Original article (in Slovenian) was published on 5/09/2023; Author: Petra Jerič
The €34,139.08 paid by the Ministry of Public Administration to Today is a New Day during the August floods was a payment under a 2021 open call.
On 23 August, the portal Nova24tv.si reported that the Ministry of Public Administration had in August transferred €34,139.08 to Today is a New Day, an NGO of which Filip Muki Dobranić is an associate and co-founder. It claimed that the ministry was “in an extraordinary hurry” to transfer the money “when houses were being inundated”, i.e., at the time of the August floods. The reasons for the alleged time pressure were not described, so this claim cannot be independently verified.
According to Erar, an application that tracks the spending of public funds, Today is a New Day received a total of €34,139.08 from the Ministry of Public Administration in two instalments on 4 August. As we reported last August, one way NGOs such as Today is a New Day are funded is through open calls published by the ministry responsible for a specific policy area.
The Ministry of Public Administration explained that it concluded a contract with the NGO in 2021, that is, during the previous government’s term, on the basis of an open call for the digital transformation of NGOs and voluntary organisations and improvement of their users’ participation in information society in 2021-2023. A total of 47 NGOs were selected for funding.
According to the funding agreement, a copy of which was provided to Razkrinkavanje.si by the NGO, the ministry co-finances the project Open Accounts: Transparent use of funds to increase public trust and involvement, which is being implemented by Today is a New Day in a consortium with the Organisation for a Participatory Society, the Postojna Youth Centre, and Servis 8.
The ministry awarded the consortium €193,930.57, of which €122,326.47 has been paid so far. The ministry explained that every four months the NGO must submit payment requests in which it has to demonstrate progress against the project’s objectives with a substantive and financial report.
Maja Cimperman from Today is a New Day explained to Razkrinkavanje.si that for each four-month period, they can apply for an advance payment, and at the end of the reporting period the ministry pays the difference between the reported costs and the advance payment.
She added that on 4 August, the ministry paid €14,256.10 as the difference between the reported costs and the advance payment for January-April this year, and €19,882.98 as an advance payment for costs incurred between May and August.
Since Today is a New Day receives funds for all partners of the consortium, the bulk of the August funds have been transferred to the consortium partners.
According to the ministry, the consortium will develop three open-source digital applications aimed at promoting greater and lasting financial transparency of NGOs. An application for displaying and visualising the financial performance of NGOs is already in place, and the other two will be launched by the end of the year, they said.
In addition to Today Is a New Day, on 4 August the Ministry also transferred €8,823.12 to the Slovenian Red Cross and €21,133 to Transparency International Slovenia, all on the basis of the above-mentioned open call.
Post-flood recovery publicly financed
On 5 August, the government allocated a total of €10 million to the Slovenian Red Cross and Slovenian Caritas to help the population in the affected areas, and on 10 August, by approving the revised budget, it allocated an additional €520 million for post-flood recovery and assistance to those affected.
At the end of August, the government also submitted to the National Assembly a draft law on emergency measures to deal with the consequences of the August 2023 floods and landslides, which would, among other things, exempt residents in the affected areas from paying for electricity and natural gas. The proposal also provides for an increase in the solidarity aid they can apply for.
The revised budget and the emergency law were approved by the National Assembly on 31 August.
On 9 August, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visited Slovenia and gave assurances that the Commission would provide Slovenia with €400 million from the EU Solidarity Fund by the end of 2024, of which €100 million would be received this year.
We informed Nova24tv.si of the findings and inadvertently provided the editors with a working draft of our fact-check, for which we later apologised. The portal did not respond to our questions with any substantive answers, and the director of the production house Nova Hiša, Boris Tomašič, mainly responded with questions such as “did you obtain the documentation”, “was the project implemented” and “do you just take the ministry’s word for it”. He also threatened the journalist that he would report us to “Google Ireland and European institutions”.
The claim that the ministry transferred public funds to Today is a New Day while the people of Slovenia were coping with the floods is manipulative. The €34,000 transferred by the ministry on 4 August was paid based on an open call published in 2021.