Bulgaria will absorb no less than 20 per cent of the European Union funds that it has been allocated this year - double the combined amount it used in the previous four years, according to Tomislav Donchev, the Cabinet minister in charge of EU funds."So far, more than 11.3 per cent of the whole sum allocated has been disbursed which in absolute terms is equal to 1.775 billion leva (907.6 million euro). By the year's end we expect to have disbursed at least three billion leva worth of EU funds," Tomislav Donchev said in an interview with SeeNews.This compares with an absorption rate of 8.6 per cent at the end of 2010 in neighbouring Romania, reported in March by the country's Fiscal Council which advises the government in Bucharest on designing and implementing fiscal policy.The Bulgarian Government has signed agreements with local beneficiaries for a total of seven billion leva worth of funding under EU programmes since 2007, or nearly 46 per cent of the amount available in the 2007-2013 programme period, Donchev said."In the best-case scenario disbursements should catch up with the volume of agreed EU funding," he said.
The three billion leva 2011 disbursement target is equivalent to 16.5 per cent of Bulgarian budget spending planned for the year and 3.9 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product projected in the 2011 Budget.In order to meet the target Bulgaria will need to see more project applications, Donchev said, highlighting both the importance and challenge of major investment projects, which are subject to double approval by the governing body of the respective operational programme and by the European Commission.Instrumental in reaching the 20 per cent target will be the Joint Assistance to Support Projects in European Regions (JASPERS) initiative in the preparation of major projects, as well as the mobilisation of both national resources and international financing, Donchev said. (Source: The Sofia Echo)