By Evgenia Tzortzi
While presenting the course of the 2013 subsidies program on Thursday, Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis stressed that not a single euro in European Union subsidies paid through the National Strategic Reference Framework would go to waste. Greece achieved an absorption rate of 74 percent last year, with spending increased by 47 percent compared to 2012.
According to the account presented by Hatzidakis, the government utilized 5 billion euros of subsidies in 2013, which allows for some optimism that the remaining 5.8 billion will be fully absorbed by the program’s end-2015 deadline.
Greece managed to cover the target set for last year by 118 percent, as the total EU funds absorbed in 2013 amounted to 4.6 billion euros, compared with a target for 3.89 billion set out in the country’s bailout agreement. When the national contribution is added, the sum exceeds 5 billion euros, the minister explained.
Although the rate is improved thanks to the slashing of the program by 2.1 billion euros (from 24.3 billion to 22.2 billion euros) due to the reduction of the national contribution, exceeding the target set for 2013 in absolute figures shows that “we have now shaken off the absorption worries,” according to Hatzidakis. “In the two years left for the absorption of the 5.8 billion euros, we will only have to channel an amount that is just over the funds we managed to absorb within just one year, in 2013.”
The absorption of the subsidies was facilitated by the simplification of project implementation procedures with 32 specific contracts, the elimination of projects that would not go ahead, the systematic monitoring of projects and their implementation, and the revision of projects where necessary. Hatzidakis also made special reference to the Public Investments Program that was 100 percent implemented in 2013, channeling 6.6 billion euros into the market.