Sand Dunes Scandal to End up Costly for Bulgarian Taxpayers
The State might end up shelling nearly BGN 100 M after amending the Forestry and Farming Lands Acts over the recent scandal with construction on protected sand dunes.
Agriculture Minister, Miroslav Naydenov, explained Monday that many land plots have been already excluded from the State forestry fund and the money from these deals is already in the treasury.
According to Naydenov, stopping all documentation and procedures on them, as it was decided at a meeting between the Cabinet and eco activists, would force the State to reimburse beneficiaries.
The scandal with construction actitivities on 29 decares of protected area between Ravda and Nessebar on the Black Sea coast erupted in the last days of 2012 when environmentalists said that the area was part of the Aheloy-Ravda-Nessebar protected area from the Natura 2000.
In the aftermath, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov ordered Bulgaria's Ministers of Regional Development, Agriculture, and Environment to update the Forestry Act, the Environmental Protection Act, the Biological Diversity Act, and the Black Sea Coast Organization Act "so that such deals and construction projects couldn't be allowed."
The above, however, might end up being costly for taxpayers.
Naydenov promised Monday to make public the exact amounts in Executive Forestry Agency revenues from changing the statute of the lands. When the deals are annulled, these amounts must be reimbursed, he stressed, reiterating once again that the statute changes happened during the term of the previous Cabinet – from 2007 to mid-2009.
The Minister backed his deputy, Svetla Boyanova, who is the official signing the scandalous contract for the dunes on grounds she was "a lawyer, not expert." He blamed the Forestry Agency for not explaining the case to her. Naydenov further noted that Borisov shared the same opinion on Boyanova's involvement, but he was ultimately the one who can hold a deputy minister responsible.
It also emerged after the Monday meeting that Biser Dachev, Head of Bulgaria's Executive Forestry Agency, and Boycho Georgiev, Head of the Regional Inspectorate of Environment and Water in the Black Sea city of Burgas, will be dismissed over failure to react to tip-offs about irregularities with protected areas.
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