Press Today – June 9
The government will pour another 1,000 million leva in healthcare
Prime Minister Boyko Borissov's generous promises to increase all pensions have come down to an adjustment of the minimum pensions and survivor benefits, writes "Sega". The proposal has not been finalized yet. Borissov broke the news, but it later emerged that Finance Minister Simeon Djankov needs another ten days to prepare estimates. A day earlier, Djankov said that a flat supplement would be paid to all pensioners, as a rated one was discrimination, the daily recalls.
The government's budgetary programme is based on unrealistic projections of economic growth and vague fiscal intentions. Ill-conceived pension reform; energy inefficient economy and dwellings; poor performing, untransparent, and corrupt public sector; competition stifling monopolies and poverty five times over the EU average. These are some of the findings contained in the recommendations the European Commission has given Bulgaria regarding its national reform programme, quotes "Troud". The recommendations come under the European semester, a new economic policy coordination procedure.
Bulgaria's economy fared better in the first quarter of 2011 compared with initially released express estimates, follows up "Troud". GDP grew 3.4 per cent between January and March year-on-year. A month before, the National Statistical Institute projected a 2.5 per cent growth.
"Troud" writes that under a bill, approved by the government, to amend the Foreign Exchange Act cash exceeding 25,000 leva or its equivalent in a foreign currency should be declared to the customs authorities when being carried from Bulgaria to an EU or non-EU country.
HOME AFFAIRS, JUSTICE
"Monitor" writes that with an overwhelming majority (487-77, with 29 abstentions) the European Parliament Wednesday adopted a resolution which supports the entry of Bulgaria and Romania in the Schengen area. Most MEPs said that the two countries had fulfilled all legal and technical requirements and have put in place sound controls over their land, sea and air borders.
Interviewed by "Monitor", MEP Andrei Kovachev (EPP/GERB) says that the Schengen area will become more secure with Bulgaria's and Romania's entry. Kovachev says that he expects that the two countries's entry will be approved by the end of the year, although opposition by countries such as Denmark and the Netherlands causes concerns. The two countries have invested a lot of money in the latest equipment and their border controls are much tighter than those of other EU countries, Kovachev says.
For the first time members of the Supreme Judicial Council have resigned over disagreement with the flawed and unprincipled personnel policies of the judicial system, writes "Sega". Galina Zaharova and Kapka Kostova of the Council's judges' quota refused to be part of "the government of the third power", a week after Vladimira Yaneva was elected head of the Sofia City Court. Yaneva's appointment gave rise to controversy because of her close relation with Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov and unconvincing work record. The resignations will be voted by the Council on Thursday.
In a "24 Chassa" interview, Justice Minister Margarita Popova says that the resignations of Zaharova and Kostova are a protest against the personnel policy of the Supreme Judicial Council and a confirmation of her words of September 2009 that lack of transparency and will to keep the judicial system independent undermine the governance stability. In her words, the newly appointed Sofia City Court President is taking over an organization riddled with problems. "It is in the interest of the citizens and the judicial system if Yaneva succeeds," says the Justice Minister. She adds that the service record is a very important component, but general magistrate experience could also be of use. However, the conduct of the SJC during the vote has made the future work of the Court President very difficult. The Council has demonstrated yet again poor leadership and that is dangerously distanced from the magistrates' community, says Popova.
In a "24 Chassa" interview, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov says that under the Kostov cabinet (1997-2001), Ivan The Doctor Todorov had set up his contraband network and mafia bosses Georgi Iliev and Iliya Pavlov had legalized their business. Tsvetanov also says that the Marguin brothers had been arrested under the three-party coalition government (2005-2009) because the then interior minister Roumen Petkov made a commitment to another underground boss, Mladen Mihalev. Atanas Atanassov, intelligence head under Kostov, reported first to the scene of the unsuccessful attempt on the life of Poli Pantev because Pantev had been under Atanassov's custody. The Interior Minister also says that the special services were aware of what was going on, but they were afraid to air it, as there was no political will to fight organized crime.
THE HOME SCENE
"Novinar" frontpages a remark by Prime Minister Boyko Borissov: "I will run for president at the next elections, after I see out my first term of office and the first half of my second."
"Troud" quotes Alpha Research figures showing that two thirds of Bulgarians want Boyko Borissov as prime minister and are against his bid for the presidency. Twenty-eight per cent of respondents are of the opposite opinion, and 60 per cent say that a presidential run would be an escape from his commitments as prime minister. The nationally representative survey was conducted among 1,020 people between May 27 and June 2, 2011, the newspaper says.
"Dnevnik" quotes the Prime Minister as saying that he is not concerned with the survey results. It shows that half-way through, approval for Borissov's government is slipping to as little as 19 per cent. Most critical of him are people with low incomes, the elderly and the rural population. Despite the highways, all the ribbon cutting and ground breaking, the Prime Minister cannot command approval for the cabinet, social scientists say.
"Douma" writes that the opposition hopes that the government will fall by the end of the current parliamentary session. The Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms threatened to enter at least two no-confidence motions before the August recess. The two parties agreed that the first no-confidence vote will be on sectoral policy.
The friendship between GERB and Ataka has soured, writes "Sega". The chairmanship of the parliamentary anti-mafia committee put an end to their alliance. Nationalist leader Volen Siderov' nomination was turned down by the majority. Siderov's immediate response was to state his readiness to back any no-confidence vote in the government. Ataka joined the anti-government coalition consisting of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and the Blue Coalition a day later.
According to the nationalist paper "Ataka", Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov "has set GERB against the Ataka party". At a GERB party meeting on Tuesday, Tsvetanov demanded that Ataka MPs be prevented from taking up the seats on parliamentary committees vacated after the walkout of three Ataka MPs.
In a "Troud" interview, Agriculture and Foods Minister Miroslav Naydenov says that the Food Safety Agency will carry out large-scale checks at establishments offering all-inclusive packages. The campaign has been prompted by a widely spread practices for hotel owners to mislead tourists. In his words, this is an issue directly related to Bulgaria's image. The Minister also says that Bulgarian cucumber producers will receive compensation for the losses suffered due to the E.coli outbreak in Germany. Naydenov said that producers will likely be compensated in full.
The government will pour another 1,000 million leva in healthcare, highlights "Klassa". Prime Minister Boyko Borissov said that municipal hospitals will receive 200 million leva in August. The Health Ministry received 65 million leva under the Operational Programme for Regional Development to upgrade seven hospitals.