ROADS AGENCY TO BE SEPARATED FROM BUDGET
The Chairman of the Parliamentarty Budget Commmission Nina Radeva and the Minister of Construction and Public Works Valentin Tserovsky will offer to the Executive Agency to re-register the enterprise for management of the environment and the future national forestry company under the Commercial Code as a state-owned enterprise like the Air Traffic Control Service, the BANKER weekly learned. The aim is that all road tolls should go directly to the agency without going through the budget. If the proceeds exceed the expenses in the year-end, the surplus shall not be remitted to the Treasury, but will be used for modernisation and maintenance of infrastructurte, Mr. Tserovsky explained. The new company will count on incomes from road tolls and vinettes and some of the proceeds from the introduction of the new system for driving along the highways. According to data of the Roads Agency, more than 60% of the republican network (about 19,000 km long) presently needs reconstruction or repair. The reason for the delayed reconstruction is trivial - lack of money. The worst situation is that of the third-class roads, more that 4,000 km of which are in a critical condition. The agency insiders are adamant that EU's requirements about the road infrastructure won't be satisfied within the next five years. In a report of the unit which the BANKER has it has been noted that the uncompleted construction is currently evaluated at BGN600MN-plus and part of the sights are with national importance. According to the agency's acting director Milosh Potzkof, if Roads Agency's 2003 debt of BGN48.8MN is not paid off and is transferred to the budget, the department will have only BGN34.9MN for current repairs this year, Mr. Potzkof specified. In order to wind up the year (and the most problematic road sectors) the agency needs at least BGN104.5MN. According to estimates of the Ministry of Construction and Public Works, more than 7,000 km of the road network should be completed by the year 2007. Construction of already begun new roads should be finished as well. BGN1.13BN will be necessary for the purpose. That means that in each of the next years the state budget will have to ensure about BGN 370MN. Mr. Tserovski commented. Otherwise, a national programme for completing the construction and development of the republican and highway road network was worked out in 1999, pundits recall. It involves three periods: a short-term one - by the year 2002, a medium-term - by 2003-2005, and a long-term - after 2006. The entire programme was worth EUR2.1BN. Almost EUR600MN (EUR285MN from the European Investment Bank, EUR71MN under the PHARE programme and EUR272MN from ISPA) has been ensured. Another EUR760MN had to come from foreign investors through concessioning the highways and the remaining EUR742MN was written down as budget money (i.e. BGN1.5BN). However, no concessionaires have turned up so far and the money earmarked in the budget is several times lower. This means that holes on the roads will be much more in the year 2007.