Банкеръ Weekly


Water Reform Consultants To Line Pockets with Millions

Recently appointed to power caretaker Government started to follow the development strategy for reforming the water sector that was promises back in the first days of the previous GERB government. It was adopted by the National Assembly at the end of last year, but its relevance is questionable, as all research and generalizations have been based on information prior to 2010. Besides, the document does not propose solutions to serious problems in this area. What was referred to was only the bombastic amount of 26-27 billion levs that is needed for investment in the water sector, irrigation, irrigation systems, etc., without saying where from and when the politicians intend to find the money.

In March the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works announced, as is in wartime, a whole bunch of orders for the hiring of consultants and other experts to prepare contracts for water and sanitation, reports, analyzes, to carry out workshops and seminars to provide legal assistance, to write ordinances, regulations, and more. As a whole, for state employees there will be no work left to do, although they will still be receiving their monthly salaries. Unfortunately, the practice of giving money to private companies to do the work of the administration is not at all new. In this case, the money to be spent will not come from the budget. All expenditures will be financed by the project Support to the Reform of the Water Sector, which the ministry won under the Environment Operational Programme in June 2012. Its budget is exactly 16,762,475 Levs, which is scheduled to be absorbed by August 31, 2014.

In fact for the development of the Rules of Procedure of the associations in the water as well as for the Ordinance on requirements and criteria for water operators and the qualifications of their staff a contract has already been signed with United Eurolex Water 1. Registered under the Law on Obligations and Contracts, the company will receive for their work a total of 132 thousand levs. The organization's co-owner and procurator is Andrey Delchev. That gentleman is known as the chairman of the Bulgarian Petroleum and Gas Association. He is a member of the University Council of the American University in Bulgaria. His name was among the most talked about for a caretaker prime minister before President Rossen Plevneliev finally selected Marin Raikov.

Obviously companies around Mr. Delchev must be very capable in the water issues as the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works has signed another contract with them. It is with the joint-venture Water Experts, which is a partner of the law firm Delchev, Kolcheva, Smilenov, Koev and Partners. The sum is nearly 270 thousand levs, and against the money a team of experts will assist the ministry in implementing the project Support to the Reform of the Water Sector. Generally, they will provide specialized consulting services for assistance in the preparation of opinions, analyzes, reports and recommendations for legislation and policy documents. The people of Mr. Delchev will also carry out the legal interpretation of existing national and European legislation in the water field. They will also provide advice to the Ministry in the implementation of public procurement.

But that's not all. The serious sums to be paid to private consultants are yet to come. Over 1 million lev will go to a series of trainings, study visits and thematic workshops to enhance the capacity of professionals in the water associations, operators and the regional directorates of the ministry. According to the documents, the latter was essential for the successful implementation of reforms in the sector, the effective management of assets and the improvement the quality of water supplies and sewerage services. Obviously these currently employed experts who regularly want to increase the price of water, and those who monitor the rules are not very familiar with their work. However, we must ask the question in what exactly the heads of water operators and the ministry are knowledgeable, since the workshops will teach an introduction to the economics of the water industry, and will explain the legal framework and regulatory policy in the water sector as well as the role of associations in the industry to provide such services?


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