Games the Forestry Act Continue

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Changes to the Law on Forests began to drop out of the agenda of the National Assembly. The legislation had to be voted in plenary this week, but for unknown reasons disappeared from the programme. The uncertainty of the creators of the the most controversial bill recently may have been exacerbated by the threat of the opposition that even if the texts get passed by Parliament, they will submit them for review to the Constitutional Court because they grossly violate the adoption procedures.

The project was returned to the Committee on Agriculture and Forestry last week (instead of being passed on second reading). According to insiders, this has happened, after the European Commission made some very targeted inquiries for texts in the law that could be construed as unauthorized state aid to private companies. So, realizing the danger of Brussels again starting to monitor Bulgaria over this case occasion, even honest lobbyists had second thoughts. Chairwoman of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture and Forestry Desislava Taneva explained the return of the project to the committee with the need of technical adjustments, but it turned out that this is not exactly the right explanation.

Of course one of the most controversial texts of the document is the one governing the construction of ski runs in the mountains which lacked the requirement for holding preliminary competitions, which now developers of the project plan to include.

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The group of the ruling GERB offers that the land is granted for use by auction, then the building right to be established for 30 years. Depending on whose property the forest is these auctions will be held respectively by the Council of Ministers – for state forests, the Minister of Agriculture – for private forests, and mayors – for municipal forests. Initial rates of tenders must not be lower than the cost of establishing the right to build it is said in the draft law. Actually, through the adjustments the parliamentary majority expands the possibility to build both in forests and in farmland. Unlike the green areas, however, the right to build on farmland will not be granted by tender.

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