Finance Minister Expects Balanced Budget at Year's End

Finance Minister Expects Balanced Budget at Year's End

The government has already taken steps to cut expenditures at the ministries and to increase budget revenue collection. These moves are expected to ensure a balanced budget at the year's end, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Simeon Djankov said at Parliament's Question Time on Friday. He was asked by former finance minister Plamen Oresharski if a budget update would be necessary.

At this point the government does not intend to take new loans from the IMF, Djankov said. A regular IMF mission is expected on September 10 for talks about a review of public finances and an analysis of the economic situation. European Commission representatives have also been invited.

It is high time that Bulgaria launched an active policy for joining the exchange rate mechanism (ERM2) first, and the Eurozone at a later date. Under its EU Accession Treaty, Bulgaria has the right and the duty to introduce the euro as legal tender, Djankov said.

The Finance Ministry has sent the European Commission an expenditures report and an application for interim payments under Operational Programme Administrative Capacity (OPAC), thus meeting the requirements of Regulation 1083/2006. These payments are made to reimburse actual expenditure incurred by the Member State, so there is no risk to advance payments, Djankov said, answering a question by Meglena Plougchieva about work on OPAC after the State Administration Ministry was closed down. There are over 230 beneficiaries under this programme, 25 ongoing procedures, 1,288 proposed projects and 258 approved projects worth 146 million leva, said Plougchieva, who described OPAC as one of the most successful programmes. She recalled that 30 million leva must be paid for the projects under implementation by the year's end.

The OPAC Directorate at the Finance Ministry is already performing the functions of Managing Authority, Djankov said. As of August 11, issues concerning the normal functioning of the operational programme were settled, the Finance Ministry initiated amendments to national law and started work on changing the name of the Managing Authority and of some of the beneficiaries.

In a letter to Commissioner Vladimir Spidla, responsible for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, the finance minister raised issues concerning amendments to the OPAC text and is waiting for a reply. The only condition for a positive resolution is a decision of the OPAC Monitoring Committee approving the changes, Djankov said. A compliance assessment will be made only for the management and control systems.

In September a commission of Interior Ministry experts, a representative of the Finance Ministry and an outside expert will evaluate the offers for procurement of helicopters to the Interior Ministry, Djankov said, answering a question.

The technical specifications of the project were prepared by the Interior Ministry and were submitted to the Finance Ministry on March 19, 2009. The public procurement procedure was launched on April 1, but acting on a recommendation by the evaluation commission, the Finance Ministry terminated the procedure on May 25 because the offers submitted by the participants did not meet the terms announced in advance, Djankov said.

At its June 8 meeting, the Committee for Management, Monitoring and Control of the Schengen Facility decided that a new procedure be opened for the purchase of two light and one medium helicopter. The procedure is in line with the 30-million-euro budget of the project approved in 2008, Djankov said.

On June 24, the Interior Ministry submitted to the Finance Ministry revised technical specifications for the helicopters and the public procurement procedure was re-announced on July 1, Djankov said.

Source: BTA

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