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Mayor of Sofia calls for support from lawmakers to reverse EU recovery funds cut

Mayor of Sofia calls for support from lawmakers to reverse EU recovery funds cut

With a quarter of Bulgaria’s population, Sofia is set to receive only 1/18th of the funding

On 27 July the mayor of Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, Yordanka Fandakova attacked the interim government over the reduced funding the city would receive in the revised EU Recovery Plan. She spoke out during her visit to the roadworks near the Divotino Monastery. The proposed plan is already in the National Assembly and is due for a vote, however, she appealed to all representatives from Sofia to stand up and do everything they can to secure the much-needed funding.

Preventing the large concentration of EU funding in the capital

The dispute is mainly between Mayor Fandakova and Deputy Prime Minister Atanas Pekanov and it started a month ago. Back then, the disputed funding concerned the expansion of the metro system.

Ultimately, though, the funding for the metro was not withdrawn since the city would not be able to finance the project on its own or through loans. This put Sofia in a position where if the additional funds were denied the expansion would not be built at all.

Now, the conversation has shifted towards a certain sum of around 125 million euros, intended for the redevelopment of part of the city’s sewer system. Deputy Prime Minister Pekanov explained that the new cut is because the government must not allow a large concentration of funding for Bulgaria’s most prosperous region and instead it should be used to strengthen other parts of the country.

His position is that the move is not about provoking a reaction from the capital, rather, it is intended to make the Recovery Plan more in line with the current policy of the European Union for investing in regional development.

Is the large concentration of EU funding even that large?

Mayor Fandakova defended her city, saying that these are large strategical infrastructure projects that no capital in the EU can finance by itself, rather, they are co-funded by the city’s budget, the national budget and the European Union.

According to the mayor, Pekanov thinks that the city is receiving an exorbitantly large amount of funds. Out of the 6.5 billion euros Bulgaria is set to receive, Sofia will get 180 million for the metro and 125 for the sewer system. Fandakova pointed out that every citizen can decide for themselves if this is an exorbitantly large amount.

She continued, explaining that Sofia has a vested interest in the growth of other cities as well, as development on the municipal level has an overall net benefit on the whole region. However, she pointed out that the capital provides 40% of the tax revenue of the entire country, as well as 50% of all the corporate tax and a quarter of the country’s population.

She continued: “This is why I think this dispute is unhealthy and unnecessary. The government and the citizens should be working together.”

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