PPA Welcomes OLaNO MPs’ Initiative, Audit Carried Out Already in 2016

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Gabriela Matecna. (Photo by TASR)

Bratislava, January 24 (TASR) – The Agricultural Payment Agency (PPA) welcomes an initiative by Ordinary People and Independent Personalities (OLaNO) MPs to file a complaint with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) over allegedly dubious subsidies dispensed by the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry, and both PPA and the ministry will provide full cooperation to all relevant supervisory bodies, ministry spokesman Vladimir Machalik told TASR on Tuesday.

OLaNO MPs Branislav Skripek and Veronika Remisova announced earlier in the day that they will file a complaint with the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) over the allegedly dubious subsidies.

According to Skripek, a company called Masovyroba-Bitunok Tomasov received more than €600,000 over the course of 2015-16 from European funds and the state budget in subsidies provided by PPA, an agency under the remit of the ministry. At the time, the ministry was headed by Lubomir Jahnatek (Smer-SD/2012-16). There are a number of doubts, however, as to whether all criteria for providing a subsidy were met in this particular case. “We ask the European Anti-Fraud Office to look into the allegations because, if proven true, they would constitute unauthorised use of EU financial resources and thus the damaging and endangering of EU financial interests in Slovakia,” said Skripek.

Machalik pointed out that PPA has already conducted an audit at Masovyroba-Bitunok Tomasov (back in February 2016) and established that no provisions of the Agreement on Providing a Non-returnable Financial Contribution were violated on the part of the recipient. Machalik gave assurances that the new management of PPA and the ministry view the bolstering of transparency and the efficient use of European funds as an absolute priority, and so a Transparency Plan has been introduced. The ministry intends to embrace the full electronisation of PPA, which is aimed at bringing a higher level of transparency to processes. “PPA also calls on villages and firms to draft projects themselves and to steer clear of expensive consultants,” added Machalik.