Court of Auditors: “We spend European funds badly for agriculture”
“There are anomalies and critical issues, also of a structural nature, linked to the absence of an accounting regulation in line with current legislation, of an economic-analytical accounting system and of a management control system”. This is what can be read in the determination of the Court of Auditors (Section of control over Entities) regarding financial management, year 2020, of the AGEA (agency for disbursements in agriculture, established in 1999 following the suppression of LOVE agency for interventions on the agricultural market) which coordinates at national level the European economic subsidies in the agricultural sector, subject to the supervision by the Ministry of agricultural, food and forestry policies.
Against the 4,266 million euros of aid from the European Union donated to Italian farmers by paying agencies, the Italian State received reimbursements for 4,097 million euros with a difference (169 million euros) linked to financial corrections and corrections by the European Commission “for deficiencies and irregularities found in the management and control systems”. Specifically, the Court of Auditors reiterates the need for more efficient controls by the AGEA towards the paying structures to avoid the findings of the European Union against the latter, as well as AGEA itself, also as a coordination body.
The administration surplus, year 2020, to the extent of 26,588,491 euros, fell by 56% compared to 2019 due to the amount of residual assets and liabilities retained in the same year and due to the decrease in certain and liquid assets. In this regard, the Accounting Judges recommend the adoption of prudent budget management. The costs of production, greater than the value of production, determine a negative result of 12,767,844 euros. The economic loss rises to 13,962,461 euros and the value of the shareholders’ equity equal to 25,041,577 euros.
“The Court – it is written in the document – notes the non-compliance with the deadline for approving the budget and final balance, hoping for a short time for the definitive approval of the organization and accounting regulations”. The AGEA bodies are represented by the Director and the Board of Auditors. The gross annual salary for the Director of Euro 219 thousand: 91,697.09 fixed salary and result salary, 89,700.00 variable part salary, 38,000.00 as result salary in relation to the objectives assigned by the Minister for Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies. The gross annual fee for the Board of Auditors: chairman €22,272, effective members €18,560 each, the position of substitute member of the College free of charge.
The Magistrates regarding the figure of the Director recall that “the critical issue raised by this Court still appears to exist about the lack of a clear separation between direction functions and management functions for the Director”. The organic endowment of AGEA personnel consists of twelve first and second level managers and 183 units present in service as of 31 December 2020. The annual expenditure is 14,889,662 euros given the cost incurred in 2019: 15,064,150 euros. The report of the Court of Auditors was sent to the presidents of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies.
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