Bulgarian Municipalities Sue Govt over Regional Devt Funds Allocation
Four municipalities ran by mayors from center-right party GERB are suing the government over the distribution of BGN 290 M in public funding.
The municipalities of Gabrovo, Kozloduy, Byala Slatina and Oryahovo oppose the distribution of financial resources under the public investment program "Growth and sustainable regional development."
The Gabrovo municipality submitted its complaint with the Supreme Administrative Court (VAS) on Wednesday, while the municipalities of Kozloduy, Byala Slatina and Oryahovo municipalities followed suit on Friday with a joint complaint filed by the Access to Information Program Foundation, according to reports of mediapool.bg.
The local authorities want VAS to revoke the ministerial decrees on the establishment of the fund and the selection of projects.
The three municipalities also want VAS to stop the government program until the final pronouncement on the case.
The municipalities insist that Bulgaria's coalition government illegitimately adopted a decree with retroactive effect. The complaints draw attention to the fact that the committee approved projects submitted just before the publication of the decree.
The municipalities also argue that the fund operated under opaque rules in violation of the State Budget Act.
The municipalities of Gabrovo, Kozloduy, Byala Slatina and Oryahovo cite breaches of the principles of equal treatment and competitiveness due to the failure to specify deadlines for the submission and review of projects.
The complaints also emphasize that no opportunity for reviewing objections was envisaged as part of the approval process.
The three municipalities argue that the legal breaches and the lack of transparency created preconditions for priority treatment of allies of the ruling parties and an opaque and biased distribution of public financial resources in the run-up to the European Parliament elections in 2014.
The three municipalities claim that the committee had examined a total of 1050 projects in the period January 27 – February 4, or 56 hours at the most, taking into account the New Year holidays, meaning that they processed over 18 projects per hour.
The municipalities underscore that the committee consists of ministers, whose main job is different, and that the members of the panel hardly had time to even read the documents.
The Road Infrastructure Agency is the only unit to have taken concrete steps to absorb the resources granted under the fund. The Agency announced public procurement procedures for the selection of a contractor. The Agency was given BGN 50 M under the "Growth and sustainable regional development" fund.
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