Bulgaria Restores Suspended EU Payments under Regional Development OP
Suspended payments to Bulgaria under the "Regional Development" Operational Program are restored under all axes, according to caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva.
Zaharieva gave a press conference Tuesday after a meeting with representatives of the Bulgarian Construction Chamber and the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria (NAMRB).
She said that the active cooperation between the certifying authority, the managing authority of the "Regional Development" OP and the caretaker Deputy Minister of Regional Development over the past week had resulted in the re-launch of suspended payments under the program.
"Applications worth slightly less than BGN 188 M have been filed with the certifying authority and they will be covered with state budget funds until the European Commission restores payments. Over the next few days, a total of BGN 188 M will be paid out," Zaharieva stated, adding that there would be periodic payments under all axes.
She went on to explain that the Finance Ministry had given assurances for periodic payments in the case of applications for payments by the managing authority of the "Environment" Operational Program.
Caretaker Finance Minister Rumen Porozhanov, who also took part in Tuesday's meeting, explained that it was a priority goal to provide financial resources for the suspended axes of the two operational programs. He also pledged that regular payments would be launched in the next few months.
Svetlana Zhekova, caretaker Minister of Environment and Water, noted that the talks with the EC were a key priority, adding that Bulgaria had to do its job related to the verification and the launch of payments in amounts possible under the budget until the finalization of the talks, which was expected no earlier than October.
Zhekova informed that the Ministry of Environment and Water had withdrawn its request for the certification of BGN 53 M and was preparing a request for a bigger sum which would include more projects.
Krasimir Mirev, Deputy Chair of NAMRB, said that the NAMRB had largely been decapitalized over the past 6-8 months, forced to use its own resources and make sacrifices.
He underscored that some of the municipalities would reconsider the pace with which they participated in the absorption of EU funding under operational programs in the next programming period unless the process was fast-tracked.
Svetoslav Glosov, Chair of the Bulgarian Construction Chamber, said that they had been given assurances by Porozhanov about the restoration of periodic payments and they were also hoping for a solution of the problem with using the Fund for local authorities and governments (FLAG).
Glosov added that they were also hoping to be granted a renegotiation of deadlines under projects which were being delayed due to frozen EU payments.
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