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J. Joksimović: Serbia has so far purchased 75 ventilators with EU funds

April 07 2020 | Belgrade

J. Joksimović: Serbia has so far purchased 75 ventilators with EU funds

Using the funds granted by the EU, Serbia has so far purchased 75 ventilators that have not yet been delivered but have already been bought and paid for, Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović has said today, explaining that they have not yet been delivered due to numerous limitations, as well as due to export restrictions in certain countries.

Joksimović has told TV Prva that, since the first day of the crisis caused by the coronavirus epidemic, she has been in contact with EU representatives asking for the reallocation of funds that Serbia has not spent from IPA funds.

According to her, the European Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Olivér Várhelyi, immediately approved the reallocation of EUR 93.4 million to help Serbia, of which EUR 15 million have been directly used for the purchase of medical equipment, with the remaining amount intended for after the crisis, i.e. for economic recovery.

With regard to the funds Serbia has received from the EU for medical equipment, Joksimović has explained that Serbia will transfer these funds to its implementation partner – UNOPS, which is committed to finding the most affordable equipment on the medical equipment market by utilising its connections and contacts."So far, we have bought 75 ventilators with the EU funds; they are not yet in Serbia, but they have been bought and paid for. However, there are numerous limitations currently in force, and some export restrictions in certain countries," Joksimović has said.

She has added that, out of the 75 ventilators purchased, only a small number of them has arrived in Serbia, and she has expressed her belief that the largest number of these ventilators will arrive by mid-April."They have been bought and paid for, but they have not yet arrived, and this is not only the issue of Serbia – it is an issue which is present everywhere in the world. Currently, there is a high demand on the medical market, especially for the ventilators that everyone is looking for and purchasing, while the prices are on the rise. However, I want to reassure our citizens that we are doing everything in our power, and are even outperforming some other countries. We have engaged our capacities in all directions, and we are buying the medical supplies wherever we can," Joksimović has said.

From the EUR 15 million, the EU sent several flights. i.e. the cost of these flights, have been paid, Joksimović has said, stating that these costs are huge. She has added that these are the planes transporting not only humanitarian aid but also medical equipment bought from Serbia’s own budget, such as planes with medical equipment from China and India that arrived last week.

She has stated that she put forward a request to Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia Sem Fabrizi for allocating one part of the funds for additional 10 cargo flights, which will be used to transport everything that Serbia receives or purchases.

Stating that the remaining EUR 78 million has been earmarked for post-crisis recovery, for economic measures, Joksimović has said that Serbia has introduced certain measures, that the President and line ministers have proposed a recovery plan, but that, without the recovery of the EU and its market, Serbia will also have a difficult time recovering.

As she has stressed, this is because the EU is Serbia’s largest trading partner, and in that sense, everyone needs to work together.

She has also emphasised that the Ministry of European Integration is intensively preparing an application for the EU Solidarity Fund, noting that applications can be submitted by 24 June.

She has recalled that Serbia received EUR 62 million in 2014 from the said Fund when it had to tackle major floods and consequential damages."Therefore, we decided to once more file an application, just as all the other Member States," Joksimović has said, explaining that, if public expenditures intended to curb COVID-19 exceed 0.3 percent of GDP, Serbia is entitled to funds from the EU Solidarity Fund.

According to her, Serbia is also participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, and the Serbian Minister of Finance, Siniša Mali, is expected to sign an agreement under which Serbia would participate in EU joint procurement of medical equipment."This means a lot to us - we pay for it, while the EU acts as the contracting authority, where it can determine better quantities at the level of centralised procurement, and in this way, the equipment can arrive faster, and we can enjoy greater security in terms of delivery," added the Minister.

She has said that, in addition to the EU, China and Russia are helping Serbia, adding that Hungary has also sent a generous donation – 200,000 masks and 10,000 protective suits."Everyone can provide funds, but it is currently very rare for someone to provide equipment," stressed the Minister.

She has added that Norway has also provided Serbia with a considerable sum, with which the purchase of 45 ventilators has been contracted.

Source: Tanjug