Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

CONCESSION ON MOTORWAY TO BOURGAS GOES TO SUPREME COURT

After the numerous objections of the opposition against the scandalous concession on the Trakiya highway, the prosecutor's office also laid its cards on the table. On June 8 a fax was circulated to mass media, reading that the Vice Prosecutor General Mityo Markov had applied to the Supreme Administrative Court, demanding to declare null and void the Government's decision No 1043, dated December 30, 2004, by which the motorway was concessioned for 35 years to the Bulgarian-Portugese joint venture (JV) Trakiya Motorway AD.Mr. Markov's claim to the court states that the decision for picking out the concessionaire contradicts article 8, para 1 of the Concessions Act, as the choice was made without holding a competition or a tender. It is true that para 3b of the law's transitional and final provisions allows the opportunity that the Council of Ministers grants without a tender or a competition a concession on companies in which the State has shareholder participation worth BGN300,000-plus, accounting for at least 25% of the equity capital. That was the main justification in the Cabinet's defence for the motorway concessioning. As Mr. Markov pointed out, however, the country's Constitutional Court extended a ruling on the above-mentioned para 3b back in 1998, i.e. long before it occurred to the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Valentin Tserovski and company to give away the republican roads with nimble fingers. The then ruling of the constitutional magistrates expressly states that the possibility stipulated in para 3b does not apply to cases when a concession is granted for the first time. According to Mr. Markov, in addition to violating the legal regulations, the Government's decision on the motorway is not in compliance with the law's object. The Constitution stipulates that the management of public state property should be solely to the interest of citizens and society. That is why the Concessions Act makes provisions that the choosing of the concessionaire should be done in conditions of maximum transparency and on equal terms through a tender or a competition, while the Cabinet's decision No 1043 is obviously not directed to achieving that object.

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