EC Rejects Suspending Rural Development Payments to Bulgaria
The European Commission has not suspended rural development payments to Bulgaria, according to Roger Waite, EC Spokesman for Agriculture and Rural Development.
In a Wednesday interview for the Bulgarian National Radio (BNR), he specified that an accounting procedure was underway on costs for 2013 and it was too early to say whether Bulgaria would lose money under the program and to identify the amount of the losses.
"We need some more time to check the exact amount of expenses for last year. Bulgaria spent EUR 396 M on the rural development program in that period and from an accounting point of view we still cannot wrap up the cost approval procedure. However, this does not mean that we will automatically stop payments. The matter is to be discussed today and I hope that we will manage to conclude this procedure in several weeks' time," he said.
Meanwhile, Deputy Agriculture Minister Yavor Gechev also assured that there had been no suspension of EU funding under the rural development program, adding that such claims were a disservice to the country.
Gechev, as cited by the BGNES news agency, explained that the audit report had identified certain weaknesses but the Agriculture Ministry did not agree with some of them and it had requested additional information.
He made clear that Bulgarian authorities did not agree with the alleged irregularities in advance payments and the guarantee fund.
As regards public procurement flaws, Gechev declared that the Agriculture Ministry and the State Fund Agriculture were working to eliminate them.
Earlier on Wednesday, former Prime Minister and current leader of center-right party GERB Boyko Borisov warned that Bulgaria's state budget would be deprived of over BGN 800 M in rural development funding due to the policies of the current government.
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