Bulgaria Regional Minister Vows 2013 Highway Completion
The funds for the construction of 3 of Bulgaria’s highways are secured and the works are to begin in 2010.
The information was announced Saturday in an interview for Darik radio by the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Rosen Plevneliev.
The total length of the “Trakya” (115), “Lyulin” (19,2) and “Maritsa” (67) highways is over 200 km, including the “Struma” highway segments and the tentative deadline for their completion is 2013, Plevneliev said.
The new public tender for the “Trakya” highway is beginning by the end of the month, the top bidder is to be selected by the end of February when construction will begin. The highway is financed 85% with EU funds and 15% with a loan from the European Investment Bank. The public tender for “Maritsa” will begin in the second half of 2010 with construction also beginning around that time. There are funds slated for the northern “Hemus” highway, but there isn’t any money for renovations of the segments that have already been built, the Minister explained.
“We have billions but we lack projects,” Plevneliev said.
The Minister confirmed that all tenders will be managed by a single body, as the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party promised, adding it would be either the Finance Ministry or the Economy Ministry, with the second being the most likely candidate.
Regarding the construction industry crisis, Plevneliev offered data showing that in the last 6 months the turnover of construction companies in Bulgaria went down 30-35% while from 1 500 companies registered in the national registry 500 will, most likely, shut their business.
“This data brings us close to Spain where there is a 45% reduction of construction works leading to 18% unemployment rate,” the Minister told Darik.
In addition, Plevneliev informed Bulgaria faces the threat of being asked to reimburse the EU with anywhere between EUR 350 M and 500 M in case the country fails to prove it had successfully absorbed the ISPA program funds.
The ISPA deadline is January 1, 2011 when an audit of all projects is to be conducted. In 10 years, Bulgaria has absorbed just one fourth of the total of EUR 1,6 B from the ISPA program.
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