Drug policy of the Czech state: subsidies were accompanied by errors and non-transparent procedures, objectives were not fully met

Press Release on audit No 20/12 – 24 May 2021

The Supreme Audit Office examined how the Czech state distributed money for drug policy between 2016 and 2019. The auditors focused mainly on the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic (OG CR) and three specific ministries – the Ministry of Health (MoH), the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports (MoEYS), and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), which provided subsidies for projects dealing with drugs. In the years audited, the Office of the Government and the ministries distributed CZK 849 million to beneficiaries. The SAO investigated how the distribution of funds for the implementation of the drug policy was managed, how subsidies were provided, but also how the subsidies were used by the beneficiaries. Strategic objectives in the field of drugs have not been fully achieved. The ministries have erred in allocating subsidies and in some cases created a non-transparent and discriminatory environment.

Drug policy objectives for the years 2010 to 2018 were not met. The Office of the Government itself assessed that as regards illegal drugs, only one of the four targets – reducing the occasional use of drugs by young people – had been met. The same was true of gambling, where statutory gambling regulation had been strengthened. All the other objectives were not achieved – the number of problem drug users increased, the perceived availability of drugs among people remained high. For alcohol and tobacco, the targets were met only partially or not at all.

The auditors focused on how the grantors had distributed their funds. The ministries proved to be in breach of mandatory procedures and rules in several cases. For example, the MoEYS and the MoH failed to create an application form that would have included all the elements required by law. The same was true for the grant decisions issued, which did not always comply with the legal requirements – this was a problem with all the audited institutions.

In addition, the MoEYS and the MoH had, in some cases, acted in a non-transparent manner, creating an uneven playing field for the beneficiaries. Both ministries supported projects that had not met all the conditions for receiving a grant – for example, the MoH supported applications for a total value of approximately CZK 18.6 million, but which did not contain all the necessary elements. The MoEYS supported three applications worth almost CZK 1.3 million, which received less than 30 points from independent evaluators, which meant that they should not have been supported at all. One of the projects received zero points in one of the scores, moreover, it failed to meet all the necessary requirements, but the Ministry approved a grant amounting to CZK 332 thousand. Furthermore, the MoEYS approved two subsidies for a total of more than CZK 656 thousand to a natural person who was involved in the administration of the subsidies and in the application evaluation process.

The SAO also examined a sample of 54 grants amounting to CZK 66 million on the part of beneficiaries. Overall, the auditors found errors in beneficiaries for approximately CZK 256 thousand.

Communication Department
Supreme Audit Office

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