Information day at the Ministry of Tourism for the launch of OPIC, OPDU and OPOS projects

14 October 2022

An information day was held at the Ministry of Tourism, dedicated to the launch of the implementation of 3 projects for grant financial assistance of the department under operational programs of the EU for the period 2014-2020. They are aimed at financing already incurred costs for accommodation and feeding of displaced persons as a result the war in Ukraine persons.

The event was moderated by Deputy Minister Irena Georgieva, who presented the main goals and expected results of the projects. Deputy Minister Mariela Modeva, experts, representatives of the governing bodies under the relevant operational programs, regional information centers (OIC) and other interested parties were invited to participate in the event.

Deputy Minister Georgieva briefly introduced the event's guests to the process of allocating funds under the two humanitarian aid programs administered by the Ministry of Tourism. Georgieva drew attention to the fact that in the beginning, in order to urgently solve the problem of housing and feeding a huge number of refugees and the insufficient capacity of the bases for initial reception, it was decided to shelter and feed them in the places of accommodation and shelter. In this regard, the administration of the process was entrusted to the Ministry of Tourism, since according to the provisions of the Law on Tourism it maintains the Unified Tourist Information System (USTI), containing the name information of the persons accommodated in the accommodation and shelter and the number of nights realized for each of them. The very allocation of funds to accommodation and shelter is preceded by their application by submitting applications for reimbursement of costs monthly through the National Investment Management System (NISM).

"The disbursement of funds under the humanitarian aid programs is carried out after verification of the reported number of accommodated persons with temporary protection for each previous calendar month and control checks from numerous other registers. And as a final result, the Minister of Tourism, based on the work of an evaluation commission, submits a draft Decision of the Council of Ministers (CMM) for their inclusion in the list of approved candidates," explained Irena Georgieva.

The financing of the two humanitarian aid programs administered by the Ministry of Tourism is arranged through a complex mechanism with advance allocation of funds by the state budget and their subsequent reimbursement from unspent amounts under separate EU operational programs.

"Today I have the honor to inform you about the launch of three projects under OPIK, OPDU and OPOS with 100% non-grant financial assistance planned, the ultimate goal of which is the financial provision of already provided accommodation and food under the Program for the use of humanitarian aid for persons seeking temporary protection in the Republic of Bulgaria as a result of the military actions in Ukraine", said Deputy Minister Georgieva. According to her, however, in order to recover the funds from the European funds, a long process of application by the Ministry of Tourism as a potential beneficiary through the Information System for Management and Monitoring (ISUN 2020) under the relevant operational programs, the subsequent approval of the project proposals, conclusion of administrative contracts for non-grant financial assistance, reporting to the governing bodies and disbursement of the projects.

Given the urgency of securing sufficient financial resources to ensure the humanitarian assistance programs, the Ministry of Tourism, in partnership with the governing bodies of the relevant operational programs, proceeded in extremely short terms to announce procedures and prepare the necessary project proposals. As a result, already on 14.07.2022, the Ministry of Tourism concluded an administrative contract for the implementation of Project BG16RFOP002-7.001-0001-C01 "Support to meet the basic needs of refugees from Ukraine" under the Operational Program "Innovations and Competitiveness" 2014-2020 (OPIK) in the amount of BGN 62,889,120, which will be sufficient to reimburse expenses for 1,572,228 overnight stays with breakfast and a hot lunch per refugee, assuming that the total number of persons who received support will exceed 42,000 people, among which no less than 16,800 children under 18 years of age. At the moment, the implementation of the project is in an advanced stage of reporting. The project has a deadline of 1 year, but our expectations are that it will be completed ahead of schedule by the end of November 2022.

The second project, on which the Ministry of Tourism is working hard, started its implementation officially on 23.09.2022 with the signing of administrative contract BG05SFOP001-6.001-0001 under the Operational Program "Good Governance" 2014-2020 (OPDU) and is named "Support along the lines of convergence to address the migration challenges caused by the military aggression of the Russian Federation in Ukraine, for the refugees who arrived in the Republic of Bulgaria, through a measure implemented by the Ministry of Tourism". Its total value is BGN 40,000,000, enough to cover 1,000,000 overnight stays with breakfast and hot lunch included, and it is expected that 68,544 people will be assisted, incl. 27,768 children. This project is being worked on intensively, with all our efforts directed towards its successful completion, reporting and payment within the current month of October 2022.

The third project launched by the Ministry of Tourism is BG16M1OP002-7.001-0001 "Support to meet the basic needs of refugees from Ukraine" and is financed under the Operational Program "Environment" 2014-2020 (OPE). It is worth BGN 30,588,236.53, and it is planned to reimburse expenses for 764,705 overnight stays with breakfast and a hot lunch per refugee, and the indicators to be achieved through the implementation of the project are: total number of the persons who received support - 72,300 people, including 29,900 children under 18 years of age. The project implementation period is 14 months, but we plan to successfully complete it by the end of November 2022.

"I use the opportunity once again to express my immense gratitude to the teams from the governing bodies of OPIC, OPDU and OPE for their responsiveness and timely support in providing funding for the Humanitarian Aid Programs for refugees from Ukraine," Deputy Minister Georgieva said at the end.

The representatives of the governing bodies of the operational programs congratulated the employees of the Ministry of Tourism for the huge amount of excellent work done on the projects.

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