EU-financed projects worth more than BGN 2 million should be considered first-class investments, a move that would double the speed of administrative servicing, according to Tomislav Donchev, Bulgaria’s minister in charge of EU funds absorption.
Alongside fast-track administrative support, Bulgaria’s first-class investors also get the right to purchase state property with no tender of competition as well as receive government assistance in infrastructure development adjoining their projects.
The proposed changes to the Investment Promotion Act will apply to investment projects funded under operational programmes Regional Development, Transport and Environment. Eligible candidates involve local governments, the government's Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA), state-run National Railway Infrastructure Company as well as the institutions related to marine and river transport.
The Bulgarian parliament also plans to adopt a new law on European financing designed to streamline and speed up EU funds absorption procedures, said Monika Panayotova, chairperson of the respective parliamentary committee. She said that over the past year, paid EU financing has increased from 1% to 7% and contracted financing has grown from 10% to 34%.
Bulgaria pays an average of BGN 10 million under operational programmes each week and has funneled out upwards of BGN 34 million in the last week of August, according to Tomislav Donchev. He said this shows a sustainable uptrend in payments to beneficiaries.
But the real picture is not that rosy as on day 1,340 of its EU accession on January 1, 2007 Bulgaria has contracted just 34.5% out of the total EUR 8 billion it is entitled to and only 1,217 days remain by the end of 2013, which marks the end of the current EU budget, warned Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) MP Dimcho Mihalevski. He estimated that the government has to pay out EUR 113 million per month to absorb the entire allocation.