Lords of EU Funds in Bulgaria
Much has been written about the new European programmes, about the allocation of resources and the priorities to be financed. One key question, however, is still waiting for a reply - who exactly will approve, sign and verify the projects? Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, who is responsible for EU funds is performing coordinating functions and is not involved in the operational work. In fact, the distribution of the billions of euros is performed by several administrative structures that are selected for management, control and audit. What depends on them is not only the presentation of the country in the implementation of the financial assistance from Brussels, but also the ability for businesses to actually get to that money. The names of their leaders are shrouded in fog, and their appointments are anything but public. Very often it is even not clear when and for what reasons a person in charge is replaced by another one.
For example, how companies can quickly and easily get their hands on more than two billion levs under the new Operational Programme "Competitiveness and Innovation"? With strict adherence to the instructions and the vague guidelines this definitely is not going to happen. Controversial will be the experience with hiring professionals. What has always been a prerequisite for success in Bulgaria are warm relationships with the right people. And in the case of the European funds for business the crucial word has the Director of the General Directorate "European Funds for Competitiveness" of the Ministry of Economy - Antonia Dorosieva. Under the nose of her boss, Bozidar Lukarski, who seems to be more busy with other things rather than the management of the economy, the lady in question orchestrates everything associated with that programme - from planning and opening of schemes for financing to the actual payment of money. Important role in this process also play her subordinates: Lyudmila Tozeva in her capacity of the Head of "Programming, monitoring and evaluation of the operational programe", and Mustafa Chaushov - chief expert in the same department.
Despite the key role of Antonia Dorosieva, there is no public information when she was appointed to this position. According to insider's information made available to the BANKER weekly, she took the position at the time of the caretaker government of Georgi Bliznashki as the previous Director of General Directorate "European Funds for Competitiveness" was the scandalous Eli Milusheva.
Otherwise, this is not the first time Dorosieva enters into the special capacity of a director of "European Funds for Competitiveness". Between June 4, 2011 and April 5, 2012 she was the acting Head of European programmes for businesses. Before that she had managed the financial department of the same Directorate in the Ministry of Economy, as evidenced by her declaration submitted in 2009 and 2011 for lack of conflict of interest. It is strange why she still has not issued such a declaration for this year.
The other programme that Bulgarian companies can directly benefit from - "Human Resources Development" is managed by the General Directorate "European Funds, International Programmes and Projects" in the Ministry of Social Affairs. The unit is also entrusted with the management of funds for youth employment initiatives, and the programme, which is funded by the European Fund for the support of the people in greatest need. Now its director is Gergana Koleshanska-Damyanova. She also recently took office and like Dorosieva owes her appointment to the cabinet "Bliznashki". Previously Koleshanska was the head of the "Programming and Planning" unit in the directorate. And if one goes back, they will find her name in the now defunct Ministry of State Administration and Administrative Reform, where she was head of the "Programming and Negotiation" Department in the sector "Management of Projects and Programmes".
A curious detail is that before her, the programme manager for human resources development was Natalia Efremova, wife of the healthcare minister in the government of Simeon Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha - Slavcho Bogoyev. She became Chief of the General Directorate "European Funds, International Programmes and Projects" at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy in July 2012, when the power was again in the hands of the now ruling GERD, but was kept at the position during the period in office of Plamen Oresharski. It seems this was the reason why the people of Mr. Borissov lifted their confidence from her.