As the EU enlargement goes one step forward, so does Hungary with its efforts to do what is necessary before it becomes a full-fledged EU member. Hungarian Agriculture and Regional Development Minister Imre Nemeth said the country’s SAPARD office will open its door on November 20. Its task is to distribute monies from the EU’s SAPARD programme for agricultural development in candidate countries.
Nemeth told a news conference that a review of the agency, carried out by EU auditors, was positive. This is good for Hungary and brings the country closer to final accreditation, he said. Disbursement of funds has already been realised in the Hungarian office. Last year’s amount was 39 million Euro, while 38 million Euro was apportioned in the previous year. The minister said the monies must be distributed by the end of next year.
Nemeth added that initial payments from the office could emerge by year-end. Most of the pay-outs against the 2000 and 2001 SAPARD budgets will be realised in 2003 because the Hungarian budget does not really have the capacity to offer matching support in 2002. The EU and Hungary are still chewing over a deal concerning the various uses of this year’s budget.
November 15 is the bid deadline for investments by agricultural companies, particularly machinery acquisitions. Rural infrastructure development, and marketing and processing of farm and fisheries goods have until December 1 to get their bids in. (694)