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Ahmed Dogan, the notorious kingmaker in Bulgaria’s political underground, has surfaced as a legitimate owner of TPP Varna, which marks a milestone in the history of the country’s transition. Immediate questions arise – why now? Why this deal? And what does it entail for Bulgaria’s political landscape? I have been following the progress of the TPP Varna deal for a long time because it is a live edition of Bulgarian grand corruption and the capture of the state. Sooner or later, the “proxies” in the picture step aside and give way to the real owners. There are several kindred deals in the making at present – one of the most visible ones being the CEZ Bulgaria deal, involving front and backstage players, including well-known Bulgarian businessmen, famous
Since mid-August, the ritual of communicating the bad news of the imminent natural gas price hike has been in motion. It is now a matter of time before politicians and parties join the chorus and contribute to the drum beat. Energy being everyone’s domain, the chorus draws across government-opposition and party fault lines. Quite often the battle for domination and redistribution of power within the energy sector rages within the GERB and BSP parties – survival of the fittest rules in which the weakest link short-circuits and leaves the scene. The scenario in a nutshell is the hot potato – the responsibility for the gas price increase, which is expected to be in the range of 15%, will ultimately be attributed not to the main culprits – Gazprom
The Toll system – the new Grand Slam design. Part One If the main argument for setting up the toll system is the lack of adequate current control at the border crossings – where taxes are not collected and are kept low – and the government admits that it can’t handle the problem – this part of the border traffic control and tax collection could be conceded to public-private partnerships, without the need to invest big in a toll system throughout the country. Given the abundance of similar practices, it should be easy to hire an experienced operator. The Bulgarian media overflows with superfluous articles criticizing foreign concessionaires for the huge salaries of the companies’ managers and for gross overspending on operational costs. However, in most instances the
The debate was over before it ever began. The relevant legislation snuck through Parliament, which ultimately greenlighted the Toll System for Heavy Trucks, due initially in August 2019 onwards. One should note the revenue expectations level – a breathtaking 800 million leva – a 2.5 times increase over current funding for road maintenance. These days the prime minister really “nailed” the new figure of the expected revenues from the toll system at 1.5 billion leva. The more the PR needs, the higher the figure will go. All barriers before the Toll System have been removed, with the exception of the barrier of common sense. The system has never passed close public scrutiny, adequate information campaigns or in-depth cost-benefit and alternatives’ studies. I feel reasonably confident on