World Bank to support Bulgaria in absorbing EU funds

13:20, August 11, 2010      

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The World Bank Group will support Bulgaria for building an administrative capacity in absorbing structure funds from the European Union, according to a Memorandum of Understanding signed here on Tuesday.

"We have talked about today to help build the capacity so to be able to open the door to the seven do 10 billion euro (13.1 billion U.S. dollars) funds from the European Union," World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick told a press conference after the signing ceremony.

This money is grant money, not loans, Zoellick said.

He added that the important think is not only to build the capability to get the projects funded in Brussels but "equally important is to build the long-run capacity."

European Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva, who joined Zoellick on Monday and Tuesday during his two-day visit in Bulgaria, told the press conference that Bulgaria has three years left to absorb this "almost 10 billion euro."

Since its joining the EU, Bulgaria has absorbed less than 10 percent of this money, Georgieva said.

Georgieva, who served as a Vice President and Corporate Secretary of the World Bank Group till February 2010, said that Bulgaria has to absorb capacity from the World Bank experts in areas where this bank has funded projects in the country such as roads and energy, and also in branches that will be key ones for Bulgaria in the next seven to eight years.

"Bulgaria has a tremendous opportunity to make the most of EU funds to restore growth. As a longstanding partner, the World Bank Group remains committed to supporting Bulgaria's efforts to accelerate EU convergence and help the Bulgarian people to achieve the higher living standards enjoyed by advanced European economies, " said World Bank Group President Robert B. Zoellick at the signing of the MOU at the Council of Ministers.

"Greater productivity and modern infrastructure are vital to unleashing Bulgaria's growth potential," Zoellick emphasized.

He said EU membership helped spur an economic boom in Bulgaria, but the crisis has shown that the country needs to further strengthen its competitiveness and invest more in productive assets such as transport infrastructure and the skills of its people.

Earlier on Tuesday, Zoellick met in Varna with the Bulgarian President Georgi Parvanov saying that this agreement is a pilot project in Europe and an important instrument in the new collaboration between the World Bank and Bulgaria.

During his visit, Zoellick also met with ministers and with private sector executives with whom he discussed challenges facing Bulgaria coming out of the crisis and ways the World Bank Group, including its private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), can best support growth and competitiveness.

Since Bulgaria joined the World Bank Group in 1990, the total value of its support is roughly 4 billion dollars for projects in sectors such as banking, revenue administration, health, social welfare, environmental protection, general manufacturing, agribusiness, infrastructure, and renewable energy.

Source: Xinhua


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