Association of Municipalities Decries Lack of Reform in 2015 Budget
Emil Savov, Deputy Executive Director of the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria (NAMRB), has expressed concern over the lack of plans for local governance reform in the 2015 budget.
In a Monday interview for the Bulgarian National Radio, Savov said that the NAMRB had been hoping for a tangible stabilization after the parliamentary elections in October, taking into account that the country had had two caretaker governments and a regular government with a short term in office in the past two years.
“We find it worrying that the state is preoccupied with the insolvency of a bank and yet the authorities have failed to find the time to address the issues of municipalities, which are part of the public sector, given that some of them are technically bankrupt, mainly due to unsolved problems with the absorption of funding or matters concerning their financial independence,” he stated.
“To us this budget means a wasted year. With local elections are forthcoming in 2015, we were hoping that urgent matters such as increasing the financial independence of municipalities, increasing the revenue base, and drafting a new Local Taxes and Fees Act, would be completed so that at the start of the next term in office in 2016 the local authorities would work in a high-quality environment. However, this is a budget of the status quo,” the deputy head of the NAMRB announced.
He also commented that the payments to Bulgaria under operational programs Environment had been restored and there were no problems there.
“However, problems are observed in the sphere of financial corrections. The Finance Ministry has to develop a mechanism of dividing the responsibility for financial corrections between the state and municipalities because this problem has been snowballing since 2007. This is yet another problem which has been swept under the carpet but the bomb will go of very soon. What is more, a second year with no access to EU funding seems to be looming ahead within the 2014-2020 period,” Savov noted.
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