Bulgaria’s Government decided to allocate 1.35 billion leva, or about 690 million euro, for the construction of a 134.2km stretch of the Hemus Motorway in the north of the country, which links capital city Sofia to the Black Sea port of Varna.
The funds will come from the central budget for 2018 and will be transferred to the Regional Development Ministry, the Cabinet’s media office said in a statement on December 12.
Bulgaria has registered a Budget surplus of 2.84 billion leva in the first 10 months of the year, largely due to improved tax revenues. The Finance Ministry initially targeted a deficit of 1.1 billion leva for the year in the 2018 Budget Act, but now expects to end the year with a surplus of 591 million leva.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that the cash injection for Hemus Motorway would deliver on his party’s GERB electoral commitment to invest in the development of northern Bulgaria.
“You know that, years ago, for some reason or another, under a different administration, it was decided that Hemus would not be subject to EU funding, but we want to make the process irreversible so that no one can later say that there is no money,” Borissov said, as quoted by Bulgarian National Radio.
Bulgaria has built about 170km of the 420km planned for Hemus motorway, the bulk of it before joining the EU in 2007 – EU funds allocated to road construction over the past decade went mostly to the Trakia Motorway (which links Sofia to Bourgas) and Strouma Motorway (from Sofia to the Greek border.)
A total of 26km are currently under construction – 16km near Shoumen in eastern Bulgaria and 10km near Yablanitsa, about 100km north-west of Sofia.
The 134.2km stretch that would be built using the new funding would extend the section closer to Sofia and would reach all the way to the planned intersection with national road between Rousse and Veliko Turnovo, the Cabinet statement said.
(Photo of Hemus Motorway section under construction earlier this year: Bulgarian Road Infrastructure Agency)