Archive for August, 2009


Sofia Morning News – Bulgaria’s PM, Boyko Borisov, vowed Wednesday that the new cabinet would hunt and prosecute the “Witches”.
The statement came as response to the Tuesday accusations on the part of his predecessor as Prime Minister and Socialist Party leader, Sergey Stanishev, that the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party was engaged in a mass witch-hunt at all levels.
According to Borisov, Stanishev himself has admitted that his ministers are witches, sucking blood by their numerous shady deals.
“There is a witch-hunter and witches. In Bulgarian folklore, witches are a symbol of the evil. They steal, deceive, spread intrigue,” Borisov said.
Borisov pointed out several examples such as the land swaps, the now infamous deal with the golden printers at the Interior Ministry and several, incredibly high by the Bulgarian measure, salaries of people close to the former government.
The PM revealed that the former Executive Director of “Information Services”, Ivo Nikolov, had an annual income of BGN 104,423 for 2008. His December and May salaries had been nearly BGN 14,000 while his average monthly salary had been between BGN 7,000 and 9,000.

Tsvetanka Popova, Head of Human Resources at the same company, has received an annual salary of BGN 70,000 with a monthly salary between BGN 7,000 and 11,000.

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Bulgaria to fight graft with tax, customs link –

August 7, 2009 1 comment

SOFIA, Aug 6 (Reuters) – Bulgaria said on Thursday it would link information systems between its tax and customs authorities in order to clamp down on the fraud and rampant corruption that is robbing the EU member state of billions of euros in revenues.

Finance Minister Simeon Djankov, who is also deputy prime minister, said Bulgaria was losing 2-3 billion levs ($1.5-$2.2 billion) a year from smuggling and tax fraud.

Bulgaria’s ruling GERB party won July parliamentary elections by promising to uproot rampant corruption and shield the emerging economy from the global economic crisis.

‘The link will help to boost tax collection and will limit the unfair competition of different smuggled goods, mainly fuels, alcohol, meat and vegetables,’ Djankov said.

‘It will also make Bulgaria more transparent,’ he told reporters.

Djankov said the move could boost tax collection by about 200 million levs by the end of this year, while customs income would increase by another 500 million levs.


The European Union member state, hard hit by the economic downturn, needs to plug a 2.5 billion lev gap in its finances to prevent its budget slipping into deficit.

To do so would put pressure on Bulgaria’s currency board regime and its currency peg to the euro.

On Wednesday, the new government announced spending cuts that it said would make up some 46 percent of the expected shortfall. The remaining part would be covered by generating additional revenues.

Djankov said the IT systems of the two state agencies could have been linked six years ago but a lack of political will prevented that from happening.

The finance minister on Thursday appointed Vanio Tanov, a former head of the country’s anti-organised crime unit, as the new chief director of the customs office.

The move is part of reforms aimed to rid Bulgaria of its reputation as the European Union’s most corrupt country and free up millions of euros in EU aid which Brussels froze to last year due to fraud and lack of results in fighting graft.

Bulgaria to fight graft with tax, customs link –

Darik Radio Bulgaria is fined because Madonna speaks English

Sofia Echo – Bulgaria’s Council for Electronic Media decided to slap Darik Radio with a hefty fine for airing a recorded Madonna invitation to her fans in Bulgaria, because in the invitation, the pop-star spoke English, Bulgarian daily 24 Chasa daily has reported.

According to chapter 12 article 1 of the Radio and Television Act, all advertisement in foreign languages are forbidden, and so the commission has ordered Darik Radio to pay a penalty, the amount of which is expected to be in the range of 2000 to 15000 leva. Should the radio station repeat the broadcast, the fine will be doubled.

The 10 second message from Madonna to her fans in Bulgaria said; “Hello Bulgaria, this is Madonna and I expect to see you at the August 29 show in Sofia in Vassil Levsli Stadium”.

A spokesperson for Sofia Music Enterprises, the Bulgarian organisers of Madonna’s concert, said “this is normal procedure and it is used in all countries. Any time Madonna has a concert in a country, she records a message for her fans, and it is always in English. There is no way that an exception will be made just for us.”

Konstantin Vulkov, programme manager of Darik Radio said the station “apologises that Madonna is not proficient in Bulgarian.”

Darik Radio will have to stop the offensive broadcast, unless Madonna brushes up on her Bulgarian.

Bulgaria Looks to Smuggling Combat to Patch up State Budget

Bulgaria’s new finance minister has pledged reforms to stop smuggling in a bid to patch up the state budget, which is in worse shape than described by the ousted administration.

“We are aiming for a balanced budget. To do that, we need about EUR 2.5 B either in extra revenue by stopping smuggling or in spending cuts,” Minister Simeon Djankov said in the Danube town of Russe on Friday.

The cabinet plans to cut 15% of all administrative costs starting next week to help save BGN 1.2 B this year. Plugging loopholes in excise tax collection and curbing contraband would help cover part of the remaining BGN 1.3 B, he said.

Earlier in the week Djankov, a former World Bank chief economist, took over personally the control of the revenues units in his department – the customs and tax services. The nationwide tour that he started in the town of Russe is part this commitment.

Djankov made it clear that his predecessors have benefited from smuggling by offering a political protection of the criminals.

“There were even days when the border barriers were thrown up for trucks with smuggled goods to come in,” Djankov said.

Estimates set losses from uncollected excise duties and fees at about BGN 1,2 B, which nearly equals the current deficit in the budget of about BGN 1,3 B.

Asked about a possible reduction in Value Added Tax (VAT), the minister said it can be lowered no earlier than in 2012.

“It is impossible to lower the tax in 2010 or 2011 since this is when we expect Bulgaria to start its recovery from the financial crisis,” Djankov said. “But once this happens, it will be a good idea.”