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According to the annual report of the parliamentary committee on European Affairs and Oversight of European Funds only 1.3 percent of the funds available under EU operational programs in 2009 were used
7 February, 2009

The annual report on the absorption of EU funds in Bulgaria for 2009, was presented by the parliamentary committee on European Affairs and Oversight of EU Funds at a meeting in the town of Pravets of February 7, 2010. It was attended by Yuliana Nikolova, Secretary of the Council for EU Funds Management, representatives of state and regional administration’s departments, managing European funds.

The chair of the parliamentary committee on European Affairs and Oversight of EU funds Svetlin Tanchev reported the extremely low percentage of acquisition of the funds under the EU operational programs - only 1.3 % of all available funds. The annual report for 2009 considers the 21 programs financed by the EU. Bulgaria is the only EU country, whose Funds Compliance Assessment Reports have been twice returned and still lacks even one such funds compliance assessment approved, says the report.

According to the report there exist a significant discrepancy between the allocated for Bulgaria, under the operational programs, EURO 1, 4 billion and the actual payments received, amounting so far at EURO 72 million.

There is a real risk much of the pre-accession assistance funds, mainly under ISPA, not to be absorbed. Cases of conflict of interests, protracted tender appeal procedures, slow process of payment to beneficiaries, and also high pricing of the bids are identified as being consistent problems.

The report also points at the heavy administrative procedures of the EU funds absorption. It shows as unsatisfactory the number of infrastructure projects for which actual construction is completed.

The level of certification expenditures appropriated, just 0,8 percent of the available for that purpose resources, was also deemed unsatisfactory. The report points to the lack of priorities in determining the subsidies and grants schemes assistance.

Some key infrastructure projects under Operational Programs Transport and Environment have a low degree of project preparedness, according to the report. It shows also irregularities in the organization of procurement procedures and excessive use of the direct contracting procedure in the environmental sector.

The report contains the Committee’s recommendation to make so that the process of the last six months in increasing the absorption of EU funds continues further in order for the country to catch up with the missed so far. The report concludes with the need to generate real benefits to society and to achieve sustainable results.

According to Svetlin Tanchev, one of the measures to overcome the problems with the absorption of EU funds, should be to pass a new law to prevent the conflict of interests and to strenghten the administrative capacity. He however indicated that the work pace of the administration will not be accelerated by increasing its number but through making it more efficient.
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