NEW WORLD BANK MISSION HAS BEGUN
The successive World Bank mission to Bulgaria for the preparation of the PAL 2 programme began on Monday (July 7). Under the programme our country could get a loan of USD150MN on condition the World Bank is convinced that the Bulgarian Government has fulfilled the financial institution's requirements for reforms in the judiciary and adminsitration. The last review under the PAL programme is expected in end-2003 and if its evaluations are postive, the World Bank will extend the credit in the beginning of 2004. PAL 2 is the second of the three loans in support of the country's payment balance, projected in the bank's three-year programme for Bulgaria's development in the 2002-2005 period. In February 2003 the Government got USD1,150MN under PAL 1.On the first day of the visit the World Bank's representatives Hadi Abushakra and Onik Karakchiyan held meetings with the Prosecutor General Nikola Filchev and the Chairman of the Supreme Court of Cassation Ivan Grigorov. Mr. Filchev informed the guests about the judiciary's state and the battle with corruption. A date for a meeting with the Supreme Judicial Council has not been fixed yet. By the end of next week the World Bank mission should complete the drafting of a report and present it to the Government. According to World Bank experts, the National Assembly should approve amendments to the Judiciary Power Act in order to enable Bulgaria fulfill its commitments under PAL 2. The aim is to render the operation of the court and of the prosecutor's office more transparent and guarantee their impartiality. The Government's task in the economic sphere will be to privatize Bulgartabac Holding, the Bulgarian Telecommunciations Company (BTC), and Bulgarian Maritime Bulgare (Navibulgar). As the BANKER weekly already wrote, on May 14, 2003 after his meeting with the Deputy Premier and Minister of Economy Nikolay Vassilev the WB Country Director for Bulgaria Andrew Vorkink directly threatened that no loan under PAL 2 would be extended if Bulgartabac was not sold and no manifest progress in the judiciary reform was made.