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Overly generous Munich pays its bills twice

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Overly generous Munich pays its bills twice
Munich administrators were feeling a bit too generous in 2012. Photo: DPA
09:43 CET+01:00
The city of Munich has paid many contractors twice for work they have done for the town. But the answer isn't to be found in the famously generous Bavarian spirit.

After looking at bills paid to contractors in 2012, auditors ascertained that a total of €122,115 had been unnecessarily paid to contractors who had already received compensation for their labour, reports the Süddeutsche Zeitung.

According to the auditors' report, which is to be published on Thursday, the education and building departments were particularly at fault – 88 percent of all double payments came out of these two offices.

The result of the audit are "concerning“ said lead auditor Beatrix Zurek. But she did not believe criminal behaviour was behind most of the double payments – the answer is rather to be found in incompetence on the part of the bureaucrats and a badly organized bookkeeping system.

Munich administration has a "double execution“ billing system, which often leads bureaucrats to mistakenly pay contractors for both the original and the copy of the bill.

The winding path of bureaucracy also played its parts in the mess-ups.

Bills often take so long to reach the right department that bureaucrats hurriedly pay them out, sometimes leading to them being paid several times in the confusion.

In 73 percent of the cases only zero to 30 days lay between the first and second payments – yet nobody noticed.

All the money which was erroneously paid out twice has now been returned to the city.

Local government finances have long been the subject of concern in Germany. Figures from the Federal Offices of Statistics showed that in 2014 municipalities had a budget deficit of around €700 million.

When the Swiss Franc was unpegged from the Euro in a surprise move in early 2015, debts in Germany cities that had borrowed from Switzerland ballooned to the tune of €2 billion within days.

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