BILL ON NATIONAL FORESTRY COMPANY REJECTED
The Parliamentary Commission on Agriculture and Forestry has totally rejected the bill, moved by the Agriculture Ministry, for the establishment of a national forestry company. Reforms in the sector had to be launched by the approval of the bill. However, the MPs decided that a panel of experts should prepare an entirely new draft and work out again the national policy and strategy on forestry for the period until the year 2013. The arguments of the deputies do not differ from those of the NGOs. Back in 2003 they alarmed that the restructuring of the forestry sector according to the proposed model (through setting up a state-run company) would lead to still further centralization of its management and establishment of a state monopoly on the wood market.According to the MPs from the opposition, the Bulgarian Forestry Fund, which existed till the year 2000 and which accumulated the proceeds from lumbering and hunting, should be restored. According to some deputies, the controlling activities could be undertaken by an agency, directly subordinated to the Council of Ministers, and just a slight amendment to the Forestry Act is necessary for that. Another possibility is to register the regional forestry administrations as commercial companies, united in a state-run holding company, and trade in wood to be effected through the commodity exchanges instead of by tenders, invited by the forestry companies, as proposed by the Agriculture Ministry. The rejected draft bill on the national forestry company had been supported by the World Bank. The establishment of a state-run enterprise was one of the preliminary terms, set by the financial institution, for the allocation of a USD30MN credit, earmarked for the restructuring of Bulgaria's forestry sector.