ROAD FEES REVENUES DOUBLE IN 2005
CONSORTIUM OF DZI TRANS AND BULGARIAN POSTS WAS APPOINTED VIGNETTE DISTRIBUTORThe Road Executive Agency will have its road fees revenues doubled in 2005. According to preliminary calculations, some BGN55MN will be added to accounts of the agency for the whole 2004. The amount expected in 2005 goes beyond BGN120MN. The increase will result from the extended cover of the vignette system which will become obligatory for all cars and vehicles with up to eight seats from January 1. The vignettes were introduced last April, but only heavy-freight vehicles and buses were obliged to use them. However, because of the lack of stickers receipts have only been used so far.According to the requirements of the law, vignettes that will replace the road tax will only be valid for the republican road network which is about 19,000 km long. So far, the tax has been paid to the municipality which used part of it to maintain the roads in the respective town. The new system stipulates that a fee be paid only for the roads outside the towns. The funds collected will be spent for their maintenance. Therefore, the municipalities will have to find other sources to maintain the streets, boulevards, and roundabout roads as they will be used free of charge. To compensate the lifted tax, next year the municipalities will be supported by the national budget. Still, it is certain that the money will not be sufficient to cover the maintenance costs of the local city infrastructure. Where the rest of the funds will come from is not known yet.There is no explanation why the introduction of the vignette system has to be done in the most complicated way, either. Theoretically, everything is clear. But the big problem will come no later than January 1, 2005, when the full cover of the vignette system will become valid. According to the Road Traffic Act, every vehicle that drives in an unpopulated area is obliged to possess a vignette. However, stickers will only be sold at the cross-border stations during the first two days of the new year. From January 3, the 27 regional road departments across the country will get involved in the sale, too. Since they will be the only places where vignettes will be sold in January, long queues will inevitably gather in front of each of them. Drivers will wonder whether to wait for hours or simply not leave the town they live in. The reason for the expected vignette chaos is the delayed appointment of a company that will print the stickers. It's not that the rulers ran out of time - the act regulating all vignette terms became valid on January 23, 2003. It took the Road Agency ten months to organize and conduct a competition. Only on November 30 did it become clear that the annual stickers would be printed by Demax company, while the monthly and weekly ones would be prepared by the Printing House of the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB). According to the competition terms, the stickers had to be ready by December 1, but the agency changed the deadline to January 1, 2005. Now it is not clear whether the vignettes will be prepared by that date, too. One thing can be said for sure - they will not leave the printing houses. Only on December 28 did the Road Agency choose a consortium between DZI Trans and Bulgarian Posts to distribute the vignettes. The distribution activities include accepting and preserving the printed amounts, transporting them, providing end distribution stations across the country and information supply, reporting the amounts available on store and the sale revenues, agency representatives explained.Because of the confusion the agency promised it would give the drivers a one-month grace period in order for them to buy vignettes. Moreover, it announced every January would be a grace period and police officers would not sanction drivers who failed to buy a vignette for the respective year. Still, foreigners who enter the country will not profit by the grace period. They will be asked to pay the fee due at the cross-border stations.Drivers who have not bought a vignette to cross the Bulgarian road network will be fined from BGN100 to BGN1,000. The exact amount will be determined according to the type of the vehicle. The lowest fines will be imposed on cars and eight-seat vehicles. Violating lorries will have to pay up to BGN500, while the heavy-freight ones will be sanctioned by even higher amounts. The sticker will be put in the right lower angle on the inside of the windscreen. All weekly, monthly and annual vignettes for cars will be yellow and those for buses and lorries will be violet. Blue vignettes will be put on the heavy-freight vehicles. Vignettes for foreigners will have a diagonal strip. The design will be changed every year so that there will be less chance for forgery. There is another measure that will prevent from transferring the sticker from one vehicle to another: all stickers will be self-destroyed if taken off the windscreen.The annual vignette for cars and eight-seat vehicles will cost BGN54 in 2005 (vehicles that have foreign registration numbers will need EUR59 stickers). One-month stickers will cost BGN10 and those valid for a week - BGN4 (EUR10 and EUR4 for foreign vehicles). Fees for Bulgarian drivers will be growing every year and those for foreigners will be falling until the two get equal in 2007. Annual vignettes for 2006 will be sold for BGN58, those for monthly use will cost BGN11 and the weekly ones - BGN4.50. A year later they will be sold at BGN63, BGN12, and BGN5 respectively.