State in a rush to make subsidy deadline

The Development Ministry has embarked on a last-minute push to make use of European Union resources for 2012, working even through the last weekend of the year.

The ministry is trying to include in the system of subsidies all approved expenditure plans so that on Monday, on the last day of the year, the applications for subsidies are as close as possible to the amount of money committed to Greece for 2012 in the EU-backed National Strategic Reference Framework.

Despite the considerable time lost up to end-November, the push made in the past few weeks has given rise to some optimism in the ministry that it will reach its target for absorbing 3.7 billion euros worth of funds by the end of Monday.

Up until Friday absorption had reached a total of 2.3 billion euros, according to the ministry. Demands have been pouring into the ministry’s Integrated Data System for funding from the sole instrument that can currently offer subsidies in this country.

The effort is mainly focused on programs for administrative reform and digital convergence, while programs included in the European Social Fund – subsidizing projects for combatting unemployment and bolstering lifelong education – is close to target. Specifically, funds for the human resources program are close to the budget limit of 1.1 billion euros, while the subsidies planned for the education and lifelong training program amount to 932.4 million euros.

The new year will be much more challenging, as the country will have to work hard to absorb a total 13 billion euros worth of subsidies that expire in December 2013, after Greece secured an additional extension to its deadline from the European Commission due to its exceptional fiscal situation.