Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

BILLIONS OF LEVS SHORTAGES IN THE INFRASTRUCTURE ACCOUNT

There will be obviously concussions in the fulfilment of the national strategy on the development of infrastructure. During the public discussion of the project on July 12 it became evident that shortages for the implementation of the planned projects amounted to billions of levs.
It's a public secret that Bulgaria is lagging behind in the development of its infrastructure and that concerns not only road, but also energy, transport and ecology infrastructure, Premier Sergey Stanishev said. Although the strategy has not come to light as a whole yet, it is already known that the biggest amount of money will be necessary for roads and ecology.
BGN5.7BN-plus will be needed for environmental projects till the year 2015, Minister of Environment and Water Dzhevdet Chakarov specified. The bulk of that money - about BGN4BN - will be spent for the construction of collectors, purification stations and water and sewage network. BGN1.6BN has been earmarked for settlements with population over 10,000 people and the remaining funds will be directed to towns and villages with population between 2,000 and 10,000 people.
Another BGN1.6BN will be invested in the construction of regional facilities for household garbage, installations for treatment of biosoluble wastes, a national centre for dangerous refuse, rehabilitation of polluted areas, separate garbage collection, etc.
Apart from that another BGN1.5BN will be necessary for water supply facilities, proposed by the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works. Construction of water and sewage infrastructure in tourist and leisure industry resorts and repair of the water and sewage network in population centres will be the major priority. The recent floods along the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, threatening the entire summer season, showed the emergency of these tasks.
It is another question how far the money will suffice, considering the fact that only BGN3.81BN has been earmarked in the Finance Ministry's framework for the environment sector in the 2007-2013 period. Thus, the shortage of funds for sites of the Ministry of Environment alone is almost BGN3BN.
In that situation both the Ministry of Environment and Water and the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works will have to uphold the importance of the projects, proposed by them and give up some of their financial claims to the European funds and the budget. In fact, the contribution of the Treasury will be more than modest, Finance Minister Plamen Oresharski confessed when presenting the strategy. His stance is that during the first year of Bulgaria's EU-membership the European funds will be absorbed more slowly. One of the reasons, as PM Stanishev pointed out, is the lack of coordination between institutions and of money for drafting projects. That is why loans from the European Investment Bank, the World Bank, and the Council of Europe Development Bank will be relied on initially. Public-cum-private partnerships will be another possible source of funds, but they will be chiefly resorted to for the concessioning of motorways. According to calculations of the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works, EUR4.3BN will be necessary for the construction and repair of motorways and roads (EUR3.3BN for the motorways and almost EUR1BN for the republican road network).
The strategy we are preparing will contain schedules and plans for implementation, as well as specific mechanisms for control. It will describe the stage of the projects and the possibilities for financing, Premier Stanishev promised.
However, representatives of big-scale business in Bulgaria did not seem very impressed by the rulers' plans. The Chairman of the Bulgarian Industrial Association Bozhidar Danev said that the Government should not just present a list of the sites it intends to build, but also specify the benefit from each individual investment and what additional flows it would attract. According to him, the Cabinet's priorities do not become evident from the strategy, i.e. if it will be making short-term investments in certain sites (as road and transport infrastructure for instance) or if the focus will be on the social string - construction of purifying stations, garbage dumps, sewage network, etc. Undoubtedly, this is a key question that needs quite a quick answer, considering the fact that there is not sufficient money to realize everything.

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