Bulgaria Restarts Stalled Financial Decentralization Process
The working program listing the most urgent measures for launching the financial decentralization process by end-2013 has been adopted, according to Bulgaria's Regional Development Minister Desislava Terzieva.
Terzieva presented the steps on Thursday after the first sitting of the restored Council on Decentralizing Central Government, according to a media statement of the Regional Development Ministry.
The measures are mostly related and envisage: an analysis of the opportunities for changing the financial model; narrowing down the number of delegated activities; expanding the scope of local revenues and the amount of the subsidies; an analysis of the reasons which led to the application of substantial financial corrections to the beneficiaries of operational programs; permanent regulation of the responsibilities related to the financial corrections; introducing joint responsibility for the Managing Authorities of the Operational Programs.
"The process of financial decentralization was stopped in 2011, which resulted in numerous problems for the local authorities and blocked the implementation of key reforms. The resumption of the activity of the Council is the first step towards the restart of the process", Terzieva said.
"The government believes that offering public services must take place closer to citizens. This is the way to go if we want to achieve better and more accessible administrative and social services," she added.
Bulgaria's Regional Development Minister explained that municipal bodies were best acquainted with local problems, adding that municipalities had to be provided with financial resources for the delegated activities.
She explained that the issue of fast-tracking financial decentralization was among the key measures included in the government's program and noted that the Council was expected to have a major contribution to the resumption of the process.
Terzieva informed that the Regional Development Ministry would take care of the coordination and communication in order to guarantee the efficiency and transparency of the work of the Council.
"Today is a good day for Bulgarian municipalities," she declared, stressing that the financial decentralization process had been relaunched.
Todor Popov, Chair of the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria (NAMRB), claimed that there had been no activities related to the decentralization process over the past two years, meaning that the process of turning Bulgaria into a more normal and more European country had been blocked.
Ginka Chavdarova, NAMRB Executive Director, made clear that the approach to decentralization had been changed, adding that the focus would be narrowed down to the implementation of several key measures, instead of a wide range of such activities.
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