Public funds are one of the most important instruments available to public authorities to achieve their policy objectives Through subsidies and benefits, they can stimulate desired social, technological or innovative developments or increase the welfare of their citizens.
The provision of public funds as well as the accountability of their use is bound by a great number of legal rules. That is because the provision and the spending of that money must be democratically legitimate, effective, lawful and verifiable. If money is spent on activities it was not intended for, the government may recover it – with coercive measures if necessary.
The provision of public resources, control of their expenditure and their possible recovery raise a great many questions, such as: can an administrative body leave the provision of public resources to a distantly-placed fund? And if it can, what points must be taken into account? What innovative ways are there to deploy scarce public resources in as efficient a way as possible? By providing a guarantee or a loan, so that the available budget revolves and can thus be deployed repeatedly? How can that be organised legally in a subsidy scheme, subsidy decision and the associated implementation agreements?
What is an efficient and legally sound way to distribute a limited budget of public resources? How do I decide on a distribution mechanism (tender or 'first come – first serve')? How does the government ensure the fair, careful and transparent distribution of subsidies? What is, with a view to an adequate procedure, a suitable and efficient degree of transparency during the application phase, the objection phase and the appeal phase?
What steps should an administrative body take if, for example as a result of changed (political) insights, it wishes to terminate a current subsidy relationship in a careful and cost-efficient way.
What are the options available to an administrative body to recover public funds that have not been correctly accounted for and/or spent? What possibilities are available for set-offs? And what action should be taken if funds are not repaid voluntarily and collection measures are called for? What actions are needed to prevent public funds from being diverted before the collection proceedings have been completed? How can central and local governments prevent critical questions being asked by their own accountant or audit office and how should such questions – in the event they are still asked – be answered properly?
With its team of experienced experts in administrative law, subsidy law and private law, Pels Rijcken is well equipped to assist you. Our team can thus help you design a practical and legally robust subsidy scheme; one that will ensure you will achieve your policy objectives. We will advise and assist you regarding the issues and procedures associated with all phases of the subsidy process. From the first discussions on the set-up of a subsidy scheme, to the designing of the procedures and the formulation of concrete arrangements and protocols. In addition, we are happy to assist public authorities in discussions and disputes on these subjects, from the granting of subsidies to the collection of reclaimed subsidy funds and prescription issues.