The Union State’s Activities to Overcome the Consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster Do Not Cover the Needs of the Most Affected Territories
The management of the Program of Joint Activities to Overcome the Consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster in the Union State for the period up to 2016 was not properly organized. There was no necessary control over its implementation progress. This conclusion has been made by the Accounts Chamber following the audit of using the Union State’s budget funds earmarked to overcome the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster and to provide social support to the population of Russia and Belarus who was exposed to radiation.
The Union State’s programs aimed at solving the Chernobyl problem have been consistently implemented since 1998. The Program reviewed during the audit was the fourth in a row. The total amount of the resource support for the Program from the Union budget was RUB 1.3 bln, 60% of which were expenses of the Russian side.
Despite the social significance of this problem, the Program was developed over two years (starting from 2011) and was approved only in December 2013. Auditor Alexander Zhdankov stressed during his speech at the Board’s meeting: “The problem of long-term coordination is revealed by the Accounts Chamber at each audit of the Union’s programs. At the same time, the current practice of “delaying” leads to the fact that the set goals and objectives become irrelevant by the time when programs are completed.”
According to the data obtained during the audit, the Program has been generally implemented in full; the target indicators have been achieved.
However, the audit of using the funds allocated for the Program revealed numerous violations for the total amount of RUB 58.6 mln, including in the course of procurement procedures, the execution and management of government contracts, as well as some facts testifying to the inefficient use and misuse of funds.
Thus, the expenditures of the Federal Medical and Biological Agency of Russia for the purchase of office equipment worth over RUB 1 mln were provided for neither in the Program’s Feasibility Study nor in the public contract.
The Russian Federal Forestry Agency spent more than RUB 13 mln for the development of seven methodological documents, which were not approved at the time of the audit and not used in practice. In the interests of the Ministry of Agriculture, the contractors developed five methodological documents worth RUB 9.1 mln. Their analysis revealed that half of them were copied from other sources.
Some results obtained during the implementation of government contracts did not meet the conditions of their terms of reference. Thus, the Program included the Federal Medical and Biological Agency’s expenditures in the amount of RUB 54 mln to provide medical aid to more than 500 patients. However, under the terms of the public contract, such aid was provided to 240 patients for the same money. However, no amendments were made to the Program.
Despite of the breach of contract terms, the public customers carried out no claiming activities; the work was accepted and paid in full.
The public contractor did not monitor the implementation the Program’s results. Thus, most of the research documents created by the Ministry of Public Health and the Federal Medical and Biological Agency are not actually used, although the cost of their creation amounted to almost RUB 30 mln.
In addition, the audit showed that the comprehensive medical aid actually provided to Russian citizens as part of these activities did not cover the need of the territories that are the most affected by the Chernobyl disaster. Moreover, the quota for providing health care (up to 1,500 people per year), as set by the EMERCOM of Russia and the Russian Ministry of Public Health, was not used in full. Thus, in 2016, medical care was provided only to 963 patients; in 2017, to 1,102 patients. At the same time, the unused balances for the program with the Ministry of Public Health amounted to almost RUB 19 mln in 2016.
A similar problem is noted regarding the treatment and rehabilitation of children living in radioactively contaminated areas. The auditor said: “The number of children sent every year for treatment and rehabilitation was in general 28% lower than the declared need.”.
According to him, the concept of the fifth Chernobyl Program is being developed now for the period 2019–2022. The auditor stressed that “Nearly half of the costs provided for in the draft program are allocated to R&D, which is more than 10 times the corresponding indicator of the Program implemented in 2016. At the same time, measures to provide medical care and rehabilitation to citizens are not provided for at all.”.
Following the audit, it was decided to submit petitions to the Russian EMERCOM, to the Ministry of Public Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, to the Federal Medical and Biological Agency, to the Russian Federal Forestry Agency, to the Russian Agency for Health and Consumer Rights, and to the Standing Committee of the Union State; as well as to send information letters to the Council of Ministers of the Union State, to the Standing Committee of the Union State, to the Federal Property Management Agency, and to the Federal State Statistics Service. The report on the audit results will be submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Union of Belarus and Russia and to the Council of Ministers of the Union State.