PAYMENT FOR work on all aid and development projects funded by the European Commission is reported to be on indefinite hold following the failure of a new computer system.
The technical glitch will compound payment delays caused by crippling bureaucracy and a near-paranoid fear of fraud (NCE 14 & 21 January).
The Service Commune Relations Exterieur, created last year to harmonise contracts and payments across all EC development programmes, has been struggling to clear a months-long backlog of invoices. One UK consultant, Scott Wilson, is overdue a payment of close to £1M earned on aid projects in Eastern Europe won under the Technical Assistance for the Commonwealth of Independent States scheme. Some firms have had to wait up to 18 months for payment.
A source close to SCR head of payments Fernando Melendro confirmed that the computer central to the processing of invoices has not worked since it was installed last month. He could give no information about when it would be operational.
According to a senior industry figure the computer problem means payments are now running an extra four months late.