BUSINESS

EU grant program remains idle

EVGENIA TZORTZI

TAGS: Finance

Not a single euro of subsidies has been granted yet to applicants who applied to join the Competitiveness program of the European Union-subsidized 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 Self-Employment 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 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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