Direct aid in agriculture without targeted control with holes in legislation

Bratislava, 23 July 2020 - The Slovak authorities have not made every effort to guarantee the efficient and transparent spending of EUR 450 mil on farmers (value as in 2018). The Agricultural Paying Agency (APA) guarantees the system of direct payments. Based on the audit conclusions, the Supreme Audit Office of the Slovak Republic (SAO SR) states that the system lacks targeted control and suffers from shortcomings in legislation. At the same time, SAO SR points out that in 2015–2019, any applicant could´ve received financial support from European and Slovak sources without proving a legal relationship to "supported" land. The Agency was not able to monitor the fulfillment of applicants' obligations for a low number of inspectors. The national auditors also raised questions in the entities selection for the on-the-spot inspection by the APA. The SAO SR recommends the PPA take steps to make the grant allocation process open and transparent. The electronic process will minimise errors and will become an important anti-corruption tool within the agency and the agricultural sector.

The SAO SR not only checked the Slovak legislation and its compliance with European law, but also the setting up the direct payments system - from the farmer's application, through on-the-spot inspections of funds disbursement performed by the APA. "This audit also repeatedly confirmed the high level of risk associated with the non-transparent process of assessing and approving applications within the Agency. Another issue is the efficiency in dealing with national and European resources, which, moreover, do not go through standard control processes for direct payments, as is the case with other EU fund programmes. Insufficient internal control creates a breeding ground for corrupt behavior," said SAO SR President Karol Mitrík.

The full text of the press release about this audit in Slovak language is available here. Use the Google icon in the top bar for automatic translation into the desired language.