The excavation of the Vistula Spit cost more than twice as much as originally expected and, already at the planning stage, had no chance of ensuring security and increasing prosperity in the region within the planned time. In its report, the Supreme Audit Office crushes one of the flagship investments of the Law and Justice government.
– Already at the planning stage, the Vistula Spit excavation program had no chance of fully achieving the main investment goal, i.e. ensuring security and economic growth in the region, within the planned time – says the president of the Supreme Audit Office Marian Banaś in the report on the implementation of the investment.
As he adds, “its value significantly exceeded the profitability limit” and the Minister of Maritime Economy did not inform the Council of Ministers about it, emphasizing that “his supervision over the entire program was unreliable.”
Nearly two billion zlotys instead of 880 million
– Moreover, the minister justified the faulty decisions of the contractor, the director of the Maritime Office in Gdynia. The latter, misled by the minister, exceeded his powers and incurred multi-million liabilities exceeding the budget of the entire program, Banaś said.
The Minister for Maritime Economy allegedly justified his decisions with “concern for the security of the region.”
Director of the Maritime Office in Gdynia according to NIK incurred liabilities exceeding the budget by over PLN 157.6 million. – He also spent public money on purposes that did not serve his purpose – says Banaś. According to the Supreme Audit Office, it amounts to “many millions of zlotys”.
The value of the program, originally amounting to PLN 880 million, had increased by 125 percent by the end of the audit (i.e. by the end of April 2023), to nearly PLN 2 billion.
In addition, the director of the Maritime Office in Gdynia also allowed for significant delays in the implementation of subsequent stages of the investment.
They “forgot” about Elbląg
The Vistula Spit cutting was intended to ensure the region’s security and socio-economic growth by establishing a waterway enabling free and year-round access for seagoing vessels to Elbląg as a seaport of the European Union. For this purpose, the construction of a shipping canal through the Vistula Spit with accompanying infrastructure, the construction of a waterway from the Bay of Elbląg to the selected location of the canal and the modernization of the entrance to the Port of Elbląg (from the Vistula Lagoon to the bridge in Nowakowo) are planned.
According to the Supreme Audit Office, in 2016 the government PIS adopted a multi-year investment program, it did not include the tasks necessary to achieve the transhipment capacity of the port in Elbląg, which was the subject of previous socio-economic analyses. Thus, “it was not possible to fully achieve the main goal of ensuring the security of the region and enabling socio-economic growth.”
NIK emphasizes that until the necessary infrastructure works are completed in the port of Elbląg, sea vessels for which the program was prepared, i.e. vessels with a draft of up to 4.5 meters and a length of up to 100 meters (180 meters in the case of barges) will not be able to call there. and width up to 20 meters. During this time, it will also be necessary to costly maintain the infrastructure built under the program, which, according to data from 2016, is expected to cost PLN 4.45 million annually in 2023–2025.
It was already twice as expensive before signing the first contract
“According to the economic analysis prepared in 2016 at the request of the Director of the Maritime Office in Gdynia, the profitability limit of the project was exceeded already with a 20% increase in its implementation costs,” says NIK.
Meanwhile, according to the chamber, already in June 2019, i.e. four months before signing the first construction contract, the minister knew that the value of the investment would increase by over 100 percent. Then, however, he did not inform the government about exceeding the profitability ceiling.
According to the Supreme Audit Office, the Minister did not realistically determine the necessary material and financial scope of the investment. It was based on unreliable assumptions developed by the Director of the Maritime Office in Gdynia, who used outdated data.
“This is one of the reasons for the significant increase in expenditure on financing the Program and the extension of its implementation time,” says NIK.
They bought an unnecessary dredger for PLN 116.5 million
According to the Supreme Audit Office, the director of the office properly prepared the documentation necessary to obtain permits for the implementation of investment tasks. However, he allegedly prepared part of the tender documentation as well as projects and financial plans unreliably.
According to NIK, the team whose goal was to prepare and implement the program was established with a three-year delay. Moreover, the scope of responsibilities of the team members was defined only more than half a year after its establishment.
Another complaint of the Supreme Audit Office concerns the spending of funds from the investment budget for purposes that do not contribute to its implementation. An example is the purchase of a dredger by the director of the Maritime Office in Gdynia for approximately PLN 116.5 million, which was not used during the work.
NIK also accuses the director of the office of failing to properly supervise the investment. The lack of appropriate supervision tools – according to the chamber – resulted in individual works starting and ending contrary to the planned dates.
“Out of 161 tasks, as many as 160 were started with a delay of 1 to 2,017 days, and 159 tasks were completed with a delay (as at the end of 2022) of 2 to 1,843 days,” reports NIK.
Main photo source: tvn24