Bulgaria to fight graft with tax, customs link – Forbes.com

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 – Forbes.com

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