Instrument for structural policy for pre-accession (ISPA) - Report 2008
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On January 1st 2007 Bulgaria and Romania became members of the European Union and ceased being beneficiaries of pre-accession funding including ISPA. The accession of these two countries left Croatia as the only remaining recipient of ISPA funding. This report therefore only covers the ISPA activities carried out by Croatia.
The year 2008 witnessed a significant improvement in the pace of project implementation in Croatia with several major contracts being signed, physical implementation commencing and the first interim payments being made. Tendering and contracting is still slower than desirable, reflects continuing poor management and coordination, as well as a shortage of suitable staff. Despite the problems however, steady progress was made during the year. At the start of 2008 11 out of a total of 24 tenders foreseen for all projects had been either commenced or concluded with 3 works contracts having been signed and under implementation. By the end of 2008 however, the number of tenders either launched or concluded had risen to 18 with a total of 13 contracts having been signed and implementation ongoing. Furthermore it needs to be noted that tendering and contracting was completed for 3 out of the 6 ISPA projects.
The transformation of the Implementing Agency from the Central Finance and Contracting Unit (CFCU - a body established within the structures of the Ministry of Finance) to the Central Finance and Contracting Agency (CFCA - a government agency) does not seem to have had the immediate effect that was anticipated. Despite the fact that salary levels in the new agency are higher than in other government institutions the CFCA has still had trouble both recruiting suitable staff and retaining them. In an attempt to improve the situation additional recruitment efforts were intensified and further training of staff took place with the assistance of the European Commission (EC) Delegation.
Another contributory factor affecting the progress of ISPA project implementation has been the preparations for the introduction of the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). It has to be acknowledged that these preparations to some extent diverted the attention of some of the key bodies involved in implementing the ISPA projects due to the necessity to reorganise their staff and to obtain accreditation for the management of IPA funds.
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