Race to se­cure ESPA fund­ing

Econ­omy Min­istry rush­ing to make tight dead­line to con­clude pre­vi­ous pro­gram and ac­ti­vate new one

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - EVGENIA TZORTZI

The Econ­omy Min­istryis rac­ing against the clock to avoid los­ing Euro­pean Union funds to­tal­ing ap­prox­i­mately 2 bil­lion eu­ros from the Na­tional Strate­gic Ref­er­ence Frame­work (ESPA) scheme for 2007-14.

The Public In­vest­ment Pro­gram has al­ready de­layed pay­ments from the scheme be­tween Jan­uary and July 2015 to the tune of 1.4 bil­lion eu­ros. Ac­cord­ing to the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, fund­ing will only be pro­vided for ex­pen­di­ture tak­ing place by the end of the year.

In state­ments made on Tues­day, Econ­omy Min­is­ter Gior­gos Stathakis said that the ob­jec­tive was to safe­guard re­sources un­til Septem­ber. Plans are be­ing drawn up to iden­tify which projects the next round of ESPA funds will pro­vide for and which will have their fund­ing cut.

As Alexis Har­it­sis, the gen­eral sec­re­tary for in­vest­ments and de­vel­op­ment, ex­plained, the tar­get is to re­duce the bur­den on the new ESPA pro­gram as much as pos­si­ble so as not to over­load the state bud­get with projects that are un­likely to be com­pleted on time, thus wast­ing Euro­pean com­mu­nity fund­ing.

To this end, a 50-mil­lion-euro loan al­ready ob­tained from the Euro­pean In­vest­ment Bank will be used, as well as an ad­vance of 300 mil­lion eu­ros from an agreed new loan of 1 bil­lion eu­ros, also from the EIB.

The Greek gov­ern­ment is also look­ing for­ward to the in­creased ad­vance pay­ment of the 2015 ESPA pro­gram agreed with the Com­mis­sion, part of which will be used to­ward com­plet­ing pro­grams as quickly as pos­si­ble.

The econ­omy min­is­ter has es­ti­mated that by the end of Septem­ber pay­ments for ESPA projects which had pre­vi­ously been frozen will grad­u­ally re­sume, restor­ing fund­ing for projects in progress that have re­mained un­paid for months.

Along with con­clud­ing the pre­vi­ous ESPA scheme, at­tempts are be­ing made to ac­ti­vate the new one through three new ten­ders for the strength­en­ing of entrepreneurship. Guid­lines on the terms and con­di­tions are ex­pected to be pub­lished in late Oc­to­ber and the dead­line for ap­pli­ca­tions will be made known by the end of 2015.

The ten­ders tar­get small and mi­cro tourism en­ter­prises, busi­ness schemes for grad­u­ates over 25 and start-up fi­nanc­ing.

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