Bulgarian Construction Chamber and Bulgarian Water Association will work to implement the reform in the water sector. This became clear during the fourth conference “Challenges in the implementation of projects under OPE and RDP”. The forum was organized by the BCC and BWA, with the media partnership of “Stroitel” newspaper. It gathered over 250 representatives of contractors, beneficiaries and executors. The conference was opened by Minister of Environment and Water Ivelina Vasileva, Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Lilyana Pavlova, Eng. Svetoslav Glosov, BCC Chairman, and Eng. Ivan Ivanov, BWA Chairman. With presentations in the program joined Deputy Mayor of Sofia Municipality Irina Savina, Yana Georgieva, chief of Main Directorate “Operational Program Environment” to MEW, Radoslav Rusev – adviser in the political cabinet of the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works, Reneta Georgieva, v.i.d. Executive Director of PUDOOS, Eng. Dobromir Simidchiev, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Fund FLAG, Pavlina Evtimova – expert, Directorate “Contracting under Rural Development Measures”, Bozhidar Popov, expert, Directorate “Payment Authorization RDP to State Fund Agriculture and others. The forum was attended by members of the BCC Board and regional chairmen.
“The undone reform in the water sector creates problems in the construction of projects under Operational Program Environment. It is necessary to implement the measures outlined in the Strategy for Development and Management of the Water Supply and Sanitation Sector in the Republic of Bulgaria and the EC requirement in every area of the country to be determined a single water operator,” said at the opening of the conference Eng. Svetoslav Glosov, BCC Chairman. “It is high time to implement the legislative reform to avoid the risk of a 3-year period without European funding in the sector. We should seek interim implementation of already prepared and passed approval projects,” he added.
“The most serious problem in 2014 was suspended payments under Operational Program Environment 2007 – 2013”. The implementation of many projects was delayed and this put in a difficult situation construction companies that had to continue to pay suppliers and subcontractors. I would not say that I am optimistic about the new operational program but I am not a pessimist. The reason is that OP Environment 2014 – 2020 has not yet been approved by the EC. Somewhat the state can reduce the delay if it starts in advance to finance projects under OPE 2014 – 2020 and starts the process for award earlier. It would be better the new projects to be performed in engineering. We think this is the most effective and efficient award option,” said Eng. Glosov.
He presented the opinion of the Bulgarian Construction Chamber in support of the reform in the water sector to ministers Ivelina Vasileva and Lilyana Pavlova.
“For the third year in conjunction with our partners from the Chamber of Builders in Bulgaria and with the active participation of “Stroitel” newspaper we manage to gather experts in the water sector – people who work daily for development of the sector to discuss the challenges in the implementation of projects under OPE and RDP and what we can do to make them more successful,” said Eng. Ivan Ivanov in his address to participants in the forum.
According to him, among the main problems in the implementation process is the poor communication between various participants in the process. “It is necessary also to discuss the issue for the subsequent operation of the new facilities and particularly if there are defects how to proceed with their elimination. Their maintenance is responsibility of water operators and they are not party to the contract to the current operational period,” said Eng. Ivanov.
“We will need a lot of courage and joint efforts to continue all activities which we started together with most of you in 2010 – 2011 when was put the basis of the reform in the water sector,” said Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Lilyana Pavlova. “Reform” in our country is already a dirty word. When one hears it, he imagines negative things. I hope together to find the right solution to this – to be associated with something positive,” said Pavlova.
“Before we started the changes we should say what the starting position in which the sector currently is. Its condition is not good. Huge investments are needed. Water losses in different regions vary between 28% and 82%. The average figure for the country is 60%, which is extremely high and is indicative of the old network. We need to meet the demands of European legislation for sector Environment. We should not forget that there are a number of EC infringement procedures against Bulgaria. I hope that we will make sure they will complete without penalties for Bulgaria,” said the regional minister.
According to Pavlova, the needed for the water sector funds over the next 10 years are huge – EUR 11.7 billion. “Under OPE 2014 – 2020” can be provided over EUR 1 billion, and under RDP – about EUR 100 million. “The amount is not small, i.e. we talk about nearly BGN 2 billion, which we will realize together until 2020,” she said. But before the actual assimilation of the funds, it is necessary to continue with the reform in the sector and to complete it by 2016.
“On a regional basis and on the basis of feasibility study will be prepared the application forms for the projects to be completed by 2020. The Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works will have a leading role in the coordination of activities in this process. This will create a special council that will deal with the reform in the water sector. This council will be headed by Radoslav Rusev, who is adviser in my political office,” added Pavlova. “The most important thing is in 21st century not to continue to be the country with most areas of water rationing and the problem with access to drinking water. This is our long term goal. Steps to it will not be easy but I hope they will be successful if we unite our efforts,” stressed Pavlova.
“We are completing the first programming period under OPE. We have repeatedly discussed issues that concern all of us and are connected with the implementation of basic commitments of the country as a member of the EU and implementing the policies on integrated water management, reform of the sector, implementation of strategic goals for Bulgaria, and the result of all these efforts should be to improve the lives of citizens of the country,” said Ivelina Vasileva, Minister of Environment and Water. “OPE experienced no little turbulence in the last year. This was perhaps its most dramatic period – of suspended funding from the European Commission. For six months funding from the state budget was also stopped, which inevitably affected the construction sector. I would like to express my particular gratitude for the efforts that were made during this period by beneficiaries of the operational program – the municipalities that risked even their budgets to continue to pay off the projects. Thanks to construction companies that remained at the sites in difficulties infinitely both in terms of the ability to operate with working capital and to maintain its workforce and equipment. In sector “Water” the state was indebted to business on a large scale – BGN 800 million. However, the sites continue to be implemented,” added Vasileva and reminded that the European Commission has already unblocked funds under OPE. The regular payment on the projects has started. “This, of course, cannot compensate for all the delays. We have very serious tasks which are short-termed. They are associated with the ability to minimize the expected loss of funds under the program which is in the range of EUR 140 – 205 million, normalize the pace of work and complete projects within the time limit under OPE,” said Environment Minister.
“We expect with joint efforts to improve and simplify the management of projects. It is necessary to focus on their effectiveness. The most serious obstacles are related to the conduct of public procurement. During the programming period 2014 – 2020 will be used a standardized tender documentation. We expect cooperation from BCC and BWA. We will work for standardized price tables so as to facilitate the reporting of projects because this is not an easy task. Our goal will be to simplify any form of interaction, not to prolong with years technical solutions but to realize rapidly,” said Vasileva and added she was convinced that BCC and BWA would continue to be guarantee for observance of the standards related to the achievement of quality performance because “we all aim at one thing – implementation of sustainable policies in the sector.”
“We hope for a quick approval of OPE 2014 – 2020 in order to begin to realize projects from the beginning of next year and to prevent more zero periods. In sector “Water” we will rely on BGN 2.5 billion. It is insufficient to satisfy all needs related to the construction of water supply infrastructure. This is a resource that should not be wasted, so we continue in operational order in excellent cooperation to discuss the opportunities to start as soon as possible the period. We will build facilities for sludge treatment under OPE 2014 – 2020, she said and pointed out that during the current period were prepared in their technical par