Accounting Chamber Raises Alarms Over Film Agency's Financial Conduct
The Prosecutor General's Office is set to delve into the intricacies of an appeal from the Accounting Chamber concerning the activities of the Film Agency under the Ministry of Culture for the years 2022-2023. This revelation follows an audit conducted by the chamber, shedding light on concerning discrepancies and financial irregularities within the Film Agency.
The report from the Accounting Chamber indicates a comprehensive examination of the cinema agency's operations, encompassing its owned studios and the State Film Fund. Specifically, the audit scrutinized the utilization of the 10.7 million manats allocated to the Agency from the state budget during the specified period.
Disturbingly, the findings of the audit reveal a stark misalignment between funds disbursed and actual film production. Private film studios received payments for the production of nine feature films, yet the actual output fell short by 2.7 times the planned quantity. Furthermore, an excess expenditure of 34.8% was recorded for a single film.
The report unveils a historical lapse in film production, highlighting that no films were produced based on 20 allocated scenarios from 2015 to 2020, despite an allocation of 282.5 thousand manats. The audit raises questions about the efficiency and financial stewardship of the Film Agency during this period.
In the most recent review, covering 2022-2023, it was revealed that the parameters outlined in contracts for films produced at public and private studios were not met. Films were transferred to the State Film Fund with varying specifications, further compounding concerns about transparency and adherence to contractual obligations.
Additionally, the report criticizes the handling of funds related to the Jafar Jabbarli Azerbaijanfilm film studio, where finances were predominantly directed towards showcasing films from the Soviet era. Meanwhile, the screening of films produced by state order failed to meet expected standards. The Nizami Cinema Center, under the Ministry's purview, exhibited only eight national films in 2022 and 14 in January-July 2023, all originating from private film studios.
Given the gravity of the identified irregularities, the Board of the Accounting Chamber has forwarded the results of the audit to the Prosecutor General's Office, suspecting potential criminal misconduct. As the investigation unfolds, questions surrounding financial management, adherence to contracts, and the overall governance of the Film Agency come to the forefront, demanding a thorough examination of the agency's practices.