A NEW GATE IN THE PANTHEON OF CORRUPTION
At an extraordinary session during the week Parliament approved one of the most attacked legislative acts in the plenary hall - the Concessions Act. Its movement for discussion was accompanied by attributes such as interception of corrupt practices. In the last edition, however, it was these provisions that gave reasons for doubts in that direction, that were not changed substantially.
The law stipulates that the process for granting a concession shall be opened by a decision of the Council of Ministers or of the respective municipal council and be held through an open procedure, a limited procedure, a competition dialogue, or an electronic tender. The introduction of the so-called competition dialogue caused the biggest clash of opinions. It will be applied in cases when the procedure has already started and there are ambiguities on some positions. Apart from the assigner the candidates for the concession will take part in their clarification, which according to some stances will allow them to set the rules themselves.
Serious reasons for concern in the opposition were also the provisions of Chapter 13 - Appeals. In order to appeal against a decision in choosing a concessionaire, for instance, a firm should give up to BGN500,000 as a guarantee. And if the appeal is rejected for some reason it remains in the budget.
It was interesting that Kostadin Paskalev from BSP was among the critics of the proposed draft bill from the very beginning of the discussions. According to him, the expansion of the applicable field of the legislative act and including state property together with the public and private municipal property could lead to a situation when different procedures will be held for identical subjects. Another disputable issue for Mr. Paskalev is the possibility for annexation and transference of the concession contract to third parties, which has nothing in common with the European practice. Absolutely illogical, according to him is also the introduced entirely new concept of compensation on the part of the state, which may reach up to 50% of the expenses for management and maintenance of the concession and aims at a socially acceptable price of the services, offered by the concessionaire. Compensating the concessionaire for offering a service at a socially acceptable price means that the State gives up offering public services to citizens at such prices, says Mr. Paskalev.
Ivan Sotirov from UDF believes that the new act will predetermine Bulgaria's future in the long run. He warned that the document should specify the spending of the billions of euro which our country will be absorbing on joining the European Union, but it practically gives a formula for sacking that money.
The only thing we can do now is conjecture if the farce with the amendments to the Constitution would be repeated with the Concessions Act.