A long-term investment program for Northern Bulgaria is needed. On this agreed the participants in the Fourth International Conference “Investments and Infrastructure in Northern Bulgaria” organized by the Bulgarian Construction Chamber (BCC) and Iskra Mihaylova, Chair of the Committee on Regional Development at the European Parliament (EP). Co-organizer and media partner of the event, which took place in Lukovit, was Stroitel Newspaper.
The forum was attended by Iskra Mihaylova, Chair of the Committee on Regional Development at the European Parliament, Eng. Iliyan Terziev, Chairman of the MB of BCC, Krasimir Zhivkov, Deputy Minister of Environment and Water, Malina Krumova, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Eng. Svetoslav Glosov, member of the MB of Road Infrastructure Agency and Honorary Chairman of BCC, Kornelia Marinova, Mayor of Lovech Municipality, Stamen Yanev, Executive Director of InvestBulgaria Agency, Valeri Belchev, member of the MB of Fund Manager of Financial Instruments in Bulgaria EAD, the District Governors of Montana Rosen Belchev, of Veliko Tarnovo Prof. Dr. Lyubomira Popova, of Ruse Galin Grigorov, mayors and representatives of municipalities. On the part of BCC in the forum participated Eng. Blagoy Kozarev, member of the Executive Bureau and the MB of BCC, Chairman of section “Hydrotechnical Construction, Water Supply and Sewerage Systems”, Valentin Nikolov, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of BCC, Eng. Miroslav Maznev, Executive Director of the Chamber, the members of the MB of BCC Ivan Ivanov, Dr. Ec. Sc. Nikolay Ivanov and Lyubomir Peynovski, Eng. Roseta Marinova, member of the MB of BCC and Chair of the Committee on Professional Ethics at BCC, Eng. Danka Kirilova, Chair of the Regional Office of BCC – Montana, Eng. Dimo Mirchev, Chairman of the Regional Office of BCC – Silistra, Valentin Krastev, Chairman of the Regional Office of BCC – Vidin.
During the event were discussed topical issues related to the regional policy of the European Union, present and future investments in infrastructure, cross-border cooperation, the potential and prospects for the construction sector in Northern Bulgaria, opportunities for development of the region, for public-private partnerships, mechanisms for the use of financial instruments.
“Thank you for your presence and participation in this extremely important meeting which I have the honor to organize together with BCC. I have a modest cooperation for it and I am proud of it since in recent years
Together with the Chamber we managed to realize a series of meetings which are of great importance both for the investment process in Bulgaria and for the role of BCC in the overall investment process
and the investment policy of the country.” This was stated by Iskra Mihaylova, Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Regional Development (REGI). She reminded that during the years in the forums participated the then Director General of the European Commission’s Directorate General for Regional and Urban Policy Walter Defa, Vazil Hudak, Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, the Vice-President of the European Commission for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness Jyrki Katainen. “During these meetings we outlined the main directions in which BCC could assist in the decision-making process for Bulgaria’s investment policy. We held a very successful discussion in the European Parliament in Brussels with the BCC representatives, during which we talked with the Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the Euro and Social Dialogue, also in charge of Financial Stability, Financial Services and Capital Markets Union Valdis Dombrovskis. It gave a side-note of our discussions and allowed us to broaden the debate horizon here, in Bulgaria, with regard to the opportunities that all the EU’s comprehensive policy gives for investment leading to changes that bring about European added value and change the quality of life of European citizens,” said Mihaylova adding that the forum in Lukovit is of another type. “I also thank very much the local authorities, Mrs. Kornelia Marinova, Mayor of Lovech, Prof. Dr. Popova, District Governor of Veliko Tarnovo, for their participation. We wanted to focus on Northern Bulgaria. It includes three planning regions according to the map to date. When we talk about the future, we will hear
Mrs. Malina Krumova, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, and we will have the opportunity to comment on what the fate of the regions will be after 2020,” said the Chair of the Regional Development Committee and added that these regions are among the so-called lagging behind. She reminded that a month ago the World Bank reported to the Commission its latest study on the impact of the European investment policy on the regions and reiterated that not only those in Northern Bulgaria but also in other parts of the Union there are three main problems that can be set in different order but should be accepted in a complex way. The first one is the poor infrastructure. The second one is the poor quality of services provided to citizens. The third one is related to the quality of education and the relationship between it, vocational training and the opportunities for realization on the territory of these areas. According to analysts, it does not matter how these indicators are ranked. “The sum is always unpleasant if they are negative. Today we focus on one of them – infrastructure and investment in it. This is the competence of BCC and I thank very much the Chamber for the approach which it consistently follows – not expectations for any projects that will happen and will be analyzed but an active participation in the policy development and creation of opportunities for the realization of sites. I am convinced that not one project can decide the future of a region but a complex approach and a common set of proposals, interconnected to their goals can change the quality of life of people in Northern Bulgaria. I very much expect that during the meeting we will hear the positions of all the participants. It will be of great benefit to me,” said Mihaylova and pointed out that the EP will be discussing both the post -2020 Multiannual Financial Framework and the new regulations for the European Structural Funds under Regional Policy. “When I have received the suggestions, views, opinions of the people who are actively involved and responsible for these processes in Bulgaria, I will have more arguments to defend a regional policy that is closely related to the requirements of specific territories in the EU, including Northern Bulgaria.
Thank you once again for your participation. I thank the Deputy-Ministers for the kind cooperation and especially BCC for the fruitful partnership and the good initiatives,”
“It is a great honor for me to participate in the opening of the conference. I want to thank my colleagues from the Management Board of the Chamber, as well as all representatives of the central and local authorities who are here,” said Eng. Iliyan Terziev, Chairman of the MB of BCC, at the opening of the Fourth International Conference “Investments and Infrastructure in Northern Bulgaria”. “Please allow me at the beginning to send special greetings to Mrs. Iskra Mihaylova, initiator and engine of this meeting not only now but also for many years. I would like to stress that for the fourth consecutive year the Chamber and Mrs. Mihaylova jointly organize forums on important topics for the branch. For the first time, however, the forum is focused on a particular region of the country – Northern Bulgaria, and this is by no means accidental,” he said. “Many policies and strategies have been drawn up for the region. Unfortunately, there are no visible results. The region remains one of the least developed in Bulgaria and in Europe with serious demographic problems, low investment levels, high unemployment rate. This situation naturally affects negatively the construction section in the region,” explained Eng. Terziev. “The purpose of this forum is first of all – to hear from the Chair of the Committee on Regional Development at the European Parliament Mrs. Mihaylova the most important priorities set in the new Post 2020 Multiannual Financial Framework,” he added. “Secondly, we expect to know from the institutions – the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works (MRDPW), the Ministry of Environment and Water (MEW), the Road Infrastructure Agency (RIA) – what the investment intentions for Northern Bulgaria are in the sphere of road and environmental infrastructure in terms of energy efficiency and urban development. We expect to hear information about specific projects with schedules for their implementation. Thirdly, here there are representatives of the Fund of Funds and the InvestBulgaria Agency – we expect from them information both about the investment opportunities for Northern Bulgaria and what are the financial support opportunities that the construction companies can take advantage of,” said Eng. Terziev.
“For us, as a Chamber, it is very important to work for the sector to have a clear long-term perspective between 7 and 15 years for the upcoming projects in sector Construction,”
to have predictability of investment, including through the creation of national funds. This concerns both the whole country and regional planning. Our position is that such a long-term policy, financially secured, will enable the sector to plan its technical and human resources, will create conditions for stability,” the Chairman of BCC said. “Specifically, for Northern Bulgaria we believe that it would be good to consider developing a comprehensive long-term infrastructure program, including its funding. Such a program would bring about a revival of the region,” he said. “I find organizing the conference which brings together representatives of the central and local authorities and the construction industry, as a good sign of our common desire to seek together solutions to the current topics for Northern Bulgaria. Mrs. Mihaylova’s presence and commitment also show the European dimension of the need for development of the regions. I wish a fruitful discussion at the forum and I expect that at the end we will come up with constructive joint proposals,” said Eng. Terziev, Chairman of the MB of BCC.
“I have the honor and responsibilit y to present the local authorities in a round of issues that are of particular importance to all the inhabitants of Northern Bulgaria and our municipalities. It is very important that there is a RIA representative – Eng. Svetoslav Glosov. There is no way to talk about infrastructure without their active participation in the whole process,” said Kornelia Marinova, Mayor of Lovech, and added that the poor condition of the infrastructure in Northern Bulgaria is a fact, which is considerably lagging behind Southern Bulgaria. “And we ourselves realize as chosen by the people that there is no bigger brake on economic growth than its poor state. That is why we are very grateful to Mrs. Mihaylova as Chair of the Committee on Regional Development at the European Parliament, the MRDPW, MEW and BCC that we are discussing together a whole range of problems, the solution of which will improve the quality of life of our fellow citizens,” said Marinova. “I am a teacher in education. Just as our alphabet is the basis of a system of everything we do in our lives and create so much I want the infrastructure at one point to represent the same system, in Northern Bulgaria, in a way that allows all our fellow citizens to travel freely and to feel secure and confident because movement is life,” she said. “With a hand in hand, with common efforts, with vision for the future – what the MFF will draw and with the new conditions in the next programming periods we will really be able
with your help – the builders – to achieve the goals we have committed to our fellow citizens,”
Marinova explained and welcomed the efforts of the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria for what is being done during this programming period under the OP Environment, under OP Regions in Growth. “What is being done during the period will improve the urban environment and infrastructure and will be a big step but still insufficient. Let us look with perspective in the future,” said the mayor of Lovech.
Deputy Minister of Environment and Water Krasimir Zhivkov provided information on the investments made under the OP Environment 2007 – 2013, and the foreseen during the programming period 2014 – 2020 under the program in Northern Bulgaria. In his words, the region is not forgotten as the figures and facts speak of. Under Priority Axis 1 Water under OPE 2014 – 2020 to the present moment have been signed 24 contracts for a total of BGN 946 million. A total 17 of them are infrastructure for BGN 836 million, and they have received grants for a little more than BGN 620 million. A procedure for construction of the water supply and sewerage infrastructure is expected to be announced soon. “I would like to say that
of the total investment, approximately 1/3 are directed to Northern Bulgaria both in the past programming period and the present.
The responsibility for attracting funds lies with the beneficiaries. – the consolidated water and sewerage operators and the municipalities,” he said.
Malina Krumova, Deputy Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, presented the development of the already started projects in the water supply and sewerage infrastructure and informed about the forthcoming ones to be announced under OP Regions in Growth 2014 – 2020 and the Cross-Border Cooperation Programs Bulgaria – Serbia and Bulgaria – Romania in Northern Bulgaria. She pointed out that about BGN 1.6 billion under OPE 2014 – 2020 are provided for investments in water and sewerage systems for agglomeration for over 10 thousand inhabitants. Krumova made a short presentation also of the state of the National Energy Efficiency Program for Multifamily Residential Buildings (NEEPMRB). Under the program activities have started on 497 buildings and 267 sites in Northern Bulgaria have been put into operation. The total investment of the program in the region is nearly BGN 393 million or nearly 20% of the total financial resource worth BGN 2 billion.
“We must start thinking about public investments as something that contributes to more investment.
We put emphasis on public-private partnerships, the creation of opportunities to attract larger investments, more capital. This is a growing trend,” said Malina Krumova.
According to Eng. Svetoslav Glosov, member of the MB of RIA and Honorary Chairman of BCC,
strategic priority is the completion of Hemus Motorway.
He explained that the section from Yablanitsa to the road junction Boaza is currently being implemented, with 15% already realized. Soon the construction of the section from road junction Belokopitovo to road junction Buhovtsi with a length of 16.3 km will start. Among the other priority road projects are: the Ruse – Veliko Tarnovo Motrway, the Gabrovo passage, the tunnel under Shipka peak, Vidin – Botevgrad direction.
Stamen Yanev, Executive Director of Invest Bulgaria Agency, presented the incentives for investments in Northern Bulgaria. He stressed that the local relationship between mayors and district governors was of utmost importance. “Infrastructure is important for attracting new capital in a given area,” he said.
Valeri Belchev, member of the MB of the Fund of Funds, explained to the participants in the forum that
the financial intermediaries who will manage the urban development funds under OP Regions in Growth will soon be determined
that are for BGN 350 million. They are divided into three. The first is for Northern Bulgaria – BGN 130 million, for Southern Bulgaria – BGN 135 million, and for Sofia – BGN 87 million. Projects for improving the urban environment, in the sphere of energy efficiency and tourism will be realized.
At the end of the conference Iskra Mihaylova, Chair of the Committee on Regional Development at the European Parliament, said that in terms of the implementation of the operational programs Bulgaria is in the middle of the European Union. According to her, 16 countries have asked for reprogramming their programs, because they will not meet the set goals. She said that after 2020 our country will be able to rely on funds for environmental infrastructure, urban environment, migration and security.
Then a discussion took place.