Auditors question Agriculture Ministry’s 1.5 billion support for Czech food products
The Czech Ministry of Agriculture may have squandered up to 1.5 billion crowns on ambiguous promotion of Czech food and wine products over the past six years, according to a report by the country’s Supreme Audit Office. Much of the money was allegedly committed without a clear strategy, and in breach of the Czech public procurement legislation.
The auditors, however, have questioned the efficiency of the campaigns, and the ministry’s overall strategy. “The auditors see the fact that the goals of the campaigns were often unclear as a key mistake. Many winners were selected without any prior setting of success criteria or those that were to be achieved in the future. It is therefore hard to be sure how much the communication campaigns ultimately helped achieve these targets,” the Supreme Audit Office said in a press release on Monday.
The Supreme Audit Office also believes some of the campaigns breached the Czech public procurement legislation; for example from 2009 to 2011, six large and over a hundred small-scale contracts were awarded without a tender. Instead, clients were directly approached.
Invoices seem to have been paid for commissions which were either unfinished or had never even taken place. Public funds were also spent on activities which had never been part of the agreed contract. In total, this amounted to 96.3 million crowns.
The audit office’s report comes at a time when a new advertising concepts for the Klasa and Regionální potravina are being created. This was initiated by Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka who in the past called for the introduction of a long term strategic plan for Czech agriculture. In a reaction to the report, Mr Jurečka said the past funding of the marketing campaigns was the responsibility of his predecessor in office.