Bulgaria’s Finance Minister: EU funds used for Ukrainian refugees

European Union operational programme funds are being used for the Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev said during Question Time in the National Assembly on June 3.

Denitsa Nikolova, an MP for the opposition GERB-UDF coalition, said that on June 2, Deputy Prime Minister Kalina Konstantinova spoke of 148 million euro (in fact, Konstantinova said leva, not euro).

“Over three months, we have been spending funds. To what extent do they come from the state budget and to what extent from Europe?” Nikolova said.

Vassilev said: “For the first month, they are from the national budget – more than 15 million, for April, 56 million leva, from national funds. The funds needed for the health system also came from national funds”.

Nikolova said that in the past two months, the spending had been from EU funds. She said that EU operational programmes had clear procedural rules, and asked how these funds were being spent “in the absence of publicity, which has an element of scrutiny from Europe”.

She said that Vassilev’s numbers did not match those cited by Konstantinova.

Konstantinova, who chairs the national operational HQ on Ukrainians who have temporary protection in Bulgaria, told Parliament on June 2 that EU member states were being allowed to use unspent funds from existing operational programmes to deal with the Ukrainian refugee crisis.

She said that these funds added up to 150 million leva. Fifty-two million leva had been paid to hoteliers, 12 million leva to the Bulgarian Red Cross, district administrations and NGOs, while 12.7 million leva had gone to the Labour Ministry to stimulate employment.

Vassilev said that it was clear what the funds were being spent on “even hotel by hotel”.

He said that the total funds added up to 148 million euro from existing programmes, in line with the European Commission’s decision.

“The funds are paid in advance. We have the right to spend under a simplified procedure,” Vassilev said.

He said that state institutions where refugees were being accommodated were being paid 15 leva per person per day.

The management of the facilities could decide how to compensate employees who had planned to holiday at these facilities, Vassilev said.

(Screenshot via Nova TV)

For The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine, please click here.

Please support The Sofia Globe by clicking on the orange button below to sign up to become a patron on patreon.com.

For as little as three euro a month or the equivalent in other currencies, becoming a patron means supporting independent journalism, and getting access to exclusive content:

Become a Patron!

The Sofia Globe staff

The Sofia Globe - the Sofia-based fully independent English-language news and features website, covering Bulgaria, the Balkans and the EU. Sign up to subscribe to sofiaglobe.com's daily bulletin through the form on our homepage. https://www.patreon.com/user?u=32709292