€15.5 billion in government spending is ‘not properly accounted for’

€15.5 billion in government spending is ‘not properly accounted for’

Photo: Depositphotos Photo: Depositphotos

SINT MAARTEN/THE NETHERLANDS – Some €15.5 billion in government spending last year cannot be properly accounted for, amounting to a ‘worrying’ 5% of the total budget, the national audit office said on Wednesday.

It is the third year running auditors have found ministerial accounting to be lacking. The accounts are assumed to be in order if less than 1% of spending is unsubstantiated.

Last year, the government spent €33 billion on softening the impact of coronavirus, and this has only further exposed the shortcomings and weaknesses in controls on government spending, the audit office said.

Some of the problems are down to staff shortages and the audit office called on the government to take action to make sure this is not the case in the future.

In total, 10 out of 13 ministries did not have their books in order. While the health ministry accounts have improved, they still show serious shortcomings, and €4 billion in spending is not properly accounted for, the office said.

The defence ministry has made major errors with outsourcing and the finance ministry spent 74 cents on administration and organizational costs for every euro paid in compensation for earthquake damage in Groningen.

The economic affairs ministry, the auditors said, was also unable to justify billions of euros in spending on coronavirus support measures for industry. ‘Year after year we have concluded that more than 99% of government spending was in line with the rules,’ chief auditor Arno Visser said.

‘But that has not been the case for the past three years, and the problem is only getting worse… I am not sure how to get across how serious this is.’ The national audit office always publishes its reports on government spending on the third Wednesday in May.


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