Bulgaria will launch by the end of the year a 200 million euro ($288.4 million) fund which will provide financing to local businesses, local media reported on Thursday.
The fund's capital will be raised from unabsorbed funds from the EU's operational programme Competitiveness, business daily Dnevnik (www.dnevnik.bg) quoted deputy economy minister Evgeni Angelov as saying.
The European Commission has given the green light to Bulgaria to launch the lending facility, he added.
The banks that will on-lend money from the fund to businesses will be selected by the autumn at the latest and the first loans will be extended by the year's end or early next year.
Loans will be provided for investment purposes only, not for working capital. The fund will charge no interest on the loans and banks are likely to charge no more than five-to-six percent interest, Angelov said.