The new Operational Programme “Initiative for Small and Medium Enterprises” is a strong instrument for support and encouragement of the development of the small- and medium-sized companies in the country. This was declared by the Minister of Economy Bozhidar Lukarski at the signing today of an agreement with the European Commission (EC), the European Investment Fund (EIF) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) for the new Operational Programme “Initiative for Small and Medium Enterprises” (OPISME). The agreement was signed by Minister Lukarski, by the Director General of General Directorate Regional and Urban Policy in the European Commission Walter Deffaa, by the Executive Director of EIF Pier Luigi Gilibert and by the Director of Directorate General “Central and Southern Europe” of EIB Flavia Palanza. The Vice Premier for EU Funds and Economic Policies Tomislav Donchev also attended the ceremony of signing.
The new Programme anticipates the provision of a financial resource in the amount of 102 million Euro by the EC and the European Regional Development Fund, which shall be provided in full by the EC, exclusive of cо-financing on the Bulgarian part. Guarantees shall be presented under it through financial mediators for crediting small and medium enterprises which will reduce the high requirements for security under loans and will essentially alleviate the entrepreneurs in the provision of a fresh financial resource for their activity.
„Today is a really significant day for the small and medium enterprises in Bulgaria because by signing the agreement on the one hand we hope to attain economic growth“, Minister Lukarski declared after the signing. He added that the Programme will provide higher guarantees through EIB and EIF as compared to the previous similar financial instruments. Minister Lukarski emphasized that the expectations are that the multiplying effect of the programme should be six-fold reaching up to 600 million Euro of credits granted for small and medium enterprises. This is one of the initiatives which we set up hopes for to awaken the financial resource in the banks, Minister Lukarski also added. He noted down that our country is one of the pioneers in the EU for the accession to such a kind of initiative and we are the third country after Spain and Malta which gets involved. “We did a lot of work. We sincerely hope that our National Assembly will faster ratify this Agreement, so that the small and medium enterprises in Bulgaria could have access to this capital as early as at the beginning of the autumn”, the Minister of Economy added.
”We are already with one operational programme more and with 102 million Euro resource designated directly for small- and medium-sized companies and entrepreneurship initiatives. I do hope there will be sufficiently good projects which will make use of that. Thus there will be an effect for everyone – for the economic growth, the economy, the income, the taxes”. Vice Premier Tomislav Donchev declared this after the signing. He added that for 2016, thanks to various programmes and initiatives we will take out 1 billion Euro onto the market – a resource accessible for the companies in Bulgaria.
The Executive Director of EIF Pier Luigi Gilibert declared that the access to funds continues to be an issue of great significance, especially for the small and medium enterprises, not only in Bulgaria, but also throughout the world. “EIF made efforts to provide such financing, I am sure that Bulgaria has made a very important step for access to financing of small and medium enterprises”, he said. According to the data Gilibert quoted, it is expected that over 3000 Bulgarian small and medium enterprises will make use of the initiative under preferential conditions.
„This initiative will create new possibilities for the entrepreneurs, will generate growth and new working places. This is a good example how the Eurofunds render assistance to real investments in the real economy, Walter Deffaa declared. “Bulgaria makes efforts to use the financial instruments intensively”, he noted down.
The Director of Directorate “Central and Southern Europe” of EIB, Ms. Flavia Palanza pointed out that Bulgaria is the first country from the region, which shall make use of the possibility of the instrument for financing. She indicated that the main purpose of this initiative is to present an easier access to capital of the small and medium enterprises through financial mediators, especially of enterprises with a more risky profile, financial guarantees for which are not easily found.
Ratification by the National Assembly and selection of financial mediators are forthcoming after the signing of the agreement.