Amendments to the Roads Act, adopted at second reading by parliament envisage the transfer of the National Agency "Road Infrastructure" to the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works
September 9, 2009
The National Assembly adopted at the sitting on September 9, 2009 amendments to the Roads Act providing for the National Agency "Road Infrastructure" to switch to the management of the Minister of Regional Development and Public Works. So far, it was the Council of Ministers. The amendments approve a name change deleting the word “national” in the title, which becomes simply Agency "Road Infrastructure". The budget of the agency will be part of the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Work’s budget, something deemed to improve the oversight of its spending. The two-tier system of management / Supervisory Board and Executive Director with two Deputies / will be replaced with a single Board of Directors, with a President at the top. Appropriations from the budget of the former agency will be transferred to the budget of the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works.
The Board of Directors to be able to propose to the Minister of Regional Development changes in the list of republican roads, was yet another amendment voted by the lawmakers. The Board is authorized to dispose and transact, or rent out the state property - land or assets - managed by the agency. The Department of the Agency, which was dealing up to the present with the collection of road fees and granting permits, will now be transferred and become part of the Customs Agency.
The parliament approved the 2008 Annual report on the activities of the Supreme Administrative Court and administrative law enforcement. The Supreme Administrative Court reported an increase in the volume of cases filed and completed during 2008, compared to previous years. Last year SAC has received 16 402 cases, while in 2007 their number was 13 659 and in 2006 - 12 914. Completed cases for 2008 are 15 095. In 2007 they were 13 777 and in 2006 - 13 604. From a total of 15 095 completed cases, 632 or 4 percent were completed within one month, in 2466 or 16 percent - within three months, and 12 017 / 80 percent / - in a period exceeding three months.
According to the report, the majority of cases run out for a period exceeding three months from their filing is due to the excessive workload of the court.As other causes for the slower closing of the cases the report underlines the practice of deferment due to irregularities in the summon of the parties, illness of a party, and delays in providing the court with the expert opinions. The SAC reports better results in the 2008 quality of court decisions. In 14 751 out of 15 095 cases or 98 percent, the court determined within one month. In 275 cases - 1.8 per cent within one to three months and in 69 cases were drawn over three months.
SAC has deliberated on and resolved 958 "electoral matters", after the elections for local government. In 24 locations the elections were annulled, and the vote for Mayors was declared invalid in 20 locations. In four places the elections for municipal councilors were annulled. The SAC chairman Konstantin Pentchev noted that the issue concerning the role of the court in the electoral process and whether it should supersede the election administration should be resolved in the Electoral Code, which is to be prepared and adopted at the near future.
The number of judges working in the SAC in 2008 was 77. The average workload of a judge shows 196 completed cases per year. Many judges have completed over 200 cases, and some - 300 cases, says the report. The document points that the heavy workload has an impact both on the speed of completing and on the quality of drafting the court rulings. The report states that this problem can be resolved permanently with legislative changes and temporarily - by the redistribution of cases and partially unloading the busiest wards.
The document recalls that 2008 was the first full year of work of the Regional administrative courts, which were established as of March 1, 2007 by the Administrative Procedures Code. In 2008, the administrative courts have received 41 508 cases. Most of the cases were filed at the Sofia City Administrative Court- 10 149 cases. Next are the administrative courts in Varna - 4434 cases, in Plovdiv - 3035 cases, in Burgas - 2 621 cases. During the year, closed were 32 451 cases, which is 78 percent of those entered.
The Legal Affairs Committee in the parliament recommended the elaboration of uniform criteria for the statistical data presentation, stressing that while reporting statistical data, the report should focus on its analysis and provide conclusions. It is recommended that the findings of the problems identified in the work of the Supreme and the Regional Administrative Courts be accompanied by a description of the measures taken to overcome them and the achieved concrete results.
MPs recommend to the Supreme Judicial Council to clarify the criteria that give rise to doubts about the objectivity in the appointment of magistrates, and to make efforts aimed at their objective work evaluation. The floor discussion of the 2008 Annual SJC report and the report on the activities of the Inspectorate to it went together and were approved by parliament with the written recommendations of the parliamentary Legal Affairs Committee. Present in the plenary hall were Anelia Mingova, representing the SJC, Konstantin Pentchev - the Supreme Administrative Court and Anna Karaivanova, Chief Inspector at the SJC Inspectorate.
The Inspectorate has ceased the Supreme Cassation Court and the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office with three signals, in which there was evidence of crimes committed by magistrates. The report says that one criminal proceeding against a magistrate was initiated. The document notes that the SJC Inspectorate had reacted, at several occasions in 2008, on its own, triggered by actions or statements of government or judicial officials or organs and organizations and publications in the press, critical towards the Judiciary.
The SJC reports that in 2008, the Inspectorate has carried out 16 incidental inspections. The Chief Inspector has ordered the check up of all the court cases and criminal proceedings related to irregularities in the SAPARD program. The total number of signals received in SJCI last year was 1644. Of these, 1534 were decided, 110 are still undergoing preliminary study. Signals were submitted by the Administration of the President, the Permanent Representation of the European Commission in Bulgaria and by representatives of the European Parliament.