Funds absorption among highest in EU
Malta has one of the highest fund absorption rates among European Member States in the implementation of cohesion policy, with 80% of available funds allocated to specific projects.
Government referred to statements made by MEP Edward Scicluna regarding Malta’s absorption rate of EU Funds and specifically that up until the end of 2012, “only” 33% of Malta's EU funds had been spent”.
As is stated by the European Commission in its reply to MEP Scicluna’s Parliamentary Question of October 8, 2012, (Commission reply E-009027/2012, dated December 6, 2012), "Malta shows a good performance in the implementation of cohesion policy, with 80 % of available funds allocated to specific projects.” Indeed, this is among the highest absorption rates of Member States.
It should be noted that the figure of 33% quoted by MEP Scicluna actually refers to the funds reimbursed by the Commission to Malta so far. Requests for payments are sent by Malta on a continuous basis and, in fact, the amount requested by Malta on the programmes to date stands at 37% with the next request expected to be sent to the Commission by year end.
It is a known fact that the bulk of payments for projects are paid at the completion of the projects. This is a common and standard practice, in line with EU rules. If one were to take the status of payments of the previous (2004-2006) Programme at the same time of implementation (which would be end of 2006),the payment rate paid by the Commission stood at 30%. Malta has managed to maintain and actually improve this rate in the current period with a Programme which is 10 times larger than the previous one and which for the first time has a number of major projects which are by their very nature more complex to implement. Malta managed to absorb all the funds under the previous period and the Government is monitoring closely the current Programme to ensure that steady progress continues to be made. One should note that NO funds have been lost and none are at risk at this stage, while payments on the Programmes can be made until the end of 2015, which can be checked and claimed by Malta even after this date.
Moreover, it should also be noted that the Government fully agrees with MEP Scicluna’s comments that funds need to be well managed. In this regard, Malta has an excellent track record and has a rigorous process for assessing project bids and ensuring that obligations are met. Indeed, Malta’s strong implementation and control system is held in such high esteem that the Commission has recently informed Malta that it will rely on the Government’s own control systems (article 73 of Regulation 1083/2006) for audit and control.