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Active plus. Supreme Audit Office. The Chamber is to notify the prosecutor’s office. Marlena Maląg, former minister of family, comments

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The Supreme Audit Office has prepared a notification to the prosecutor’s office on suspicion of committing a crime in connection with the implementation of the “Aktywni plus” program in 2023. As reported, the notifications concern, among others, the former minister of family and social policy and the deputy head of this ministry. According to NIK, instead of a tender competition, an election campaign was conducted. According to former Minister of Family and Social Policy, Marlena Maląg, the program was implemented properly.

The “Aktywni plus” program is addressed to non-governmental organizations and aims to increase the activity of older people. NIK audited the implementation of the program in 2023. The Chamber announced in a statement that it had prepared a notification to the prosecutor’s office on the suspicion of committing a crime against the former Minister of Family and Social Policy, former deputy minister in this ministry and former director of the Department of Senior Policy. “Instead of a tender competition, an election campaign,” it was written.

NIK’s doubts concern, among others, unequal distribution of money under the program and changes in regulations while considering applications.

Until November 27, 2023, Marlena Maląg was the Minister of Family and Social Policy. The former head of the Ministry of Labor and Social Policy, responding to the Chamber’s allegations, said that the program was properly implemented. She recalled that the program was directly supervised by the then deputy minister of this ministry, Stanisław Szwed, who – as she emphasized – “made decisions with full responsibility, taking into account the best understood public interest – so that the senior policy was implemented comprehensively throughout the country.”

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NIK: election campaign instead of a tender competition

NIK announced in a statement that in last year’s edition of the “Aktywni plus” program, non-governmental organizations submitted 1,907 projects worth almost PLN 282 million, of which the ministry selected 518 offers for co-financing worth a total of approximately PLN 39 million. The Chamber explained that regardless of the results of the competition, the Minister of Family, as part of the so-called strategic assessment, has at his disposal a pool of funds that he can award to projects of his choice, even those rated very low by experts.

As part of such an assessment, in 2016 52 projects received funding, in 2017 – 23 projects, in 2021 – 45 projects, and in 2022 57 projects. NIK pointed out that last year, after changes introduced in the competition regulations and in the regulation regarding the appointment of the competition committee, 141 projects were co-financed under the strategic assessment procedure.

“Of the 44 non-governmental organizations that received funds to implement their projects in the Silesian Voivodeship on this basis, as many as 24 operated in the constituency from which the then deputy minister granting the funding stood for election to the Sejm. They received a total of over PLN 1.7 million” – the Chamber reported.

NIK on the implementation of the “Active plus” program

The Chamber has reservations about the way the funds were allocated by the then deputy minister under the so-called strategic assessment. NIK reported that on April 14, 2023, it decided to allocate almost PLN 9.5 million to 141 non-governmental organizations, which constituted 25%. total funds for subsidies.

“This happened even though the co-financing as part of the strategic assessment, in accordance with the regulations in force at that time: the competition and the competition committee, should not exceed 10 percent. Thus, almost PLN 5.7 million was distributed contrary to the guidelines set out in these regulations,” it was stated in NIK announcement.

As it was added, four days later this decision was “legalized” by a change introduced by the deputy minister to the competition regulations and a change made by the Minister of Family and Social Policy in the regulation regarding the appointment of the competition committee.

“Part of the funds obtained as a result of using this mechanism were provided to 44 non-governmental organizations from the Silesian Voivodeship, as many as 24 of which operated in the constituency from which the deputy minister granting the funding stood as a candidate in the Sejm elections. These organizations received over PLN 1.7 million.” – reminded the Chamber.

NIK also drew attention to the fact that, on the basis of the strategic assessment, co-financing was granted to offers that received fewer points in the basic competition procedure than those rated higher by experts. “This was a violation of the Act on Public Benefit and Volunteerism, according to which cooperation between public administration bodies and non-governmental organizations is based on the principle of fair competition,” the Chamber said.

Moreover, according to the Supreme Audit Office, the changes introduced during the competition “did not guarantee that public funds intended for co-financing non-governmental organizations would be spent in accordance with the statutory principles of economy.” “As a consequence of the changes introduced, the selection of offers had a competitive nature to a small extent,” we read.

It was indicated that 36 out of 518 organizations received funding of less than PLN 25,000. PLN, even though, according to the assumptions of the competition regulations, it should amount to at least PLN 25,000. zloty.

The Minister for Senior Policy comments

NIK has formulated post-audit conclusions to the Ministry of Family, Labor and Social Policy, which is intended to eliminate irregularities in the preparation and conduct of subsequent editions of the “Aktywni plus” competition. The announcement stated that the Minister of Family, Labor and Social Policy, Agnieszka Dziemianowicz-Bąk, informed the Chamber in January about the commencement of the implementation of all applications.

The matter was also commented on on social media by the Minister for Senior Policy, Marzena Okła-Drewnowicz.

“The deputy minister of family from PiS was to treat the government program to support seniors as an election campaign in his district. This will be investigated by an independent prosecutor’s office. I am in the process of transferring this program to be implemented at the Chancellery of the Prime Minister. I will start with a detailed audit, although after reading the report of the Supreme Audit Office I see one thing: it is a stable. Augiasz. Seniors were like party loot for the previous government. They saw only their interests there,” wrote Okła-Drewnowicz on the X website (formerly Twitter).

“I guarantee one thing: senior policy is REALLY starting, and PiS pathologies will be eradicated and brought to justice,” added the head of the ministry for senior policy.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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