Deputy PM Plougchieva: Funds under Operational Programmes Are Not at Risk

Deputy PM Plougchieva: Funds under Operational Programmes Are Not at Risk

The funds, allocated for Bulgarian under the operational programmes, are not at risk, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of the absorption of the EU funds Meglena Plougchieva said.

An assessment of the compliance of the separate operational programme is currently underway and it has to be confirmed by the European Commission as well, she explained.

Plougchieva is on a visit to Brussels as of Friday. She had a meeting with Dirk Ahner, Director-General of the European Commission's Regional Policy DG.

She familiarized in detail Bulgarian journalists and, later, journalists from big foreign media, such as Financial Times, BBC, France Presse, Reuters and EU Observer with what has been
done to overcome the weaknesses regarding the pre-accession programmes, PHARE, SAPARD and ISPA.

Noting that the highly problematic National Road Infrastructure Fund has prompted the blocking of both operational programmes Transport and Regional Development, Plougchieva voiced expectation that the anticipated amendments to the Roads Act be passed conclusively by July 23. Under the changes the Fund will be transformed into a Road Infrastructure National Agency, directly reporting to the Council of Ministers, and having an independent Supervisory Board with a five-year term. A German consultant is expected to work at the Board in the course of one year.

Regarding the SAPARD programme, Plougchieva said that the action plan, requested from Bulgaria, has been drafted. Based on its implementation the Commission will decide whether to renew payments. The plan has to be submitted to the Commission by July 25.

She said she will insist that the effect of the SAPARD programme for Bulgaria be extended by end-2009.

Bulgaria will be visited by missions of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) on a monthly basis, Plougchieva further said.

She would not commit to predictions about the content of the Commission's upcoming reports on Bulgaria. "I am trying to do the best so as not to lose EU funding and so that problems be solved," she stated.

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