Банкеръ Weekly



The idea for sanation of prefab housing buildings dates back to the early 1990s, but has recently become something of a pre-election refrain. During the local elections in 2003 candidate-mayors were ardently trying to convince voters that the 30-year-old prefab boxes they own and live in, would be turned into cosy, well-insulated and fortified homes. And now, just a few months prior the parliamentary elections, the Government approved a national strategy for sanation of prefab blocks of flats, where more than a quarter of Bulgaria's population lives. The news broken by Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Petya Gegova is that 20% of the expenses for sanation would be undertaken by the State. That means that if sanation of a 70 sq. m flat costs BGN6,400, BGN1,300 will be paid by the State, at least according to the experts' preliminary calculations. Where is the catch? This is the question which people living in prefab housing buildings ask as Bulgarians already know pretty well there is no free lunch anywhere. In fact, there are several catches. The first of them is that this will be a sweet business, estimated by the above-mentioned experts at BGN4BN-plus. The second one is that one of the conditions for beginning sanation of a prefab building is that all owners of flats should be registered as a juristic person. And from thence, hard times begin for the more solvent neighbours. Having registered as a juristic person all will have to pay off on the principle of solidarity the debts to big monopolists, one of which is the central heating utility. If one of the neighbours has financial difficulties and cannot pay his central heating bills, the others will have to do it. Otherwise, all of them will jointly suffer the monopolist's sanctions. During the week the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Valentin Tserovsky spilled the beans: the new law on energy and energy efficiency that was to be adopted would stipulate that sanation becomes obligatory, as well as uniting as per the law on floor ownership. The minister's friends who will fulfil sanation works are already rubbing their hands. Three kinds of firms will participate in the new billions-worth business. A company will certify the site, another one will examine it, and a third one will carry out sanation itself. The certifying firms will also ascertain the quantity of heat power and electricity, consumed in the different buildings. Those making energy examinations will prepare reports, proposing measures for reducing electricity and central heating bills. Afterwards will come the firms, replacing the water and sewage system, the rust-eaten couplings between prefab walls, and the heat insulation, i.e. the building's sanation. Stefan Hubenov, head of the Housing Policies department in the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works explained there could be no conflict of interests as the Energy and Energy Efficiency Act stipulates that one and the same firm may not carry out the sanation and issue a certificate. But the is not an explicit ban for the certifying company to recommend another one to make the examination. And the possibility of forcing the people living in a prefab building to choose a specific firm to perform the sanation as the block of flats would not be issued a certificate otherwise, should not be ruled out. Because it depends on the certifying company for how long the owner will be tax-exempt of paying inhabited house duty.

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