Covid-19: Bulgaria redirects 400 million leva in EU funds to fight economic slowdown

Bulgaria’s Government approved on May 7 the allocation of nearly 400 million leva, or about 204 million euro, in EU funds towards measures meant to counter the economic repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The largest amount, 234.6 million leva, was an increase in the budget of the innovation and competitiveness operational programme, co-financed by the Bulgarian state and the EU’s European Regional Development Fund.

“The increased financial resource of the programme will be used to stimulate, develop and strengthen Bulgarian businesses in the conditions of the rapid spread of Covid-19 and the emergency measures undertaken by the state to preserve public heath, which have a negative impact on the economic activity in all sectors,” the Cabinet media statement said.

The statement did not say what the funding was originally slated for.

Separately, the Cabinet said it was re-directing about 134 million leva in funding from the transport and environment programmes towards the innovation and competitiveness operational programme, but it was not clear if this was part of the larger 234.6 million leva figure.

The government said that the funds would be used to “finance schemes for temporary employment and secure operational capital for small and medium-sized enterprises”.

Towards the same purpose, the Cabinet said that it would use about 31 million leva under the operational programme for science and education for smart growth, using existing funding under the operational programme that has not been utilised yet.

The Cabinet said that the measures approved on May 7 took the total of EU funds being used to counter the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic to more than one billion leva, but gave no further details.

The lack of detailed breakdown for the financial stimulus measures is a criticism that has been levelled at the government in recent weeks, with some critics saying that there was a risk that the funds would not be used in the most efficient way to assist the largest number of people and companies affected by the crisis.

(Bulgaria’s Council of Ministers building. Photo:

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