Contracts for cleaning the Maritsa riverbed are being revised due to suspicions of impropriety

The legal team of the regional administration is looking for a legal basis for the termination of the four existing contracts for cleaning the Maritsa River outside Plovdiv. This was stated by Governor Yordan Ivanov at a press conference.

In his words, it is a supposedly gratuitous scheme, which, however, is on the verge of being bankrupt. An interdepartmental commission has already been formed with the Regional Inspectorate of Environmental Protection, the Basin Directorate and the Economic Police to review the contracts concluded over several years by various regional governors. Two of the contracts were signed in 2019, under Zdravko Dimitrov, one in July 2020, under Dani Kanazireva, and the last one in December last year, by Angel Stoev.

“All the contracts were concluded as “gratuitous”. The impression is created that a company is doing a service to the state – by cleaning the bed of the Maritsa River at its own expense. Let it be clear that this is not the case. Alongside the channel strengthening activities, the contractors are removing sediment. This is also the de facto way in which the State pays the companies surreptitiously – in law, the term is ‘consideration in kind’. It is disguised as ‘gratuitous removal of sediment’. That is – the state in practice “pays” for the performance of in-kind reinforcement works, but nobody knows the amount because there are no value bills for the cost of the materials seized. Provided that there is a form of payment by the State, be it in the form of aggregates, the manner in which these contracts are concluded is illegal. The statement in the contracts themselves that they were gratuitous is false. It is a lie. These contracts are remunerative – there is a consideration,” the governor stressed.

In addition to the fact that none of the companies has gone to a tender and it is not clear how and according to what criteria it was selected, and the contracts state that they are gratuitous. The Regional Governor described the procedure by which these contracts were concluded as illegal, as they were not gratuitous. The companies sign a contract for channel maintenance and reinforcement, in return for which they can remove aggregates.

“The big problem is that these contracts are quantitative, but they are not value contracts- there are no amounts in them. Nobody knows for a reinforced wall for ten leva, for example, how much sand is exported in exchange- whether it is for 2 leva or 100 leva. There is no control. Nobody knows how much the state has paid-10 thousand or 10 million in aggregates,” stressed Yordan Ivanov.

The regional governor outlined several questions that his team and an interdepartmental committee will seek answers to are the contracts really gratuitous, is it legal to sign them as “gratuitous” when in practice there is a form of payment, although not in money? “Or is it a scheme that is on the verge of being worthless? We will seek answers to other questions: how much does the work of cleaning the river bed cost, and what is the counter-profit to the supposedly gratis companies? How and by what criteria were they selected and why was there no open competition for the work? What is the control and whose responsibility is it?”, Yordan Ivanov enumerated the questions.

He added that his predecessor, Angel Stoev, had asked for additional design and costing when the fourth contract was signed.

The Interdepartmental Commission is to follow up on the contracts and draw up a valuation methodology and calculate the value of the works to the state and the value of the seized aggregates.

The signed contracts are for the cleaning and strengthening of different sized bank areas of the Maritsa riverbed near Parvomay, Stamboliyskiy, etc. The companies carrying out the activities are Agroika, Stroimash, Print Technologies 13.

“I refuse to sign anything on these contracts because I risk being involved in impunity. They will be terminated as soon as possible”, concluded Yordan Ivanov.