By Fabien Hisbacq
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The Regional Chamber of Accounts (CRC) Occitanie audited the accounts and the management of the departmental council of Ariège from 2018. She indicates that the institution should reorient its action in certain areas in its final observations report delivered on March 22, 2022.
Spending to develop tourism
The CRC Occitanie first notes a strong economic commitment of the Department (€22.28 million between 2018 and 2021)“despite the changes brought about by the law on the new territorial organization of the Republic (NOTRé). “Between 2018 and 2021, the financial resources allocated by the departmental council to economic policy remained consequent: 73% of expenditure was for the development of tourism, agriculture and fishing”, notes the chamber, specifying that this falls well within its field of competence.
Let the communities of municipalities act
Except that “its strategy has also led it to intervene, in support of public establishments for inter-municipal cooperation (EPCI)”. For example, communities of municipalities. And this in the field of aid for business real estate (€2.2m between 2018 and 2020). This sometimes derogates from the provisions introduced by the law Ourwith regard in particular to business incubator management. “The county council must now leave all their place to the EPCIswho have jurisdiction in economic matters”, asks the chamber.
In addition, “the department holds a significant place within Ariège Attractiveness agency which was created in 2017 following the abolition of the economic development competence”. The purpose of this agency is to contribute to the competitiveness, attractiveness, cohesion and solidarity of the territories located in the department of Ariège. “In addition to the difficulties relating to the status of the agency and to the provision by the department of one of its agents to exercise the functions of director, certain actions developed by the association are likely to link the intervention of the department to the field of economic development for which he no longer has direct competence”notes the Regional Chamber of Accounts.
The management of the health crisis analyzed
Ariège has also “suffered the effects of the health crisis in proportions comparable to the national average”. The community responded by maintaining its traditional intervention expenditure in terms of subsidies to associations and public actors in its territory, especially ski resorts. It has also chosen not to contribute to the national solidarity fund but to contribute to the L’Occal regional fund, up to 552,000 euros. This again contravenes the framework set by the NOTRe law.
” The community must draw up a complete assessment of its economic interventions in response to the health crisis”, asks the CRC Occitanie.
Dependence on the economic situation
Finally, the Regional Chamber of Accounts asks the Department to refocus its activity. “Between 2019 and 2020, the number of RSA beneficiaries increased by 11.5% and the corresponding expense increased from €36.8 to €39.7 million. The community remains in the short term subject to the hazard of the trajectory of these expenses, ”specifies the chamber.
” Although satisfactory, maintaining the level of self-financing is partly linked to compensatory mechanisms, some of which are not sustainable” and “the tax reform accentuates the dependence of local authority revenues on the economic situation”.
Risk of increase in social spending
An uncomfortable situation judges the regional chamber of accounts. It should “lead the Department to disengage from economic actions under the jurisdiction of the EPCIs in its territory in order to refocus on the heart of its missions, particularly social spending, which present a structural risk of progression”.
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