Draft for 11-fold Expansion of Bansko Ski Area – Gift for the Oligarchy and End of Rule of Law

The government of alleged former criminal – Prime Minister with the codename “Buddha” – is cooking a sinister crime against Bulgarian nature. Another favor, but possible the most blatant and brazen one for the thieving oligarchy, is underway. Instead of already being behind bars, “banksters” Tseko Minev and Ivaylo Mutafchiev, who drained their First Investment Bank (FIB), are receiving as a gift the entire Pirin National Park.

Bivol calls on anyone who aches at least a little about this shattered country to protest because these protests also affect the generations that will come after us.

The coalition of NGOs and civic groups “For the Nature in Bulgaria” said on March 18, 2015, in Sofia that the draft of the government to change the concession contract for the Bansko ski area is a legal absurdity, complete mockery of the legal foundations of the State and another gift for the oligarchy.

Environmentalists staged protests in ten towns and cities in the country that same evening in defense of “protected” areas, which include the Pirin National Park.

Instead of terminating the concession contract and seeking accountability from the concessionaire “Yulen” and from guilty officials for allowing to illegally exceed the concession area of 99,55 hectares to 165 hectares, State experts are proposing to the Council of Ministers to increase the concession area 11 times in order to legalize all violations. The concession covers only the area of the ski slope and the equipment, but now it is proposed to include the forest between them as well. As it is known, the concessionaire is connected to one of the largest Bulgarian banks. (This is FIB. See here how they are all connected – editor’s note)

The scandalous gift not only includes the legalization of the loot in the Pirin National Park. The most significant difference between this draft and the one that the previous government Plamen Oresharski did not sign, and that was later broken by the government of Boyko Borisov, is that the concessionaire-offender receives unlimited rights over the entire territory of the Bansko ski zone.

Article 2.1.4 of the draft allows an 11-fold increase of the concession area from 99,55 hectares to 1069,58 hectares. Thus, the concessionaire obtains the right to build not only one more cabin lift, but to build on the entire forest under the Todorka peak in the Pirin National Park. This opens the door for the construction in all Northern Pirin in view of the pressure of investors and municipalities to build new 333 km of ski tracks in the mountain.

Environmentalists point out that allowing new construction in the Bansko ski zone in the Pirin National Park is contrary to the prohibition of Article 21 of the Protected Areas Act. Furthermore, the change in the financial parameters of the concession is once again, as in previous instances, not justified by an economic analysis to reflect actual market conditions.

The draft decision of the Council of Ministers violates competition rules in Bulgaria and strengthens the monopoly positions of the concessionaire “Yulen” since it replaces the competition conditions in the concession from 2000.

Environmentalists say the scandal in this case is that the report of the interdepartmental working group at the Council of Ministers, which was used to write the draft decision for the Bansko ski area, is one extremely customized document.

Rather than analyzing the issues raised by a number of experts from the working group regarding the legality and the ownership of facilities in the Bansko Ski area, the report only imposes arguments which aim to conceal violations and accountability of those responsible and to mislead the government and the society that there are ambiguities and contradictions in the concession contract and in the law.

An example of this is the reference to the repealed Ordinance for Categorization of the Ski Slopes in order to justify their excessive expansion (up to three times higher than allowed by the Environment Ministry at the “Tomba” ski slope). At the same time, the working group failed to check why all ski slopes in the ski area were used without being categorized at all, which is a violation of the Tourism Act.

The Coalition “For the Nature in Bulgaria” calls on the government to do the following before deciding anything in respect to the Bansko ski area:

To investigate those issues and signals for violations of the concession noted by experts from the interdepartmental working group and environmental organizations;

To seek accountability from the guilty parties to ensure that violations will not recur in the future not only in Pirin, but also in other Bulgarian protected areas;

To terminate the concession contract if violations are confirmed;

To organize in accordance with the Rules of the Council of Ministers a public discussion of the report and the draft concession for the Bansko ski area;



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