Bulgarian President Roumen Radev said on May 27 that he has vetoed amendments to the State Property Act meant to speed up expropriation of land for major infrastructure projects.
Radev said that he supported the goals of the amendments, namely speeding up construction of “nationally-significant” projects and encouraging investment in industrial sectors, but said that the bill risked achieving the opposite and slowing down such projects.
Specifically, he objected to the provision that envisions that the owners of expropriated properties larger than five hectares would not be compensated financially, but through property swops.
“The bill’s motives does not have any arguments why exactly properties with a total area of more than five hectares are targeted, which gives rise to doubts that this change serves specific interests,” the president said in a statement.
It was doubtful that property swops, as opposed to financial compensation, would speed up infrastructure projects because it included a lengthy valuation process.
Additionally, this breached the constitutional principle of equality under law, as owners of smaller properties would be treated differently (by being given financial compensation) without a justified reason.
Radev also objected to the law’s provision that extended expropriation to cover projects of national importance – a separate category from the national projects currently covered by law.
Projects of national importance could be designated as such by acts of Parliament or Government decisions, but the amendments did contain a list of criteria for such projects.
“Due to the lack of criteria, the field of application could affect many private properties without a guarantee that these projects were for common use in public interest,” Radev said.
This is the 15th time that Radev exercised his veto power since taking office in January 2017, with Parliament overturning the veto in all but one case, when the provision in question was withdrawn.