Bulgaria's government is certain to set up a state-owned mega-company to be in charge of large-scale infrastructure projects, a somewhat controversial brainchild of Regional Development Minister Rosen Plevneliev.
The new infrastructure company will be called State Company "Strategic Infrastructure Projects". It is to be established as on Thursday, the Bulgarian Parliament adopted amendments to the Road Traffic Act, which include provisions for its setting up.
The mega-structure will be place in charge of "strategic infrastructure projects", namely the Struma Highway (running from Sofia to the border with Greece; expected completion date - 2014), the Hemus Highway (running from Sofia to Varna through Northern Bulgaria; expected completion date unknown), or the Cherno More (i.e. Black Sea) Highway (running between Varna and Burgas on the Black Sea coast; expected completion date unknown).
Unlike the Trakiya Highway (running from Sofia to Varna via Southern Bulgaria; expected completion date – 2012), the Maritsa Highway (running from the Trakiya Highway to the border with Turkey; expected completion date – 2013) and the just completed Lyulin Highway (running from Sofia to the Struma Highway), Struma, Hemus, and Cherno More have been lagging behind.
According to the MPs of the ruling center-right party GERB, Plevneliev's proposal is supposed to accelerate the realization of these major infrastructure projects, and to lead to a more efficient absorption of EU funds, especially under EU's "Transport" operational program.
Bulgaria's Strategic Infrastructure Projects company will have a status of a state enterprise under the Commercial Act.
Opposition MPs such as former Socialist Transport Minister Petar Mutafchiev have criticized the establishment of the new company arguing that it will be eating away at the functions of the existing Road Infrastructure Agency.
The previous head of the Agency, Bozhidar Yotov, resigned from his post over disagreement with Regional Development Minister Rosen Plevneliev, including over the establishment of the new statement company for the three above-mentioned highways.
According to preliminary estimates, the planning of the Struma, Hemus, and Cherno More highways will cost EUR 160 M, while their construction will total over EUR 4 B.
The Struma Highway, whose construction is well under way, alone will cost EUR 1.1 B.
Earlier this week, Regional Development Minister Rosen Plevneliev, who is the Bulgarian public official with the highest approval rating, announced projects for the repair and rehabilitation of 3 100 km of God-forsaken roads across Bulgaria.