"Our priority, as a political leadership, is for the construction-investment process to pick up the pace it should have and get out of the "zeitness" and the timelessness of the last two years. This should be done as openly, honestly and lawfully as possible. We need a minimum of politics and a maximum of legality."
This was emphasized by the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Andrey Tsekov during today's meetings with representatives of the construction industry. The minister spoke with the management and members of the Chamber of Builders in Bulgaria, and later with the Bulgarian Branch Chamber "Roads".
Working groups with representatives of MRDPW, the Road Infrastructure Agency and the branch organizations will start working next week to resolve the accumulated problems in recent years, it became clear at the meetings. Several main issues will be considered as a priority: the way to lawfully resolve the cases with in-house contracts and find a mechanism for amending the Methodology for indexation of these contracts, preparing changes to the Law on Territorial Planning regarding the illegal construction of large infrastructure objects and drafting of standardized framework construction contracts.
The case with the completion of the "Struma" highway through the Kresnen Gorge was also touched upon at the meetings. The management program envisages construction of the project without loss of European funding and outside the scope of the Kresnen Gorge. We will work on such a solution. There are currently no disputes on the route along the eastern slope, it became clear during the meetings.
According to the Minister, it is high time to start the implementation of the National Program and the goals for infrastructure connectivity of the country by 2030. In this aspect, the branch organizations expressed their categorical support for the minister's vision.
During the talks today, Andrey Tsekov informed the branch representatives that BGN 1.2 billion have been earmarked for repair and road maintenance in the Road Infrastructure Agency's budget this year.
"The budget is equal to last year's, as the amount is based on what has actually been spent so far and what we consider realistic that will be awarded by the end of the year," emphasized Minister Tsekov. In addition to this amount, another BGN 1.2 billion is planned for basic repairs and new construction. These funds are included in the draft budget, which has been published for public discussion.
According to the regional minister, the investment program until the end of the year is significantly more ambitious compared to the first 5 months of 2023. "Until May 30, the implementation report shows about BGN 260 million disbursed funds for basic repairs and new construction. By the end of the year, another BGN 900 million is planned, calculated on the basis of a realistic schedule, a forecast for the implementation of existing objects, the conclusion of new contracts, which are at an advanced stage of conducting the awarding procedures," Tsekov pointed out. According to him, in order to implement this program, the backlog of cases must be resolved.
The minister said that he and his team were surprised to find that there are quite a few orders in the Road Infrastructure Agency that were announced in 2022, their bids were opened last summer, but at the moment they have not yet been closed. "The total estimated value of the delayed orders for basic repairs of the API is about BGN 700 million. Our intention is to complete these orders so that the contracts can be concluded within the current year," explained Andrey Tsekov.
All the contracts that have been concluded for major repairs and new construction have concluded agreements for indexation at the time of the official office, and the means for this indexation are provided for in the current draft budget.
"We have managed to open the doors for conversations with all branch organizations and our approach to work is to be as open as possible," emphasized the regional minister. Andrey Tsekov was adamant that the goal of the new management of the Ministry of Public Works and Transport is a partnership in finding solutions.