Macedonia first in the region in using IPARD funds.
Macedonia has marked an evident headway in IPARD implementation and is considered a leader in the region in terms of using finances from pre-accession funds, European Commission official in charge of monitoring the IPARD implementation Gerard Kiely said.
Possibilities are being discussed for expanding the program with new measures which will allow better realization, according to him.
"We're satisfied with the implementation of the IPARD program in the country. If all of the applications submitted were approved, nearly 43 million euros would have been used, which is a favorable level of realization. Problems that arise while submitting requests must be detected and eliminated," Kiely said.
He stated that IPARD funds for 2010 hadn't been entirely used, but would not be lost. The projected amount may not be even used in 2012; however Macedonia is definitively heading in the right direction.
"There's interest for IPARD and it can be only increased. I believe there will be a point when funds will be used fully," Kiely urged.
Thus far, a total of five IPARD public calls have been announced that resulted in 100 approved applications in amount of 12 million euros intended for investments in agriculture, food industry and rural development.
"We have shown that IPARD funds are a reality in Macedonia and that its agricultural sector is prepared to address challenges in using future structural EU funds. But at the same time, we must be aware that this is only the beginning. A lot of work is ahead of us - implementation of reforms and measures as well as long-term planning and interventions in order to build capacities and better conditions for farmers," said Zoran Konjanovski - Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management.
Agro ecology and local development strategies through a so called leadership approach are the two new measures due to be incorporated into IPARD.
EU's officials urged attention to be paid to establishing a system of control and monitoring i.e. cutting down of risks from potential abuse of the funds.