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ope@moew.government.bg
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Jun 14, 2010

OPE MANAGING AUTHORITY MEETS EU COMMISSION OBLIGATIONS

Following the active dialogue with DG Regional Policy, Bulgarian Ministry of Environment and Water introduced corrective measures with regard to the problematic investments in the water sector.

In April 2010 DG Regional Policy Director-General Dirk Ahner expressed the Commission's overall satisfaction and highly appreciated the corrective actions, which led to a cash-flow recovery for projects that are in line with the sound financial management principle.

As a result of water projects' screening the Ministry of Environment Water developed 23 annexes to infrastructural projects and 114 annexes to technical assistance projects. The annexes vary in contents to respond to the specific problems and stage of implementation of each project, but the general provisions that they contain can be summarized as follows:
  • modification of the project scope as recommended by the screening reports;
  • reduction of grant amounts, when necessary in cases of excessive budgets identified or when the reduction of the project scope has led to the reduction of project costs;
  • obligation of the Beneficiary to implement the project in compliance with the new approach and methodology for the selection of project proposals under priority axis 1 of OPE;
  • for technical assistance projects - preparation of a complete and quality investment project if further financing under OPE is sought;
  • extension of the project duration to compensate for the delays caused by the temporary termination of public procurement procedures during the screening undertaken by the MA and the ex-ante control;
  • obligation of the Beneficiary to provide an updated procurement plan and a budget;
  • option for the Contracting Authority to suspend the project implementation in cases of unexpected circumstances and registered irregularities;
  • regulation providing the option of the MA to impose financial corrections on public procurement procedures of OPE beneficiaries, for which irregularities have been identified;
  • obligation for the Beneficiary to perform checks on double financing as regards the implementation of public procurement procedures.
The finalization of the annexes of the group of nine projects is conditional to the finalization of the audit performed by the Executive Agency "Audit of EU Funds", nonetheless necessary measures have been taken meanwhile to ensure the technical coherence of the projects and to implement financial reductions. Finally, as regard the group of projects, for which financing under OPE is withdrawn, 2 out of the 5 infrastructure grant agreements and 8 out of the 32 technical assistance projects have been terminated. The Ministry of Environment and Water and the Ministry of Finance are working in cooperation for the development of a mechanism for the provision of national funding to those technical assistance projects that are in an advanced stage of implementation and therefore can not be canceled.

Information on the results from the screening in the water sector will be presented before the 8-th session of the OPE Monitoring Committee on June 15 in the city of Pomorie. On the agenda there is also an approval of the OPE Annual Progress Report for 2009 and the new Concept for the management of priority axis 3.

The forum will be opened by the Deputy Minister of Environment, Ivelina Vasileva, in her capacity as a Chairman of the Committee. Other guests will be Carsten Rasmussen and Valeri Natan from DG Regional Policy, Milena Novakova from DG Environment and Ondrej Dusek from the European Investment Bank.