Hradec Králové – The North-West operational program which handles EU subsidies for Northern Bohemia’s regions has been sharply criticized by the European Commission (EC) and European Court of Auditors (ECA) for wide-spread irregularities, abuses, and manipulations of the tendering process.
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Regional politicians in North Bohemia put in place a special system that practically allowed them to allocate EU funds to the projects of their liking, without any independent control.
Czech online daily Aktualne.cz learned that a very similar system is used also in the North-East operational program. This operation program has not been subjected to any audit or other kind of scrutiny by EU agencies.
The North-East operational program handles EU subsidies for the Hradec Kralove, Pardubice and Liberec regions. In thirty “calls” for bids, it has already allocated nearly CZK 19 billion from the total of CZK 20 billion pledged by the EU.
Aktualne.cz randomly selected the 12th call for bids from 2010, aimed at brownfield revitalization projects, and analyzed it.
The total of 23 private subjects submitted their bids.
The selection process consisted of two parts. First, two independent experts evaluated the bids for quality, and allocated up to 60 points to each project. Eventually, a so-called “expert commission” rated the “necessity” of the proposed projects, and allocated up to 40 points.
The “expert commission” was composed of regional officials directly appointed by the chief of the North-East operational program.
In result, six projects whose quality was judged as poor by the independent experts were given between 36 and 40 points by the “expert commission”, and received the grant. At the same time, two projects that were highly esteemed by the independent experts for their quality were discarded by the “expert commission” as unnecessary.
czechnews – see the article in czech here
This system of manipulating the tender process is very similar to the one used in the criticized North-West operational program, where the bids were evaluated by three criteria, one of them being “usefulness”.
In June 2012, the EC said that the deliberate ambiguity of the “usefulness” criterion allowed the program’s expert commission to allocate points according to their personal interest. The audit report concluded that the system permitted projects of poor quality to receive grants. This flaw is considered so serious that the EC may decide to cut as much as CZK 5 billion from the funds allocated to the operational program.
The North-East operational program evaluates the bids by similarly ambiguous criteria.
Aktuálně.cz learned about the manipulations in the North-East operational program from a businessman who had unsuccessfully applied for a grant in the second “call” for bids.