Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

BGN200MN BURN IN THE BATTLE BETWEEN MINISTERS VASSILEV AND VELCHEV

The Treasury that is suffering from a chronic deficit, may fail to get a good round sum, exceeding BGN200MN. This is the money, due by the privatizers, who seem to have forgotton that there is no pay-free lunch. The budget may not receive these proceeds if the governors again show lack of common sense. It's their merit that the 2003 Budget Act included para 21 which stipultes that The State's receivables ensuing from temporary financial assistance, from activated state guarantees, from allocated credits and defaults due under privatisation contracts, are collected by the State Receivables Agency in compliance with the Act on Collection of State Receivables. And item 2 of the same para 21 specifies that The State Receivables Agency represents the State in insolvency procedures and files a claim to the respective regional court for initiating insolvency procedures when the State is a creditor of the receivables, describes in item 1.There is nothing wrong so far. The trouble is that the new provisions in the Budget Act practically makes pointless the activities of the Agency for Postprivatsiation Control (APC), set up in March 2002, which in fact began operating at full speed last autumn. As the BANKER weekly has learnt, the APC, headed by Aksiniya Slavcheva, has prepared a special letter to the Deputy Premier and Minister of Economy Nikolay Vassilev, explaining the negative effects which the application of that para would have. In the first place it is pointed out that the para is in contradiction with art.19, para 2, item 1 of the Act on Privatisation and Postprivatisation Control, as it deprives the APC from its functions, stipulated there, i.e. to collect the overdue payments and defaults under already closed privatisation contracts. What is worse is that thanks to that legislative misunderstanding more than 450 lawsuits against incorrect buyers of state-owned property will go to the basket. They will be suspended because they have been initiated by the APC, which under para 21 is not legally entitled to that. Until they are resumed by the recently authorized State Receivables Agency, the term for payment of the receivables would have elapsed. The Chairperson of the APC's Supervisory Board Evgeniya Penkova and the Executive Director Aksiniya Slavcheva worn Nikolai Vassilev that in this situation the state budget would certainly suffer considerable losses, equal to the total amount of the claims under the 450 lawsuits, exceeding BGN200MN. In conclusion, Ms. Penkova and Ms. Slavcheva summerize that together with the pointed negative consequences the transferrence of APC's competences to the State Receivables Agency would mean that the latter would issue deeds based on documentation which is not at its disposal.Such legislative paradoxes obviously do not embarrass the great number of lawyers which are MPs. The Minister of Economy Nikolay Vassilev who is directly responsible for the operation of the APC can support its proposal for amendments to para 21 in the 2003 Budget Act, passed by the National Assembly on December 19, 2002. If these amendments are not made, the State Receivables Agency, which is under the supervision of the Finance Minister Milen Velchev, will win a Pyrrhic victory.Next Monday (January 27) the APC will finally announce the names of the 215 privatized enterprises, against whose owners the last claims have been filed to court in the November 12 - Decemver 29, 2002 period. The BANKER weekly learnt that two lists will be presented as well - a white and a black one - including the good and the bad divestment deals, closed since 1993. It was specified that the APC ha s analysed only the sales, effected by the Privatisation Agency, the Ministry of Economy and the Ministry of Culture. A total of 1962 privatisation contracts, stipulating rescheduled payment have been scrutinized. It has been established that the owners of 150 enterprises, divested according to such schemes have not observed the payment schedule. As a result only BGN34.7MN instead of a total of BGN112.4MN has entered the Treasury, for which aggregate defaults of BGN12.2MN have been calculated.

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