Банкеръ Weekly



The lack of coordination among the departments has been discussed as a major problem of the Bulgarian administration for years. It was also mentioned in the most recent report of the European Commission (EC) on Bulgaria's progress in the integration into the European community. Nevertheless, local politicians keep pretending to not see it. The behaviour of the Deputy Prime Minister Plamen Panayotov proved it once again. Earlier this month the Council for European Integration led by Mr. Panayotov announced a 15-day earlier deadline by which the 2002 PHARE program financial memoranda agreements had to be signed. Initially, the European Commission set November 30, 2004 as a deadline. However, on November 1 the Council decided that the agreements should have been signed no later than November 15. The decision is going to guarantee a high percentage of bargaining of the 2002 PHARE resources which amount to EUR122.9MN, because if problems arise on certain agreements the Council will be able to take corrective measures in order to meet the deadline scheduled by the European Commission, the cabinet of Mr. Panayotov announced.The idea is not so bad - to make the administration work faster and leave time for correction of possible mistakes. However, its implementation seems impossible. The Ministry of Regional Development officials said they would not be able to meet the new deadline fixed by the Council for European Integration which is the highest body responsible for the European affairs in the country. There is technological time that cannot be shortened and, what is more, cannot be shortened in the last minute, the officials explained. However, they are convinced they would finish their work by the end of November, in accordance with the agreement reached with the EC. There are several projects for which agreements will be signed a few days before the deadline, they added. It turns out that the Council for European Integration presided by Plamen Panayotov has taken a decision without even knowing whether or not it can be fulfilled. On November 16, the Ministry of Finance announced how much of the money launched by the EC under the ISPA and SAPARD programs has been utilized by October 31, 2004. The figures are not optimistic. For example, only EUR217.965MN have been bargained of all the EUR664.181MN worth memoranda signed by Sofia and Brussels. The amount actually paid for financing of projects in the field of transport infrastructure and environment is BGN52.753MN, or 24% of the budget of the program. Among the few big projects financed by ISPA and showing satisfactory utilisation of the funds is the one for electrification and reconstruction of the Plovdiv-Svilengrad railroad. It reported the utilisation of 73.41% of the financial resources launched which total EUR153MN. The project for improvement of the water sector in Smolyan has progressed, too. Sixty per cent of the resources provided for it have been utilized. However, nothing has been paid for the construction of the Lyulin highway as well as for the building of waste water purifying stations in the Meden Rudnik quarter in Bourgas and in the towns of Montana, Sevlievo, Popovo, and Lovech.In turn, the SAPARD program for farmers support has slightly progressed. Since it started operating in Bulgaria, local governments and the EC have signed agreements totalling EUR427.985MN. Cofinancing by the national budget amounts to EUR142.661MN. Therefore, the budget of the program totals EUR641.834MN, of which slightly more than EUR213MN (33.34%) have been paid to farmers so far.

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