European subsidies help to save Czech monuments. However, nine projects are at risk of failing to receive half a billion of support.
Press release on Audit No 21/14 - 23 May 2022
The Supreme Audit Office (SAO) focused on European subsidies for the restoration of selected cultural monuments. The SAO verified whether the projects of the “Integrated Regional Operational Programme” (IROP) contributed to the preservation, protection and development of cultural heritage and whether the restoration of selected monuments had positive effects on local or regional employment and competitiveness. This was one of the main reasons why the Ministry of Regional Development (MoRD) distributed these subsidies between 2014 and 2020. The auditors also examined the Centre for Regional Development, which administered the support.
The auditors found that subsidies for the revitalisation of monuments were granted and used in such a way that they fulfilled their main purpose, which is to preserve and develop cultural heritage. The shortcomings concerned rather systemic issues — evaluation of the impact of distributed money, deadlines for project evaluation, etc.
As part of the IROP, MoRD distributed more than CZK 7.1 billion among 105 monuments within 119 projects between 2014 and 2020. By the end of 2021, 45 of these 119 projects had been completed. CZK 3.8 billion were reimbursed, i.e. more than half of the prepared money. The average project duration was four and a half years.
However, there is a risk that nine projects will not be able to receive nearly half a billion support. No contracts for construction and restoration work were concluded at the time of the audit, albeit these projects should be completed by 31 December 2023 at the latest.
Furthermore, the SAO’s findings showed that, for example, the MoRD set an unrealistic deadline for the evaluation of the formal requirements of support applications, resulting in delays of 10 or 41 working days on average. The MoRD has also insufficiently set an indicator for measuring the actual benefits of the support. This was the number of visits to the monuments made available for admission fee. However, this indicator does not monitor the development of the visits´ number of specific supported monuments. It was also not possible to measure the impact on regional employment and competitiveness, as the MoRD did not have the necessary indicators at the time of the audit.
The SAO did not reveal significant shortcomings concerning the beneficiaries. On the audited sample of 16 projects worth CZK 545 million, the SAO found only minor errors totaling CZK 100,000.
Part of the SAO’s audit was an online questionnaire survey among the beneficiaries of subsidies. It showed that more than half of the beneficiaries would not revitalise the monuments without IROP support.
Supreme Audit Office