Банкеръ Weekly


Environment Ministry Wastes Millions on Surveys and Reports

A true bewilderment has been aroused by the Environment Ministry's attempts to catch up with its colossal gap in the absorption of funds under Environment OP. Instead of really rolling up their sleeves and getting to work, hundreds of officials in the ministry of Nona Karadzhova have focused on tasks that are quite apart from the national priorities in the field of ecology. Anyway they absorb significant portions of financial resources coming from the EU programmes.

Apart from the tender for exclusive luxury vehicles for which the BANKER wrote in detail in its previous issue, an example of extravagance with respect to the European funds is the procedure for selecting a consultant to evaluate the Environment programme and the information campaign to promote its results. For this work, the winner will receive nearly BGN1.2 million - although it will have to prepare accurately four reports and to conduct several interviews. More unacceptable is the fact that this solid amount seems to go for something Minister Karadzhova and her subordinates in any case already know - that the spending on environment is not going well.

Firstly, the consultant will be asked to do the monitoring of media publications related to Environment OP. The minimum requirement is to cover the national print and broadcast electronic media, the main regional newspapers and websites and the information collected must be forwarded daily via e-mail to the managing body of the programme. Moreover, the experts will have to make a content analysis of the articles. All this would not be so strange, if the ministry did not kept detailed press clipping at present, for which probably a certain official gets a monthly pay. The specifically hired for this purpose consultant, however will get for this monitoring services BGN360,000 over the next two years.

Almost BGN350,000 will go to the consultant to prepare interim assessments of the Environment programme in following three years. Clearly, however, the sweetest and most profitable task will be to complete a mid-term evaluation of the programme. Only for this report a sum of BGN480,000 is provided, although the future findings in it are already clear now. This evaluation study is to cover the period from the beginning of the programme (January 1, 2007-A) till the end of 2010, and according to statistics for these four years only 8.5 percent (BGN245 million) was absorbed out of the total BGN2.86 billion.

In this period no big contract has been concluded. And no specific results have been achieved as the first approved projects (at the end of the last Cabinet's term in office) were canceled after criticism from the European Commission that they fund mostly inefficient, oversized and non-priority projects. The facts speak for themselves - there is still no complete draft design for the integrated water cycle or regional landfills, which according to EU requirements had to be ready before the end of last year.

Around this procedure there are other interesting details. Requirements for applicants are very high - they must have made at least BGN1.8 million in turnover over the last two years, while BGN1.2 million of that money must have come from contracts for subject analysis, studies or evaluations of programmes . In addition, participants must have consulted at least three projects under the programme and have provided technical assistance for at least two contracts.

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