Monday, May 14, 2007

You can take the country away from the Communists...

But, the Communists will be up to their old tricks in the Czech Republic:

A federal subsidy that was supposed to help independent farmers compete with hypermarket chains has instead been exploited by the well-connected bosses of big farms.

Last year, about half of the 330 farmers applying for a special subsidy encouraging collectivization were scamming the government, the Association of Private Farmers (ASZ) says. The false claims are inflating the Agriculture Ministry’s budget and denying funds to the private farmers the subsidy was supposed to benefit.

....The president of the ASZ, Stanislav Němec, exposed the issue late last month. He named top members of the Czech Agrarian Chamber and Agricultural Union — which mainly represent large cooperatives formed during the post-communist transformation process of the 1990s — as the prime offenders.

“This case is the result of big contracts between Social Democratic politicians and former communists in the Agricultural Union, because they are all people who have very, very similar personal histories,” said Němec, an independent farmer operating 450 hectares (1,112 acres) in Radonice, north Bohemia.

“A lot of them are former members of the Communist Party,” he added.

....“The loudest promoters of this idea probably think in a way firmly rooted in the former regime. … [They abuse] trust, circumvent the law and ‘milk’ the state,” Němec wrote in a letter published by the ASZ April 23 that listed the 184 owners wrongly taking advantage of the subsidy.

The accused owners operate several farms and collectivized their distribution process on paper for the grant, he said. In reality, though, the farms were already joined because they are all owned by the same company. They do not represent a new partnership.

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