Bulgaria to seek EUR 1bn in European money for road repairs
Bulgaria will ask the European Commission (EC) for permission to reallocate EUR 1 billion in financing under the operational programmes for road upgrades, regional development minister Rosen Plevneliev. Plevneliev, who yesterday presented the unprecedented idea to EU ambassadors and said they had pledged to lobby for putting it into practice.
If the proposal gets the go-ahead from Brussels, the cash pots could start to be dished out from the autumn. They would be used not to fill in pot holes but for extensive repairs of Bulgarian roads, Plevneliev stressed.
"This is the first [Bulgarian] government to place roads top of its priority list as filling up pot holes is one big hole," he explained, adding that Bulgaria’s deepest hole is the Belene nuclear power plant, which has sunk in BGN 2 billion. This would have been enough to build three new motorways, he noted.
The idea aims to take financing under the seven operational programmes earmarked for risky projects or projects that cannot be completed by 2013 and pump it into road repairs, Plevneliev said. He pointed out that if other EU members throw their weight behind the reallocation proposal, this would be a "great sign of solidarity."
Furthermore, this would be a strong stimulus measure as it would give work to companies, the minister noted, adding that the new roads will bring more tourists to Bulgaria.