Ministry of Culture supported approximately 60 % of the submitted projects every year and on average, paid out 37–50 % of the originally requested subsidies. Total annual outcomes of the Ministry to support cultural activities from the Programme of support and extraordinary cultural events ranged from CZK 384 million to CZK 414 million. Subsidies were provided by six different departments of the Ministry and three individual units. These organizational units, however, did not act uniformly when kept records of applicants and subsidies or when actually distributed the subsidies.

For example, the Ministry failed to create equal conditions for all applicants. Some procedures did not have criteria by which the projects should be evaluated. Where the criteria were set they were generally not measurable and therefore not comparable. Some applicants were not informed in advance how the Ministry would assess their projects. The SAO also found cases when the Ministry set the conditions for granting the subsidy but then failed to fulfil them, for example, with subsidies to a non-Governmental organization the Czech music information centre, over 41 % of the provided subsidies were used to pay the employees’ wages, which the Minister had agreed to. But the Ministry itself previously stipulated that no more than 15 % of the provided funds could be used as employees’ wages.

While auditing individual projects, auditors revealed errors in subsidy applications, violations of grant conditions, and violations of the relevant legislation. For example, in 2011, 2012, and 2013, the non-Governmental organization Collegium Bohemicum did not mention that part of the subsidy would be transferred to foreign partners, did not fit the thematic specification, and failed to meet the required rate of co-funding from own resources. FILMFEST Písek Company proceeded uneconomically when paid CZK 8,400 per one square meter a year for rented offices. Part of the rent was covered from the subsidies provided by the Ministry of Culture. The usual price common in the area is around CZK 1,600 per one square meter a year.

Communication Department
Supreme Audit Office

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