BULGARIA TO BE ALLOCATED ANOTHER EUR54MN UNDER SAPARD
The second annual financial agreement under the pre-accession SAPARD programme was signed in Brussels on February 19 by Finance Minister Milen Velchev, the Bulgarian Minister of Agriculture and Forestry Mehmed Dikme and the EU Agriculture Commissioner Franz Fischler. Under the agreement the European Commission will extend to Bulgaria another EUR54MN, to be utilized within two years. Bulgarian entrepreneurs may ask for financial support under SAPARD if their business plans are in three spheres: investments in agriculture, processing and marketing of agricultural and fish products, and diversification of economic activities. All of them are aimed to ensure alternative employment for farmers. Another six spheres of activities, to be financially assisted, will be approved. SAPARD's future priorities will include forestry, the establishement of wholesale markets, and setting up producers organisations.During his visit in Brussels Finance Minister Velchev met with the Budget Commissioner Ms Michaele Schreider, and Mr. Wanden Abeele, Director General of taxation policy and customs union at the EC. The reform in Bulgarian customs and the country's customs policy were discussed. Mr. Velchev discussed with experts from the European Commission Bulgaria's progress in the negotiations for EU membership. The Agiculture Ministry's idea to set up a guarantee fund for financing agricultural projects, approved under SAPARD, was approved in Brussels. The amount to be allocated to Bulgaria under the EU pre-accession programme totals EUR94MN, and 64 projects have already been approved.