Call for submission of project proposals “Construction of next generation networks (NGN) / next generation access networks (NGA) in NGA white areas”, ref. no. KK.02.1.1.01, Investment model B, it was possible, among other things, for the costs of renting cable sewers and poles. Acceptable applicants for the aforementioned modality were local and regional self-government units, and applicants could only act independently. At the end of the deadline for the submission of project proposals and their evaluation, grant contracts were signed, and Apsolon was hired as an external expert to implement a total of 4 such projects.
During the implementation of the projects, there were legal restrictions related to the realization of the cost of renting cable sewers and poles for eligible applicants enabled by invitation. Namely, according to the Law on Electronic Communications and the Law on Measures to Reduce the Costs of Setting Up High-Speed Electronic Communication Networks, access to and shared use of cable ducts and poles is provided only to operators of electronic communications. We have come to an obstacle where there is no practice for local and regional self-government units to be registered operators of electronic communications and therefore the cost cannot be incurred by grant beneficiaries, even though it is enabled by the Grant Agreement. In accordance with the Rulebook on the acceptability of expenditures, which defines the conditions for the acceptability of expenditures, the criteria for the expenditure being acceptable is that it was incurred by the Beneficiary of grants (or partners who are not allowed in this case).
All grant agreements of the mentioned call included significant amounts for the stated cost, and without them it would not be possible to carry out the project’s activities. The problem was noticed in a timely manner in the implementation by the consultants and communicated to the management and intermediary body of level 2. This was followed by several months of sending letters to the control bodies, meetings, invitations and detailed explanations with warnings about the problem. Several consultants participated in the entire process in cooperation with experts in the field of NGA networks.
A decision was made in favor of the user. The intermediary body of level 2 informed how it will be possible to realize the cost and activities despite the restrictions of the Ordinance on the acceptability of expenditures. An exception was made in the part that the expenditure must be incurred by the beneficiaries of grants. According to the instructions of the competent authorities, in such a situation the cost can be incurred and paid for by the commercial company that will be registered to perform the activities of electronic communication networks and services in the geographical area of the project implementation and which was established for this purpose. In the end, in order to receive reimbursement of expenses, the users had to submit a confirmation of payment and proof of the execution of the transaction to the trading company, in the amount of the approved grant.
*PRŠI= Broadband infrastructure development plan (Plan razvoja širokopojasne infrastrukture)