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Bulgarias Amended Concession Law Abolishes Public Tenders For Publicprivate Partnerships

Public-private partnerships would be awarded concession contracts without tender, according to the amendments to Bulgaria's Concession Act, passed at the first reading by Parliament, according to the draft put for public debate on the Government's website.

The private partners would be picked in a tender, but the contracts would be awarded directly, making it easier and faster to give out concessions on airports and ports, according to the legislature's transport committee, as quoted by Dnevnik daily on March 18.

Although it would speed up the process, it would also open a backdoor for corrupt practices, experts were quoted by the daily as saying.

Other changes reinforcing include a provision that the choice made by local or central authorities cannot be challenged in court, nor does the concession contract have to be published in the State Gazette. Feasibility studies would no longer have to carried out prior to awarding concessions, which would further speed up proceedings.

Another controversial amendment would allow the Cabinet to compensate the concessionaire firm if it has in any way disrupted the "economic balance" of the concession, which includes legislative changes that influence the management of the subject of the concession.

The same reasons could be used to extend or shorten the concession period. The standard concession period is also increased by five years to 40 for highways, ports and airports. Concessions for beaches are extended by the same period, to a total of 20 years, but will be carried out by the regional development ministry, rather than local authorities.