30.04.2009Session of the Monitoring Committee of Human Resources Development Operational Program

The first for 2009 session of the Monitoring Committee of Human Resources Development Operational Program (HRD OP) took place of April 27 and 28 in Plovdiv. Dimitar Dimitrov, Deputy Minister on Labour and Social Policy, chaired it.  Representatives of DG “Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities” of the European Commission (Filip Bush, Resa Koleva and Bistra Valchanova), representatives of more than 40 Bulgarian institutions, social partners and observers from NGOs took part in the session. Roma NGOs were represented by Deyan Kolev (observer elected by the group of Roma NGOs).
Twelve new financial scheme with budget of 272,6 millions BGN were approved during the session. Additional amount of 15 millions will be used for financing the social services “social assistant” and “house assistant” for people with disabilities. With the approval of these 13 schemes the financial amount that is expected to be contracted in 2009 within HRD OP is 785 millions BGN

During the session Deyan Kolev, chairman of Center “Amalipe” and observer from the group of Roma NGOs raised 4 questions:
1. Suggestions for simplification of the procedures for reporting the projects and for interim transfers: According to his information interim transfers are still not done for expenses that were reported in November 2008. This puts serious troubles before many organizations and schools that could not continue the project implementation because of the lack of transfer. The requirements for reporting are so complicated that around 2/3 of the staff time is dedicated at preparing reporting documents and only 1/3 – at implementing project activities, explained D. Kolev. He proposed simplification of the reporting documents and optimizing the procedure for interim payment. The full text of the suggestion could be found here
Mrs. Boyka Boinuzova (Director of European Funds Directorate of Ministry of Labour) answered that simplification of procedures and interim payment will be searched soon. This is in accordance with the policy of Ministry of Labour  (Managing Authotity of HRD OP). She agreed that the delay in the interim payment is too big and puts under menace the project implementation.
2. Suggestion for announcing 4 financial schemes for Roma integration activities within 3 of the main priority axes of HRD OP: It was raised during the discussion about the Annual report for HRD OP implementation in 2008. The report showed that the Program achieves its goals concerning Roma community only in the fields with announced schemes directed deliberately to Roma integration activities (during 2008 it was only the scheme “Creating favorable multicultural environment…”). Serious delay could be observed in achieving the goals HRD OP states concerning Roma community in all other fields.  The full text of the suggestion could be found here
The suggestion provoked discussion. Lalo Kamenov (Anti-discrimination Commission) fully supported the idea. Mrs. Boyka Boinuzova expressed neutral position. According to her announcing call for proposals directed deliberately at Roma integration is possible if they are well-prepared and if it is clear that they are necessary. The discussion on this issue will be continued through conversations between the Roma observers in the Monitoring committee and the representatives of the Intermediate Bodies for defining concrete parameters of the possible schemes.
3. Suggestion for announcing call for proposals for extra-class and extra-school activities “Let’s make the school attractive for the young people”: This operation was opened in 2007 and 2008 but it was not proposed during the first session of the Monitoring Committee. Having in mind that tens of organizations and schools engaged with Roma educational integration express interest to this scheme Deyan Kolev proposed it to be open through “written coordinating procedure” before the second session of the Committee in October. The full text of the suggestion could be found here
The suggestion was supported by Deputy Miniister Dimitrov (Chair of the Operational Program) as well as by representatives of Ministry of Education (Intermediate Body in which competencies is to announce this operation)
4. Deyan Kolev raised also the question that the number of schemes granted directly to different institutions is increasing unproportianally: According to him this excluded the real participation of municipalities, schools, NGOs and other beneficiaries and makes the Program implementation less efficient and effective.
During the session Lalo Kamenov presented Suggestion of the Anti-Discrimination Commission concerning the scheme for students scholarships, proposed by Ministry of Education. The Anti-Discrimination Commission suggests part of the scholarships to be granted to “students from vulnerable groups” and provides argument that the Law against Discrimination envisages “equating measures” to guarantee the real equal access of vulnerable groups. Filip Bush, representative of the European Commission raised arguments in the same direction. The representatives of Ministry of Education did not agree with the suggestion: according to them the fact that all students could apply for scholarship guarantees the equal access.

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