Audit: Rural development funding successful but not transparent enough
The National Audit Office analysed distribution of LEADER funding, which is financed from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and aimed at the development of rural areas, and which supports a variety of activities from enterprise to the development of village life. The program has been a success in Estonia, but the selection process could be more transparent, the audit found.
The National Audit Office concluded that the LEADER program has taken off well in Estonia. Local Action Groups have been active and it is almost impossible to find a place in rural areas that has not received support from the program. Over 7,400 projects were implemented with LEADER funding in the previous support period of 2007-2013. Entrepreneurs, local authorities, non-profit organisations and others were eligible for support.
According to the data collected by the Ministry of Agriculture, the output and performance indicators of the objectives set by the state, have been exceeded several times over in many cases. The figures to be reported to the European Commission are good and suggest that the program can be considered a success.
However, the National Audit Office found some problems as well – for example, the selection of projects to be supported should be more transparent and clear reasons should be given why one project receives money and another one does not.
The jobs created, which is an important indicators in measuring the success of the program, are also sometimes problematic. Monitoring data show that a number of a jobs have indeed been created, but these tend to be temporary.
In the next budget period, Estonia will have around 90 million euros to spend until 2020.