Improving public investment efficiency and effectiveness has become a main priority for the Bulgarian Government. Prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bulgaria was already taking steps to increase public infrastructure investment both from national sources and co-financed by European Union (EU) funds.

The National Development Programme BULGARIA2030, adopted in early 2020, lined up the infrastructure investment priorities in transport connectivity, digital connectivity, circular and low-carbon infrastructure, amongst others. Over the course of 2020, the government pledged to invest a total value of EUR 1.95 billion in transport infrastructure through the Ministry of Transport and Communication’s Transport Connectivity 2021-2027 programme, adopted in 2020. Another important investment programme was the National Broadband Infrastructure Plan for Next Generation Access Connected Bulgaria, which aims to channel investments towards digital infrastructure in the country. These investments are complemented by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, financed by the Recovery and Resilience Facility from the European Union, which largely focuses on digital connectivity, transport connectivity, water and sanitation infrastructure and energy efficiency, with a sustainability dimension. In the area of transport, the plan includes a sizeable allocation (EUR 666 million) of decarbonisation measures such as introducing new electric rolling stock for sub-urban and inter-regional rail transport; the construction of a new section of the Sofia metro; sustainable urban mobility pilot scheme including the purchase of zero-emission public transport vehicles and electric vehicle charging infrastructure​ (European Commission, 2021[1])​. 

Bulgaria’s Recovery and Resilience Plan supports the digital transition with reforms and investments aimed at increasing the coverage of very high capacity networks across the country, including in rural and sparsely populated areas (EUR 270 million); enhancing the digital skills (EUR 319 million); improving the digitalisation of public administration and the provision of digital public services in key areas such as justice, postal services, health, employment and social protection (EUR 297 million); supporting the digitalisation of businesses (EUR 15.7 million), as well as of the transport (EUR 202.6 million) and energy sectors (EUR 75.7 million).

In light of these investments, this project’s purpose is to identify ways to improve public investment efficiency and effectiveness in Bulgaria. This includes supporting the country in its efforts to strengthen institutional and administrative capacity at the national level, to facilitate social inclusiveness, green and digital transitions, to effectively address the challenges identified in the country-specific recommendations and to implement EU legislation.

The report finds many good practices already exist across Bulgaria, which we encourage being applied more widely across Bulgaria’s public investment system. The report also highlights best-practice approaches from other European countries and beyond, which Bulgaria would benefit from adopting. By implementing the recommendations in this report, Bulgaria can ensure its public investment system is better placed to lift the wellbeing and prosperity of the Bulgarian people and shift towards a more green, digital and inclusive future.

The action was funded by the European Union via the Technical Support Instrument, and implemented by the OECD, in co-operation with the Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support of the European Commission. ​

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