Problems identified in projects used by the Slovakia’s Environment Ministry to draw money from European Union structural funds could cost the country up to €46 million, the Sme daily reported.
An expert on structural funds, Ján Rudolf, told Sme that he could not remember such a high fine being applied to Slovakia before.
“It is a result of [politics] at the Environment Ministry, where ministers have been changed very often and which was even abolished for some time,” he added.
The European Commission stopped money from EU structural funds being used for environmental projects in July 2011 after if found several mistakes and non-transparent conditions in procurement contracts, the majority of which were announced during the first government of Robert Fico. After the Environment Ministry received a formal notice it started checking past tenders and found that about 7 percent of money had not been used transparently.
However, the sum presented by the EC is not necessarily final since there still are some areas which have not been checked, said Ingrid Ludviková from the EC Representation in Slovakia.
The money spent on non-transparent projects will have to be paid back to the EU budget from the Slovakia’s state budget, except for several cases where the originators of the projects will be fined.
Rudolf said he believes that some of the money owed by the state should be extracted from the authors of the projects if checks show that they are responsible for the mistakes made in the documentation.
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
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