BULGARIA GOVERNMENT RECEIVES EBRD SUPPORT FOR WATER REFORMS
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is to assist the Bulgarian government in the next planned stage of reforms to the water and waste sector.
The EBRD will provide consultancy support on structuring the relationship between in the key stakeholders and developing a model service contract between the Regional Water Companies (RWCs) and the local communities.
The overall objective of the assignment is to assist the Bulgarian Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works in developing the necessary regulatory framework and procedures to be applied to regulate the relationship between the newly established Operating Companies and the Water and Sewage Associations.
The Government of Bulgaria endorsed a Strategy for Water Supply and Sewerage Management and Development back in 2004. It identified main issues for the sector and presented a broad financing plan to address investment and rehabilitation needs.
The establishment of the independent State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (SEWRC) in 2006 was a strategic regulatory development. The Water Regulator was authorized to review and approve 5-year business plans, as submitted by the Regional Water Companies (RWCs), and to regulate tariffs.
The adoption of a new package of amendments to the existing Water Act was the next key step in reforming the water sector in Bulgaria.
The amendment to the Water Act introduced separation of the ownership of assets from the right to operate those assets. At present, the RWCs are owners and operators of the assets. Under the amended legislation the assets' ownership will be transferred to the Water and Sewage Associations (to be established) that will include representatives of the central and local governments.
The Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works will remain responsible for supervision of the sector, and would be in charge of development of required by-laws and approval of the restructuring programs of the state owned RWCs.
The envisaged new law will promote commercialization of the RWCs by making the water companies and operators accountable to the local authorities and the community for their performance.
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