The Czech Republic’s Supreme Audit Office on January 15 conducted a review of how national and European funds have been spent on projects aimed at maintaining and improving the country’s forests between 2011 and 2016.

Altogether, the watchdog examined a series of projects with a total value of 230m crowns.

As reported by Radio Praha, the Supreme Audit Office found that while priority appeared to be given to drawing a maximum of the funds on offers, value for money appeared to be very much a secondary consideration.

ʺThe ministry of agriculture structured it in such a way that the maximum amount of funds was used,” Jiří Kalivoda, a board member of the Supreme Audit Office, posted on the watchdog’s website. “But it did not establish any limits, any ceilings on the spending. And it also allowed 100% financing of projects. That meant that those who benefited from the funding did not have to resort to their own finances at all.ʺ

In fact, the audit discovered large differences in spending within the same projects. For example, the costs of an observation post for watching forestry birds and animals ranged from just under 300,000 crowns to 350,000 crowns. And there were many other differences when other examples of spending were examined.

ʺSignificant spending differences were found in the reconstruction costs of forest paths,” said Kalivoda. “When no limit on spending was set the cost was found to be 13,000 crowns per metre. When a limit was imposed, the cost for repairing those paths came in at 3,000 crowns a metre.ʺ