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Introduction of toll system in Bulgaria guarantees fairer billing model

Photo: архив

The new road toll system will start functioning on March 1 this year with lower tariffs negotiated recently by the Bulgarian cabinet and branch organizations in the transport sector. Until February 12, the toll tariffs were subject to public discussion. The amendments are expected to be made at the next sitting of the Bulgarian Council of Ministers. Then, they will be promulgated in the State Gazette, Associate Professor Georgi Balabanov, expert in the National Toll Administration told Radio Bulgaria and added:

The revenues from toll taxes in 2020 are estimated at EUR 225 million. This calculation was made before the toll tariffs were reduced and the scope of the toll system was narrowed. The analysis of the Bulgarian transport sector shows that each month between EUR 20 million and EUR 30 million will be collected from toll fees. In the beginning of January, the Bulgarian government and the branch organizations in the transport sector negotiated lower tariffs that will be valid for three months after the introduction of the toll system. Later, the authorities and the business will make an analysis of the revenues and if they find out that revenues fail to reach the target, they will negotiate new tariffs and revise the scope of the toll system. In general, by introducing the new toll system in Bulgaria, we want to launch a fairer billing model and make sure those who use the road infrastructure more often will pay more.

In Georgi Balabanov’s words, the total revenue from toll taxes and electronic vignettes is expected to amount to EUR 370 million in 2020. After the reduction of the scope of the toll system, it turned out that the use of second-class roads, which until now required vignette tax, will become completely free of charge as of March 1. We asked Associate Professor Balabanov whether some haulers would start using these roads, in order to avoid paying toll tariffs.

The second-class roads are excluded from the toll system after the latest reduction of its scope, indeed. However, in my view, the speed of service is the most important thing for the Bulgarian transport companies, because competition in this sector is severe. That is why I expect that they will continue driving on motorways and first-class roads.

In Georgi Balabanov’s words, we should not compare the toll tariffs in Bulgaria with tariffs in other European countries. To be able to make precise comparison, we must take into consideration the specific features of the model of infrastructure financing in each country. In countries with higher taxes, more money is allotted for construction and maintenance of road infrastructure. People often wonder why Germany introduced autobahn tolls only. However, we can neither compare the German economy with Bulgaria’s economy, nor tax revenues in Germany with tax revenues in our country. Bulgaria’s taxation policy aims to encourage business activities as much as possible.

The expert from the National Toll Administration contends that the whole sum collected from vignettes and toll tariffs will be spent on construction and maintenance of road infrastructure only. In Georgi Balabanov’s view, the traffic in transit will generate higher revenues after the introduction of the toll system next month. We also asked him were the fears for a drastic rise in the price of goods justified:

In my view, this is mere speculation. On one hand, the scope of the toll system was reduced nearly in half. On the other hand, the toll tariffs were cut by 40%. Let alone, there will be some Bulgarian districts, where toll fees will not be paid at all. Smolyan is one such district, where haulers will not pay tolls and bus companies will not pay vignettes to use the local road infrastructure, which consists entirely of second or lower class roads. That is why, no price increases are expected in this Bulgarian region. According to an analysis of the World Bank based on the previous higher tariffs, the price of some essentials is expected to see insignificant increase of 1% to 2%.

Join us again next week with the second part of the interview where foreign citizens and business can learn useful information about the new toll system in Bulgaria.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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