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News > Press Releases 2013 > Shortcoming in providing subsidies from the Green Savings Programme

Shortcoming in providing subsidies from the Green Savings Programme

10. 12. 2013

The Ombudsman informed the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic about shortcoming of the Ministry of Environment and the State Environmental Fund in proving subsidies from the Green Savings Programme. The Ombudsman has not managed to achieve adequate remedial measures, even after having advised a higher authority or the government or informed the public of the findings from inquiries.

Based on the findings of the Deputy-Ombudsman, the Ministry of Environment (hereinafter only “the Ministry”) erred by not applying the Administrative Procedure Code to the decision-making on subsidies from the Green Savings Programme (Zelená úsporám). Additionally, the State Environmental Fund dealt with the objections of rejected subsidy applicants in a manner violating law and contrary to the principles of good administration because it sent applicants only notifications of the Minister’s decision, without proper substantiation.

An inquiry into the procedure of rejecting applications for subsidies from the Green Savings Programme, opened on the Ombudsman’s own initiative in 2012 on the basis of information from the public and media, confirmed a shortcoming on the part of the Ministry.

The process of submitting objections against rejected subsidy applications was not regulated by any legal regulation or the Ministry’s directive. The State Environmental Fund would only send a notification of the Minister’s decision, which, however, did not contain a decision on the rejection of objections or the factual substantiation of such decision. Although unsuccessful applicants could subsequently request that the decision be sent to them, they were not advised of this possibility by the Ministry or the State Environmental Fund.  

Another shortcoming found consisted in the fact that the Ministry had not applied the Administrative Procedure Code during its decision-making but used the Budgetary Rules Act, which is not applicable to the given case. The income of the State Environmental Fund, from which funds for subsidies from the Green Savings Programme are provided, is not budget revenue and therefore not the Budgetary Rules Act but the Administrative Procedure Code must apply to the decision-making procedure regarding these subsidies. If the Administrative Procedure Code is applied, a decision awarding or not awarding a subsidy constitutes an administrative decision, which may be reviewed in administrative courts.

The Deputy-Ombudsman, who dealt with the issue of subsidies from the Green Savings Programme, called on the Ministry to remedy its shortcoming and to send to all unsuccessful applicants whose objections had been rejected the Minister's decision including substantiation. The decision should also contain advice that the given decision is reviewable in administrative courts, with the necessary time-limits provided. The Ministry stated that the required remedial measures were very difficult to implement but, at the same time, the ombudsman of the Green Savings Programme assured my deputy in a personal meeting that the procedural rights of subsidy applicants concerning the Green Savings Programme would be strengthened.

The Minister’s decisions on objections are reviewable by courts and several judicial proceedings are pending before the Municipal Court in Prague. However, it is not clear whether the court will proceed, if a shortcoming is found, to cancel the mass decision of the Ministry on the rejection of objections in its entirety or just in the part concerning the decision on the petitioner’s objections. Thus, the deputy recommends that unsuccessful applicants who are convinced that their objections were legitimate request a written copy of the decision on objections from the Ministry and contest it by filing an administrative action with the Municipal Court in Prague. An action may be filed within two months of delivery of the decision.

Since a general remedy on the part of the Ministry has not been attained, although the Deputy-Ombudsman exercised punitive power pursuant to the Public Defender of Rights Act and informed the public of the matter in a press release, the Ombudsman advised of this matter the Chamber of Deputies of the Parliament of the Czech Republic.

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