Over EUR 6 M in “flawed” social benefits

A new controversy sparked at the Ministry of Labour after a Court of Auditors report issued end-2013 revealed that the Ministry has erroneously granted over EUR 6 million in welfare benefits, child care allowances, and other benefits through ANPIS (the National Agency for Payments and Social Inspection). RON 3.355 million, the equivalent of USD 1 million, were granted in welfare benefits to individuals whose bank deposits exceeded RON 3,000, according to the document. The scope of the audit included the Ministry of Labour’s activity in 2012, as well as a short period of 2013. The amounts recovered in 2013 by 42 territorial agencies account for barely 39.7 percent of the total, the report shows.
Following the publication of the Court of Auditors report, Adrian Toader, Head of ANPIS, stated yesterday that based on cross-analyses the Agency has concluded over EUR 6.8 million of the state budget were paid erroneously in 2012 and 2013 to welfare beneficiaries. According to Toader, on December 31, 2013, the Agency’s balance due was RON 8,535,000, which determined the Court of Auditors to expand the scope of the audit to records under payment.
Adrian Toader went on to explain that collaboration protocols have been concluded between various institutions (the National Agency for Fiscal Administration, the House of Pensions, the National Agency for Employment, Persons Record) as of 2012 and this has made cross-analyses possible, while noting such “inadvertences” also occurred precisely because protocols and cross-analyses had not existed prior to 2012. “In every country, the welfare benefit system is vulnerable and attempts are made to defraud it. This can only be prevented through thorough personnel training,” he underlined. Toader also noted another problem in this respect is the lack of professional social workers in rural areas, as well as the fact that cross-analyses still cannot be performed at town hall level at present. If an unfairly granted right is not recovered within three years of finding the irregularity, he added, it is prescribed, but unrecovered amounts are very small. According to the Court of Auditors report, RON 4,585,000 were paid in welfare benefits and family support allowances, as a consequence of the beneficiaries’ failure to declare all net incomes earned from pensions, unemployment benefits, family support allowances, subsidies from the Agency for Payment and Intervention in Agriculture for animals owned but not declared, as well as from incomes for being shareholders or associates. The Court of Auditors also found undue payments of child care allowances amounting to RON 4,092,000, which were granted to individuals who concomitantly earned professional incomes subject to income taxes.

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