EU grant pro­gram re­mains idle

Right­ful re­cip­i­ents are still wait­ing for the first euro of sub­si­dies from the ‘Com­pet­i­tive­ness’ ini­tia­tive

Kathimerini English - - Focus - BY EV­GE­NIA TZORTZI

Not a sin­gle euro of sub­si­dies has been granted yet to ap­pli­cants who ap­plied to join the Com­pet­i­tive­ness pro­gram of the Euro­pean Union­sub­si­dized Part­ner­ship Agree­ment for the De­vel­op­ment Frame­work, known in Greece as ESPA.

A year-and-a-half after the pro­gram’s start it re­mains ef­fec­tively in­ac­tive. Even the first batch of 1,372 suc­cess­ful ap­pli­cants who re­cently en­tered the “Sup­port­ing Self­Em­ploy­ment of Ter­tiary Ed­u­ca­tion Grad­u­ates” pro­gram will have to wait many months be­fore they se­cure the grant they are en­ti­tled to.

As for those who ap­plied to en­ter the “Up­grad­ing Very Small and Small En­ter­prises” pro­gram last July, they will have to wait even longer, as the tem­po­rary re­cip­i­ents were not se­lected un­til very re­cently. They will now have to sub­mit the so-called phys­i­cal file with all the nec­es­sary doc­u­ments per­tain­ing to their in­vest­ment (the dead­line is Septem­ber 15) and once these are checked, the list of fi­nal re­cip­i­ents will be drawn.

Be­sides the de­lays – which the Econ­omy and De­vel­op­ment Min­istry at­tributes to the State Sub­sidy In­for­ma­tion Sys­tem and the pro­ce­dures it dic­tates (although IT sys­tems are sup­posed to fa­cil­i­tate pro­ce­dures) – there are ma­jor con­cerns re­gard­ing the pro­gram’s over­all strat­egy, as the ma­jor­ity of its ac­tions are ad­dressed only to un­em­ployed peo­ple who are reg­is­tered with the Man­power Or­ga­ni­za­tion (OAED).

That is a cri­te­rion that helps no one but state bu­reau­cracy. Con­cerns have also been com­mu­ni­cated to the min­istry by the com­pe­tent au­thor­i­ties of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, ar­gu­ing that this cri­te­rion rules out of the pro­gram many 1.1415 young peo­ple who are job­less and could re­ceive sub­si­dies that would help them re­al­ize their ideas, re­gard­less of whether they have been reg­is­tered with OAED. Yet de­spite the crit­i­cism this con­di­tion re­mains a nec­es­sary term in the new procla­ma­tion is­sued by the min­istry a few weeks ago. Ob­servers note that this bu­reau­cratic de­lay may well ex­haust the wait­ing ca­pac­ity of the peo­ple who could have ben­e­fited most from this pro­gram.

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