70 percent of CSFIII activated, no funds lost, Pachtas says

European Union investment subsidies under the 2001-2006 Third Community Support Framework (CSFIII) plan reached a total of 4.8 billion euros by December 31 and a further 2.4 billion should flow in this year if the present pace of projects is maintained, Deputy Economy and Finance Minister Christos Pachtas said yesterday. The CSFIII total budget of about 17 billion euros also includes national and private resources. According to ministry data, of the 12,413 plans submitted for investment subsidy, 11,360 have been approved. Pachtas said that about 70 percent of the massive CSFIII investment plan has already been activated (that is, funds that have already been disbursed or earmarked), which means that 30 percent remains for the government that will emerge from the March 7 election to manage. Second-category projects, those that present problems due to omissions, account for just 6 percent of the total budget, against 40 percent in the CSFII budget in the six-year period before 2001, Pachtas said. Third-category projects, that have had to be redone due to shoddy work, have been almost eliminated. He said progress had averted the danger of loss of funds due to delays of over two years, as all sums committed in 2001 had been absorbed by the end of last year. According to a partial reallocation plan expected to be approved by Brussels by the end of March, about 2 billion euros will be devoted to roadwork, agricultural development, education and employment. Employment Separately, Labor Minister Dimitris Reppas yesterday announced a 63-million-euro program designed to help 7,500 unemployed people aged 18-64 to set up their own businesses. The program is 75 percent subsidized by CSFIII and each unemployed applicant will receive 8,400 euros in stages; a quota of 60 percent of recipients has been set for women, among whom the unemployment rate is much higher. Proposals may be submitted by partnerships of up to three people. Manpower agency OAED will issue a circular with more details. Reppas also announced a 90-million-euro plan funded by the Greek government to subsidize the hiring of 15,000 Greek unemployed citizens for 18 months in small enterprises and for two years in bigger ones. The subsidies will amount to 14-18 euros per day, and enterprises will have to retain the employee for six months to a year after they end.

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