EC RESUMES FINANCING OF BUSINESS INCUBATORS
The European Commission (EC) will resume financing of the frozen project for setting up business incubators in seven underdeveloped Bulgarian municipalities, it became clear after a meeting between the Finance Minister Milen Velchev and Dimitris Kourkoulas, Head of the Delegation of the EC in Sofia. The EUR3MN project is being financed under the European Union's PHARE Programme. The funds were approved by the EC in 2000 and implementation started in 2001. However, early this year the EC froze the funding over suspicions of foul actions on the part of Ivo Kostov, an officer from the Ministry of Economy. The mayors of the municipalities, included in the project, complained then that Mr. Kostov had openly lobbied to them in favour of certain companies. The corrupt officer had recommended to the mayors the services of individual companies to consult them in the establishment of business incubators. However, Brussels reacted adequately to that typically Bulgarian scam and froze the project's financing.An inspection, carried out by the Bulgarian authorities , ascertained Ivo Kostov's blame and he was fired.The Finance Minister Milen Velchev specified that his meeting with Mr. Kourkoulas was to discuss the details for reopening the project. The meeting was attended also by Sofia Kassidova, Deputy Minister of Economy and Hasan Hasan, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works.The Head of the Delegation of the EC in Sofia Dimitris Kourkoulas, on his part, said he'd inform Brussles about the reached agreement and specified that a written approval for resuming the project's funding could be expected soon.