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Sofia Mayor Demands More Money To Solve City Issues

Municipal police and a budget several times bigger than what it has now was what Sofia municipality needed to improve its traffic problems and finance general development, mayor Boiko Borissov told a business breakfast organised by American-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce on April 3.

Borissov was the first speaker at the meeting and he took no time to strongly word his disapproval of the way the Cabinet looked down on Sofia's problems, accusing Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev of avoiding meetings and delaying the creation of the promised municipal police for months.

According to Borissov, such a body would be able to fully control the illegally parked cars, as well as monitor whether drivers are respecting traffic rules, and thus prevent the city from heavy traffic jams.

Borissov was angry with Stanishev, whom he accused of cutting the city hall's funds, instead of rewarding it for the good job he said it does.

Sofia chief architect Petar Dikov followed with a presentation of the city development throughout the years, describing Sofia as the most dynamically developing city in Europe. According to Dikov, due to its geopolitical positioning and because of the investors’ certainty that “Sofia is well managed”, the city was "exceptionally attractive" for new investments.

However, the situation also created problems for the city authorities, as in Dikov’s opinion the limited financial resource is restricting the administration to carry out its duties in the best way possible. Now the city is trying to set a more successful co-operation with the neighboring municipalities as well, as this would help to cope with the demographic overload Sofia is facing and would also help other areas to develop.

In 2007 and 2008, the city focused on developing new projects, allocating 18 million leva to that end this year alone, “which would enable us to start massive construction activity in 2009,” Dikov said.

“Sofia municipality does not have a regulatory base for public private partnerships, for example, but the city is currently trying to create it,” he said.

“After two years of attempts for public-private partnerships, we reached a framework acceptable to all parties, and by the end of April 2008 will start auctions for many underground parking lots."

Two parkings will be build at the metro stations near Sheraton Hotel and in Lozenets district, one on Vuzrazhdane Square, one on Alexander Batenberg Square and one under Tsar Boris III Boulevard, which together will have a capacity of about 4000 parking places.

Another 20 smaller parking lots will be constructed on municipal land, but the auctions they will be put through will be easier, according to Dikov, as they will be completed only by bidding. Those auctions are also scheduled to start by the end of April, Dikov said.