Mrs. Karamfilova, you have already opened the applications of candidates who want to deliver food products as part of the Charity Programme. When did the event take place?
On March 26th. A total of 30 companies submitted documents for participation and all interested parties attended the event, including media, NGOs and representatives of the companies. There was a big interest in the programme this year. Both Bulgarian and international companies applied.
The presence of NGOs guarantees the transparency of the procedure. Did NGOs ask to attend themselves?
No, this was initiated entirely by State Fund Agriculture. We invite them every year and this is the 6th year in a row of implementing the Charity Programme.
What is the programme’s budget this year? Has it changed?
The budget is the same. Last year we had a bit more money for purchasing food products because we were given intervention stocks from Finland and Great Britain and money for transportation expenses. We used the additional budget to include two additional products in the programme.
Will the number of products increase this year as well?
No. The European regulation is for a one-time budget of 19 million euro. We will use it to deliver 11 products that were chosen by our partner – the Bulgarian Red Cross. They organized polls among the beneficiaries to find out which products were most needed.
What are the selection criteria for companies that want to participate in the programme, especially regarding the quality of the food?
Our criteria are based on the Bulgarian National Standart BDS-ISO. We want to deliver only quality products. We require all candidates to submit a certificate of inspection from an accredited laboratory. We are also inspecting the quality of products throughout the programme’s implementation along with the Bulgarian Food Safety Agency (BFSA). They are the official organ accredited to inspect the products. In addition, State Fund Agriculture periodically takes random samples from the products and gives them for inspection at an independent accredited laboratory.
In other words, the products’ quality is inspected throughout the process?
Absolutely. If we suspect bad quality, the BFSA will impose a ban on the questionable products and they will not be delivered.
How will the ranking procedure go on from here?
In stage one, the commission will decide if the applicant submitted all necessary documents and if they comply with our requirements. In stage two, we will make sure the offered products comply with the BDS-ISO and in stage three we will open the technical price offers and rank them.
Are the companies required to supply all the 11 products?
No, they can participate with one or more products. It is entirely a company decision.
Are there NGO representatives in the commission?
We have a member of the National Internal Revenue Agency.
When will the procedure you just described finish?
We expect to have all applications inspected and ranked by the end of May.