Bulgaria's draft Waste Management Act, which is supposed to prevent rampant metal theft, has come under vigorous fire by the Bulgarian Recycling Association.
The new law will force 1 000 SMEs into bankruptcy, which have acquired unlimited licenses for trading with ferrous and non-ferrous metals, costing the economy 14 000 jobs, according to the Bulgarian Recycling Association.
The draft act stipulates that depots for the purchase of scrap can be located only on municipal grounds within logistics or production facilities. According to both the respective business sector data and government data, only about 30% of the municipalities have proper resources to meet this requirement. 180 municipalities are expected to be left without depots for the buying out of ferrous and non-ferrous metals, which is discrimination, according to the Bulgarian Recycling Association.
The BRA further complains that the law will oblige the Bulgarian citizens to turn in their metal waste to the municipal depots for free, while paying the transportation costs and waste taxes, which curbs their property rights.
The Association states that it absolutely supports the legal provisions for the ban of trade with cables, railway rails, and other metal elements that are part of crucial infrastructure by physical persons, plus a number of other guarantees to curb abuses. However, it slams the draft legislations as an experiment that has not been thought all the way through because of the municipal depot requirements.
According to its estimates, by enforcing the new regulations, the state will lose BGN 30 M from corporate taxes, BGN 25 M from other taxes and fees, BGN 7 M from income taxes, BGN 25 M, or 10% of the freight income of the Bulgarian State Railways BDZ, among others.
The BRA proposes the setting up of a special working group with all interested actors in order to come up with real measures that will indeed terminate the theft of metals.
The position of the Association has been supported by 200 firms, and 4 000 workers to date, and will be tabled to the Parliament.
Metal and cable theft is emerging as an even greater and greater issue as literally hundreds of thousands of people in Bulgaria resort to it – all the way from those living in abject poverty and trying to raise subsistence money in the countryside to organized mafia groups. The overwhelming majority of those dealing with cable and metal theft are believed to be ethnic Roma, a phenomenon underlining the plight of the Roma community.
The authorities in Bulgaria have failed totally to counter metal theft either by enforcing restricture measures, or by creating employment and development for underprivileged communities.