27. května 2016 | News

Bude kontrola nad bilionem Kč možná?

Only four more Senate votes would have done the welcome trick of passing a Constitutional amendment, which would enable the Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) to check on state or municipal companies, state funds, self-government bodies, and other important institutions. Unfortunately the Senate defeated a motion, on 26 May 2016, which would have extended the NKÚ’s powers, even though these competences have demonstrably proved their value in comparable foreign institutions, and the Czech Republic virtually remains the only EU member, where an audit office cannot supervise a key segment of public finances. All disputed points had been clarified in the course of numerous debates. However, not all hope is gone: Senators continue to be pressurized into passing this crucial amendment. Therefore they promised in a resolution[1] to reopen debate on the motion to extend NKÚ powers as soon as the Chamber of Deputies proposes a simplification of the audit system. Opponents of public finance control in the Senate banks would dearly hope that such situation will not occur and have nonsensically tied one measure to another. A simplification of the system is of course also a commendable goal, and therefore we urge the government to have the relevant bill subjected to an expeditious debate.

In 2014-2015 the NKÚ evinced interest in checking the progress of construction of four stations of the A-line of Prague’s Metro subway. The original winning price of CZK 22.6 billion eventually rose to 27.1 billion CZK. Unfortunately the NKÚ was not endowed with sufficient control powers at that time and all it could do was to focus on “only” 7.4 billion CZK financed from the EU funds. However, a number of highly suspect circumstances came to light[2] and an expert audit on the part of the NKÚ would have certainly led to incontestable conclusions. Cases like this are fairly abundant (see Opencard) and the total amount of funds escaping control exceeds one billion crowns.[3]  

The NKÚ is the nation’s supreme audit authority and a veritable scourge of miscellaneous clientelist structures, which worked day and night with the Senate to prevent the inspection of what amounts to more than one billion CZK of public money. It is more than desirable to see that each and every citizen knows how his Senator voted and if his/her commitment to prevent the embezzlement of public assets is genuine.[4] Simply said, it was one of many small battles to be fought in future.[5]  

Czech cities and municipalities would especially greatly profit from an extended audit powers of the NKÚ, as demonstrated by Slovakia’s experience. The Association of Slovak Towns and Municipalities has sent a clear message to Czech mayors: “The Association of Slovak Towns and Municipalities takes the supreme audit authority not as a scare, but a partner, whose audit findings help us to update and upgrade processes taking place on the urban and municipal level.” [6] There are many local politicos in the Senate, but paradoxically some of them seem to have paradoxically insinuated that the NKÚ is less of a helper and more of a foe. The NKÚ actually saves community money, since Czech towns and municipalities have a hard time trying to higher external specialists to carry out audits, disclose fraud, etc. The NKÚ will help introduce certain standards and highlight examples of due diligence.

“Reconstruction of State considers this change one of the nine key corruption-bucking measures, and it is typical for all organizations on our platform that they will not be discouraged from bringing them forth in quality. The same applies in this case, and Reconstruction of State will continue to press for a fresh debate on this proposal, but this time Senators cannot argue that sufficient steps have not been taken to eliminate the duplicity of certain types of inspection,” says Janusz Konieczny, analyst for the Anticorruption Endowment (NFPK).

Please contact: Janusz Konieczny, NFPK Analyst, e-mail: janusz.konieczny@nfpk.cz, tel.: 604 270 132

[1] http://www.senat.cz/xqw/xervlet/pssenat/htmlhled?action=doc&value=80056

[2]http://ceskapozice.lidovky.cz/kauza-prazskeho-metra-o-rekordni-pokutu-nejde-hrozi-vetsi-prusvih-1d6-/tema.aspx?c=A131107_161849_pozice_137363

[3] http://www.rekonstrukcestatu.cz/cs/rozsireni-kontrolnich-pravomoci-nku#fakta-a-argumenty

[4] http://www.senat.cz/xqw/xervlet/pssenat/hlasy?G=16014&O=10

[5] http://www.rekonstrukcestatu.cz/cs/seznam-politiku

[6] https://www.facebook.com/RekonstrukceStatu/photos/p.1354128487937837/1354128487937837/?type=3&theater