Prague - The European Commission (EC) will cut the subsidies awarded to the Czech Republic's development projects by one billion euro as a sanction for numerous cases of fund mismanagement and abuse. The sum may further increase.
According to unofficial information, the sanction will be imposed on four operational programs (OP). The "Transport" and "Environment" programs will lose nearly CZK 20 billion, the "Northwest" program another CZK 3.4 billion, and the "Entrepreneurship and Innovation" program CZK 2 billion.
This is a total of CZK 25.4 billion (one billion euro).
Similar figures were published by the Czech MF Dnes daily newspaper, which said that the "Northwest", "Transport" and "Environment" programs will lose CZK 20 billion in EU aid.
Ministries refuse to say what is the expected amount of the fine.
"We cannot answer your questions, because this information is considered classified by the European Commission, and it wishes it to be handled as such" said Finance Ministry spokesman Ondrej Jakob.
Jakob nonetheless admitted that the ministry, which oversees all EU subsidies awarded to the Czech Republic, has at its disposal "preliminary reports" from audits into the mentioned operational programs conducted in the past months.
"They contain preliminary findings, conclusions and suggestions of the European Commission's auditors," added Jakob.
The Ministries of Transport, Environment and Industry have received the same audit reports, but refuse to comment on them for the same reason as the Finance Ministry.
However, Marcela Klichova from the "Northwest" program's board said that all projects approved until the end of August 2012 will be subjected to a 10 percent sanction. The projects already paid for by the board will lose additional 11.2 percent of their EU subsidies. This means a total loss of EUR 3.4 billion in the "Northwest" program.
In addition, the Education Ministry's "Education for Competitiveness" program will lose several billion koruna in EU aid.
"The correction has been implemented in the range of 5 to 10 percent," said the ministry's spokesman Hynek Jordan. The ministry's program handles roughly CZK 55 billion, which means it will lose between CZK 2.75 billion and CZK 5.5 billion.
According to the Finance Ministry, the EC will impose sanctions also on the "Northeast" regional program handled by the Liberec, Hradec Kralove, and Pardubice regions, and the "Integrated Operational Program" handled by four different ministries.
In addition, an audit into the "Central Bohemia" operational program has been launched.