New Bulgarian Japan-Funded Container Port Terminal in Question

Business | June 29, 2010, Tuesday // 15:59|  views

The fate of the project for the construction of a new container terminal in Bulgaria’s Black Sea Port of Varna will be clear in August, announced Transport Minister Alexander Tsvetkov.

The project for the construction of the container terminal at Varna is funded through a loan of USD 226 M from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation. The loan has a seven-year grace period, and will go into repayment in 2015; its interest rate is 1.4%.

In the first half of 2010, however, the Bulgarian government has started to indicated that because of the effects of the economic crisis it wanted to reconsider the terms of the agreement by either downsizing the loan or terminating it whatsoever.

These statements by officials such as Deputy Transport Minister Ivaylo Mosovski have led to a visit to Bulgaria by experts from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation in early May.

Speaking in Varna on Tuesday, Bulgaria’s Transport Minister Alexander Tsvetkov announced that a new mission of the JBIC is expected in July in order to study the present situation in Bulgaria about the application of the loan terms.

Tsvetkov pointed out that the project for the new port container terminal in Varna has to be reconsidered because of the fate of a similar project in the other major Bulgarian Black Sea Port of Burgas. The brand new terminal there was constructed with an USD 188 M loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation, signed in 1998.

The terminal, however, was completed only in 2009 at a time when the formerly largest Bulgarian steel-maker Kremikovtzi located near Sofia, which previously accounted for over 50% of the turnover of the Burgas port, went bankrupt and is now set for liquidation. This left the new Burgas terminal almost empty and unused, while the state and the port authority are paying off the loan, a situation that even led to protests on part of the port employees.

“This is a very large and important infrastructure project which can be constructed with a loan. Its economic feasibility is to be discussed and either confirmed, or rejected,” Minister Tsvetkov said with respect to the planned Varna container terminal.

In his words, the present Bulgarian government also approached the Japan Bank for International Cooperation with a request to consider funding with a loan the rehabilitation and the expansion of the railway line between the Black Sea Port of Varna and the Danube River Port of Ruse; the Japanese, however, were “lukewarm” to this idea.

Tsvetkov did point out that the Bulgarian state budget could not afford to fund the improvement of the Varna-Ruse rail line, and it was also not eligible for funding from the EU funds under the current financial framework expiring in 2013.

The Transport Minister said the government did not plan to sell the Varna ferry complex; he announced that the complex will be renovated by the end of the year, and its ownership will be transferred from the Bulgarian state railways BDZ to the Port Varna or to the Port Infrastructure Agency.

Tsvetkov denied any claims that there is tension in the administration of Port Varna because of the fact that its Director, Danail Papazov, has submitted his resignation.

“I have not asked Papazov for his resignation, he deposited it on his own. That is why I think there is no tension among the port employees,” the Minister stated.

We need your support so can keep delivering news and information about Bulgaria! Thank you!

Tags: Port Varna, Port Burgas, Japan, Alexander Tsvetkov, Transport Minister, Danail Papazov, JICA, JBIC, terminal, Ruse, Port Ruse, railways, Japan Bank for International Cooperation


» Related Articles: