FIRST ANNUAL REPORT ON SAPARD APPROVED BY EC COMMISSIONERS
On July 10, during the fifth regular session of the committee for monitoring the pre-accession programme for assisting agriculture in the EU canididate countries, commissioners of the EC approved the first annual report on the implementation of SAPARD in Bulgaria. A total of 617 projects, with aggregate investment worth of BGN397.4MN, have been approved under the SAPARD programme. Subsidies of BGN195.4MN have been released for them. So far Bulgaria has utilized 36% of the EU subsidies under the five-year financial agreement for 2000, when the implementation of the programme was launched in Bulgaria. Only 18% of the funds, which the country could get in 2001 were utilized, the Agriculture State Fund (which was entitled to act as a payment agency for financing under SAPARD) reported. You should not worry about that. Estonia is the only EU candidate country which has entirely fulfilled its first annual agreement, Allan Wilkinson, head of the Management of SAPARD Programmes department with the EC's Agriculture Directorate General, announced. However, he did not mention that Bulgaria was the first country that started the implementation of the SAPARD programme. Estonia joined a month and a half later, and the other EU candidates - in a year.During its session on July 10 the committee for monitoring the programme also approved the panels of experts which will be monitoring the implementation of the six new measures for investments in farms, which concern the improvement of marketing and processing of agricultural products, and expansion of the economic activities in rural regions.