THE WORLD BANK IS WARNING: YOU DRIVE CORRUPTION INTO THE ENERGY SAVING FUND
The Management Board of the Energy Efficiency Fund became the reason for quite a few scandals even before the eponymous law (which regulates the fund's activities) has passed through the obligatory parliamentary commissions. The draft bill was approved by the Government on October 21 and entered three parliamentary commissions two days later: the energy commission, the legal commission, and the eurointegration one. Yet, no progress has been achieved apart from the lobbying by several MPs.According to the draft provisions, this fund is the main tool for encouragement of the energy efficiency. Its main task is to launch low-rate credits (interests from 3% to 4%) for taking energy-saving measures. However, the fund needs some EUR17MN in order to be established. About EUR1.5MN of the money will be provided by the Bulgarian Government, while the major part - almost EUR10MN, will come from the World Bank Global Ecology Fund.The rest of the money (EUR5MN) must be donated by international financial institutions - Bulgarian and foreign funds, individuals, and companies.According to the draft stipulations, proposed by the Government, the fund is both public and privately-owned and has a seven-member management board. The board includes three representatives of the state power - from the Ministry of Energy, the Ministry of Environment, and the Agency for Energy Efficiency. Besides, the draft stipulates, the fund management must also include four representatives of branch companies and organisations. The Agency for Energy Efficiency proposed that the non-governmental quota be filled proportionally to the money invested in the fund's establishment. It means that the four companies or organisations that invest most money in the fund will later manage the utilisation of the EUR17MN, lawyers explained to the BANKER weekly. The draft does not explicitly stipulate what majority will be needed for taking decisions in the fund's management board, the lawyers added, so it is assumed to be 50% plus one of the votes.In this case it means that all decisions will be taken by those four representatives from the non-governmental quota.The proposal for amending the draft bill on establishment of an energy efficiency fund led to a number of disputes and sharp objections, as well as to a definite protest by the World Bank experts. The international institution pointed out as a motive that this will allow capitals with unknown origin to enter the structure and to be used for personal favour. According to sources from the Agency for Energy Efficiency, options for solution of this problem are now being thought of.Bulgaria ranks last in Europe in terms of energy efficiency. Tens of thousands of buildings in the country need energy-saving modernisation, the Agency's Chief Secretary, Stoyan Todorov, told the BANKER weekly. Right after the bill is adopted, he commented, some of the most airy buildings will profit by the money it provides.It means that all inhabitants in a building - regardless of the kind of energy they use for their daily wants, have to establish special companies (associations, in accordance with the energy law) which to pay their bills to suppliers in cash and in time. In turn, they can apply for money from the fund.Measures for improving the energy efficiency in 92 Bulgarian schools will be subsidized by budget and private organisations by the end of 2004. The Clearcontract partnership agreement was signed by the Ministry of Education and Science, the Berlin and the Bulgarian Agencies for Energy Efficiency on December 2. Details of the joint initiative were presented a day later. For the first time ever the improvement of the schools electricity and heat isolation will be carried out according to the so called guaranteed results agreements. They allow for providing third-party financing (most frequently from banks).A working group created by the assigner (the Ministry of Education and Science) will prepare preliminary evaluation of each project and tender documentation by end-March 2004. The schools will be divided in two pools, each including 46 buildings. Then, procedures will be announced for selection of an executor. The procedures will be in compliance with the requirements of the Public Procurement Act. The educational ministry may take up some 20% of the modernization price of the current project, experts from the Agency for Energy Efficiency told the BANKER weekly. Most probably the tender procedure will involve German companies and that will reduce significantly the chances of Bulgarian ones to win public orders, experts commented. So far, there are 28 companies registered in Bulgaria that operate in the field of energy efficiency, the BANKER weekly learned. Only some ten of them meet the necessary requirements.Beside the financing, companies that win public orders will take up the implementation of the project, too. They will be obliged to guarantee the project efficiency.