Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has said that the Finance Minister should tackle Department of Finance bureaucracy which is frustrating efforts by local funding applicants to expand and develop job creation projects. The Assembly Finance Committee Chair spoke as preparation work takes place to prepare for a new tranche of European funding for the 2014/’20 period.
Daithí McKay said:
“One could understand the frustration felt by many businesses and organisations about the length of time required to process EU funding applications. This was apparent listening to officials from EU Funding body SEUPB and the Department of Finance (DFP) before the Finance Committee this morning.
“It is obvious that the process is not applicant friendly and needs to be overhauled. Some applications to the previous INTERREG programme were subject to as many as four economic appraisals! We need to reduce this level of bureaucracy.
“Many applicants experienced as much as 56 weeks waiting time for applications to be processed. This is unacceptable and the 2014/’20 tranche needs to see a huge reduction in this time frame.
“Unfortunately successive DUP Finance Ministers have not been proactive in exploring ways to reduce this bureaucracy, which is unique to the north. This leaves us behind most of Europe in terms of how we process these applications.
“Peace IV and INTERREG VA funding will be worth €269million and €282million respectively for the 2014/’20 period.
“This represents huge opportunities for SMEs, community and cross-border projects. However, the bureaucracy is sometimes difficult to navigate and simple errors or omissions can result in rejection or long delays in funding approval.
“Public consultation on new EU funding for 2014/’20 will start shortly after the elections and the new tranche of funding could be open to applications as early as the first quarter of 2015.
“I would encourage those intending to apply for assistance to start preparing their proposals now so that they can be submitted as soon as the application period begins.” ENDS