- Borislav Ivanov
New infrastructure bill worth €6 billion proposed by Bulgarian cabinet
The newly elected ruling cabinet is preparing a wide-scale infrastructure program, which aims to revamp Bulgaria’s infrastructure, making it more interconnected with existing European infrastructure. The aim is to build 4 or 5 new bridges over the Danube, bore 3 new tunnels under the Balkan Mountains, and “a heap of other important projects”. The time span of the project is 4 years, and it is going to cost 6 billion euros.
The program is going to be integrated with previous projects, as old projects that are unfinished are going to be targeted, and only environmentally friendly and financially sound new projects are going to be undertaken.
Tunnels under the Haemus (Balkan) Mountains
The Minister of Transport, Nikolai Sǎbev, has announced that the government is aiming to construct 3 new tunnels under the Haemus mountain chain – “Shipka”, “Petrohan”, and an unnamed one to the East.
Bridges over the Danube
Five are the planned new bridges over the Danube, however, their locations have yet to be disclosed. The most likely locations are a second bridge near Russe, as well as a new bridge near Silistra, Svishtov, Tutrakan, and either Nikopol or Kozloduy. According to an analysis by the ruling coalition, if corruption is curbed, a single bridge is not going to cost more than 100 million euros. Assen Vassilev has noted that the program is going to be structured in such a way so that the bad practices from the previous government are going to be avoided.
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The rest of the projects
Hopefully, the rest of the allocated finances are going to be spent on finishing and revamping Bulgaria’s highways. If things go according to plan, the budget would be sufficient to finish highways “Struma” (from Sofia to Greece, through Blagoevgrad and Sandanski), Haemus (from Sofia to Varna), Europe (from Sofia to Serbia through Slivnitsa), Cherno More (from Burgas to Varna, connecting Trakia and Haemus), and Veliko Tǎrnovo-Ruse (connecting Veliko Tǎrnovo with Haemus, and Haemus with Ruse’s bridge over the Danube). If this is done and there are no glaring issues, this could greatly ease tourism and the transportation of goods in Bulgaria, which is going to have a great impact on the economy. Also, it would be advisable to build connective lines with existing highways and the new bridges over the Danube, as well as with the new tunnels under the Balkan Mountains.
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Benefits and criticism
This could significantly boost Bulgaria’s economy if the money is spent correctly and there are no overdrafts. It is a very important and necessary undertaking, which has to be implemented in a proper way.
However, there are areas, which need more urgent reforms and funding, such as the healthcare sector and the education sector. Reforms in these sectors are paramount to Bulgaria’s economic and cultural development. In addition to that, the cabinet’s estimation of 100 million euros per bridge seems very optimistic, as previous bridges have cost over 250 million euros. Even so, there is still going to be enough to execute this infrastructural project.