Bulgarian Municipalities Want New Law Providing More Powers

Domestic | October 16, 2012, Tuesday // 17:44|  views

Minko Akimov, Chair of the Municipal Council in Troyan, presented Tuesday the new version of the Local Self-Governance and Local Administration Act. Photo by BGNES

A proposed new version of Bulgaria's Local Self-Governance and Local Administration Act envisages devolving more powers to municipalities and enhancing the contact of citizens with local authorities.

The bill was presented Tuesday at the 8th Annual Meeting of Bulgarian Local Authorities taking place in Plovdiv.

The proposed new version of the Act has been drafted by a working group of the National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria (NAMRB) and the details are still being ironed out, according to reports of dnevnik.bg

The bill is to be submitted for review by the Council of Ministers in spring.

Minko Akimov, Chair of the Municipal Council in Troyan, who presented the project to his colleagues, claimed that the existing Act was 21-years old and had grown outdated.

He insisted that there had to be a clear difference between the three branches of power in local governance – the citizens, the local bodies (the municipal council), and the local executive branch (the mayor and the administration).

Akimov pointed out that the current methods of establishing contact with citizens were highly inadequate and backed the creation of municipal councils on local policy on a territorial principle.

He argued that each town or city had to appoint its municipal mediator.

The Chair of the Municipal Council in Troyan said that the new law had to provide the opportunity to decide a number of matters via a local referendum, including the total number and the salary of municipal councilors, the merger of municipalities, etc.

Minko Akimov listed the spheres where the powers of municipalities had to be expanded, including maintenance of public order, public transport, protection against natural disasters, etc.

He argued that the different liabilities of the different local bodies were another problem, adding that the mayor carried administrative and criminal liability, while municipal councilors carried none.

Akimov urged municipalities to send proposals for the solution of the problem over the next few weeks.

He went on to say that the principles of government in Bulgaria had to be specified, adding that political parties had the habit of forgetting their election promises to municipalities all too easily.

Akimov said that after coming to power, the parties kept taking more and more powers, shifting responsibilities to local authorities but without allocating any resources for their implementation.

Lyuben Tatarski, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on Regional Development, suggested that the bill was hardly likely to come under review by the end of the GERB government's term in office, despite the ambitions of NAMRB.

He recommended a "revolutionary" project for a new Local Self-Governance and Local Administration Act, emphasizing that the existing one had been drafted a long time ago and that there were many other successful models of governance in Europe.

NAMRB President Todor Popov told dnevnik.bg that no fundamental changes to local self-governance legislation could be expected because of the complicated economic and political situation.

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Tags: local administration, local authorities, Local Self-Governance and Local Administration Act, National Association of Municipalities, NAMRB, central government, GERB government, Lyuben Tatarski, Todor Popov


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