The Ministry of Economy is working on the project for Ruse Airport. Our goal is to start the process by the end of the year. The investment costs are for basic and leading infrastructure. We hope that from the beginning of 2022 regular civil flights from Sofia and back will start. This was stated by the Minister of Economy Daniela Vezieva during the forum "Business follows the transport infrastructure" with a focus on Northern Bulgaria, which is being held in Ruse. The event was also attended by the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Violeta Komitova, the Minister of Finance Valeri Belchev and the Deputy Minister of Transport, Information Technology and Communications Hristina Velinova.
"The reconstruction of Ruse Airport will also serve the neighboring cities and will help the connectivity of Northern and Southern Bulgaria. The regional imbalance between the two regions is one of the problems that has been deepening for years instead of being solved. All research shows that good infrastructure is a prerequisite for both developed business and investment, as well as for stable trade relations between customer and supplier. Therefore, we expect this policy to become a priority for the next government and to continue throughout the period until 2026, "said Vezieva.
Minister Vezieva pointed out the opportunities offered by the Recovery Plan for infrastructure projects, pointing out that the state will finance the infrastructure leading to the industrial zones. According to her, BGN 400 million are set under the project fiche for industrial zones. Investors will be able to finance technical and social infrastructure in them. "The idea is that when a business investor appears with some intention, he has the opportunity on a market basis to choose a place to develop his business. In this approach to the Recovery Plan, both municipalities and industrial parks will be able to apply." she added.
Regional development is not empty words, but a way to achieve a better life for our citizens and consists of a large number of activities, projects and policies. The ultimate goal is to equalize living standards. This was stated by the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Violeta Komitova, who also took part in the forum.
She reminded that the responsibilities of the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works include road and water infrastructure, buildings and other constructions that benefit the people. These strategic objects are happening thanks to the governments before us, our government and the next ones. These are complex projects that take time and require a lot of effort. That is why they do not belong to anyone, but to Bulgaria. The Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works has committed to move them faster, with quality and according to the rules, the Minister emphasized.
There are financing in many different ways - there are at least six sources in the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works. Efforts, ideas and projects are needed. With joint efforts we can achieve more results in regional development, said the Minister.
Komitova stressed that transport infrastructure is important, but not everything. It is accompanied by industrial development, small and medium enterprises, built-up projects, social infrastructure, schools, healthcare and others.
Northern Bulgaria has lagged behind in terms of design and construction, said Deputy Minister Ivan Shishkov. He added that the object of greatest attention is the Hemus highway. The first three sections are under construction - from Boaza to the junction with the road Pleven - Lovech, which have not been stopped. We hope they will be implemented within the highway, said the regional deputy minister.
The projects for detailed development plans in the next three sections - near Veliko Tarnovo - were lagging behind, and this delayed the connection Ruse - Veliko Tarnovo, Ivan Shishkov pointed out. For sections 4 and 5, there are government decisions to expropriate the necessary land. It is to be submitted for section 6. We want to prepare the opportunity for the next cabinet to start construction as quickly as possible and legally, as well as to be completed in the foreseeable future, he said.
A new design begins for lots 7 and 8, for which an unsuitable route has been selected. Extreme efforts of designers and state administration are needed to catch up, the Deputy Minister was categorical.
Shishkov commented that the situation is the same with regard to the road Vidin - Botevgrad. There is a problem with the detailed development plan of the section before Montana. His case is expected to be heard early next month. The problem for the section Montana - Vratsa will remain a problem, which is inappropriate and a new design is needed, he informed.
One of the most important corridors in the north-south direction is the future highway between Ruse and Veliko Tarnovo, whose construction is divided into three. PUP projects for the first two sections - Ruse - Byala and Byala's roadway will be submitted for approval to the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works probably next week, after which procedures will be carried out to expropriate the necessary land. This means that their construction will be able to begin in the middle of next year, said Ivan Shishkov. Currently, the Road Infrastructure Agency is preparing design documentation for a conceptual and technical design and a detailed urban plan for the third section - Byala - Veliko Tarnovo, the work on which is more backward, he added.
We believe that this corridor should end not at Veliko Tarnovo, but continue with the crossing of the Balkan Mountains and have the opportunity to connect with the highways "Trakia" and "Maritsa". We must propose as a priority for designing a route in this direction, so that there is a good connection of Northern and Southern Bulgaria in this part of the country, and it will probably pass through the Pass of the Republic. We believe that this route should be a priority of the next government, said the Deputy Minister.
The Black Sea Highway has started design and must also be built quickly to increase the connectivity between the two parts of the country, between the Danube and the Black Sea, said arch. Shishkov. However, he stressed that for the implementation of the priority sites it is necessary to prepare the necessary projects, otherwise we will find ourselves in a situation to build illegally.
Komitova also presented the course of the large plumbing projects that are being implemented in Bulgaria. In 15 districts, in which the services are provided by one operator each, projects worth nearly BGN 2 billion are being implemented. For another 6 districts, which are late with the consolidation, regional pre-investment studies are being developed, which will envisage the necessary investments. They will enter future investment projects in these areas.
Due to the lack of consolidation, the districts of Montana, Lovech and Razgrad in Northern Bulgaria cannot have access to European funding for water supply and sewerage infrastructure, Minister Komitova pointed out. We are holding meetings with municipalities from non-consolidated areas to convince them that they need to do so in order to have access to unlimited funding, she added.
The price of electricity has a very serious impact on the price of water, the regional minister commented. Therefore, a separate company is registered in Bulgarian Water and Sewerage Holding EAD to trade on the stock exchange. The aim is to reduce the price of electricity, which is included in the cost of water. We are working to reduce water losses and improve the management of these water companies, said arch. Komitova.
The Minister informed that 15 projects for improvement of water supply and sewerage infrastructure will be implemented with funds from the National Plan for Reconstruction and Sustainability. They will be for settlements with a population of between 2 thousand and 10 thousand people. A key condition for their implementation is the adoption of the Water and Sewerage Act, Violeta Komitova stressed. It includes a guaranteed amount of water for every Bulgarian citizen at a cost price of 3 cubic meters per person per month. The water used above this amount will be paid at a price from the business plan of the water supply and sewerage operators, she explained. With these projects in the water and sewerage sector we will reduce losses and improve the quality, and this will be in favor of regional development and citizens, said Minister Komitova. She clarified that this is still being discussed and therefore asked for the support of all mayors.
Deputy Minister Nina Stoimenova pointed out that the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works has the task to implement the largest program for the period 2021 - 2027 - for the development of the regions, which will be worth BGN 6.8 billion. Its first priority will be financed projects in the 10 largest urban municipalities in the country, and the second will cover the smaller 40. Eligible activities will be implemented under the current Operational Program "Growing Regions" 2014-2020. However, for the first time projects of micro, small and medium enterprises are also financed, announced the regional deputy minister. Local communities are the ones who must set priorities and activities in the regional strategies in order to achieve a better life for Bulgarian citizens, said Nina Stoimenova.
Quite logically, the representatives of the forum from Ruse inquired about the possibility of having a second bridge over the Danube in the city. Deputy Minister Stoimenova pointed out that the budget of the entire new Romania-Bulgaria cross-border cooperation program is 132m euros, and negotiations on the new 2021-2027 program are under way.