GERB Party Proposes Reducing Number of Bulgarian Municipalities by 1/3
Center-right party GERB has proposed a reduction of the number of municipalities in a bid to save financial and administrative resources and facilitate EU funds absorption.
Working groups of GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria), which are preparing its government program, are reviewing a proposal to merge small and inefficient municipalities plagued by excessive administrative costs and revenue shortages into big municipalities.
The proposal is part of a set of stabilization measures which GERB plans to introduce if it wins the early elections in October, according to reports of Pressa daily.
The proposal envisages reducing the number of municipalities by 1/3 at least, from a current rate of 264 to 176.
There has also been a proposal to reduce the number of districts from 28 to 6 and the number of municipalities to 150.
The current requirement for a municipality is a population of over 6000, including nearby villages located within 40 km.
The smallest Bulgarian municipality is the western municipality of Chavdar, which includes just one village with a population of 1272.
The proposal to merge municipalities was widely debated in 2010, during the term in office of the GERB government.
Then-EU Funds Minister Tomislav Donchev, who is supervising the creation of the party's new government program, proposed financial incentives for municipalities willing to join bigger municipalities.
A change in the number of municipalities can only take place through a presidential decree at a proposal of the Council of Ministers.
GERB has explained its proposal with a striving to optimize all costs in a bid to bridge the huge gap in the state coffers.
GERB representatives have explained that the details are yet to be specified, adding that the step could be introduced through changes to the Local Self-Government and Local Administration Act.
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