Procedures for nearly 2 billion BGN will be announced by the end of the year under the Development of Regions Programme 2021-2027

Procedures for nearly 2 billion BGN will be announced by the end of the year under the Development of Regions

16 Mar 2023 | 16:15

2023 is key for the closure of the Operational Programme “Regions in Growth” 2014-2020 and the start of investments under this programme

 

Procedures for nearly 2 billion BGN will be announced by the end of the year under the Development of Regions Programme 2021-2027. This was announced by Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Desislava Georgieva, who chaired the first meeting of the newly formed Monitoring Committee for the programme. The event was attended by representatives of the Directorate General for Regional and Settlement Policy at the European Commission, mayors of municipalities, deputy ministers from the ministries, beneficiaries of the programme, experts from various departments, representatives of NGOs and business organisations, etc. Deputy Minister Georgieva noted that the amount represents about 65% of the total budget of the programme for the period 2021-2027, which amounts to BGN 3.6 billion. It will work in parallel on its two priorities - Integrated Urban Development and Integrated Territorial Development of Regions. Measures for Integrated Territorial Investments are at an advanced stage and will involve more significant resources.

“We are in communication with all the managing authorities of the other European programmes that will contribute funds to the implementation of the integrated development approach. “We expect to launch the calls for applications in the next two months,” Georgieva said. She clarified that the support is divided into two phases, the first of which will be concept applications. The regional development councils, in which different stakeholders participate, will play an important role. They will have to prioritise investments according to the needs in the region, i.e. the most important projects for each region. At a later stage, each managing authority of the programmes contributing to the integrated approach will launch calls for proposals so that the actual contracts can be concluded and funds allocated to the approved territorial investments.

“Now the most important thing is to select the key investments for both priorities,” the deputy regional minister said. The public procurement will be announced next year after the contracts with the managing authorities are signed, she clarified and said that this year will be focused on selecting the important investments under the two priorities of the programme.

During the meeting, deputy minister Georgieva also presented the progress on the implementation of the Operational Programme “Regions in Growth” 2014-2020. To date, BGN 3.054 billion or 97% of the total budget of the programme has been contracted. BGN 2,331 billion have been disbursed, representing 74% of the budget. EC certified funds are 61% or almost BGN 2 billion. In the remaining 9 months, the efforts of the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works will be focused on minimizing the risk of loss of program funds due to the crisis with the drastic increase in the price of construction materials, which delays the implementation of various projects, mainly in the field of renovation of cultural facilities, educational institutions and health infrastructure.

“We are in constant contact with the European Commission to find workable solutions and to help beneficiaries to minimise and overcome this risk, underlined deputy minister Georgieva. She reminded that the adopted price indexation methodology is applied and beneficiaries can apply for additional funds. “We are currently processing requests for 71 annexes to already concluded contracts for projects worth about BGN 35 million, and half of the annexes have been signed,” she said. And she expressed confidence that the measure would allow construction activities to continue so that the projects could be completed by the end of the year. Monthly meetings are being held with the beneficiaries of the projects at risk, constant coordination with the EC is being maintained, flexibility is being given in the implementation of the projects, etc. so that no funds are lost.

Agnes Monfret from the Directorate General Regional and Settlement Policy at the EC stressed that the beneficiaries must work together with the managing authorities, mobilise and in the shortest possible time in cooperation and coordination to successfully complete the Operational Programme “Regions in Growth” 2014-2020. She also noted that a lot of efforts will also be needed for the successful implementation of the Regions in Growth Programme 2021-2027. It needs to prepare enough good projects and finalise the programming because the big challenge will be the integrated territorial approach. It must start on time, with well-designed projects.