EUR50MN TO SUPPORT A PROGRAMME OF THE SOCIAL MINISTRY
The Finance Minister Milen Velchev and the World Bank Director for Bulgaria Andrew Vorkink signed an EUR50.8MN loan agreement. The money will be used for financing the Social Investment and Employment Project (SIEP). The initiative aims at raising the living standard of the ethnical minorities in Bulgaria, of the unemployed, and of those from the low-income social brackets. The loan is payable in 17 years. The redemption of the principle will start in the fourth year since the loan has been launched.The project supports a top priority of the Government's programme - the establishment of social capital, said Minister Velchev after signing the agreement. Mr. Vorkink said he hoped that the growing employment trend, reported in 2002, will continue.The amount necessary for implementation of the project (for which the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy will be responsible) is EUR67.77MN. The Government will provide EUR17MN of the total sum. The project will finance 300 or 400 initiatives for improvement of the infrastructure of extremely poor municipalities. Resources will be provided for two types of infrastructural projects - small ones (worth up to USD80,000) and projects of larger scale (which need up to USD200,000 in order to be implemented). Besides, municipalities will provide extra qualification services and financial assistance to the small business. These initiatives are expected to open new jobs and to provide extra qualification skills to some 25,000 unemployed people.