Bulgarian Interior Ministry Taps New Source of Revenue

Politics » DOMESTIC | October 5, 2011, Wednesday // 16:24
Bulgaria: Bulgarian Interior Ministry Taps New Source of Revenue Bulgarian Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov has secured a new source of income for the Interior Ministry in the form of fees for security activity permits. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's Interior Ministry has opened its door to a new source of income one month after it stopped accepting donations from citizens and private companies.

All companies with their own security units, regardless of the size, will have to pay a one-off fee to the Interior Ministry to obtain a license.

If the firm has offices located in one district, it will be charged BGN 700, while if it has units on other territories, it will have to pay BGN 3000.

The tariffs were officially introduced in Tuesday's issue of the State Gazette.

The amendment will increase the expenses of all companies that have hired security guards for their offices, warehouses or production facilities.

According to data provided by the the police, the total number of these companies stands at 2000-3000.

Starting October 04, they have a one-year grace period to decide whether to pay the license fee to the Interior Ministry.

The step is expected to bring an estimated BGN 2-9 M to the Interior, depending on the number of companies and the number of offices which apply for a license.

The Interior Ministry's press office said Tuesday that the introduction of the new fee was necessitated solely by the amendments to the Private Security Business Act.

A check of Dnevnik daily, however, revealed that the amendments had been introduced by the Interior on the grounds that the private security companies had been placed at a disadvantage through the obligation to pay license fees.

To remedy the situation, the Interior Ministry suggested that all companies enjoying security services should pay for obtaining a license - a step that was met with the government's approval.

As of September 1, the Bulgarian Interior Ministry can no longer receive donations from private individuals and private companies.

The order of Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, signed on August 15th, however, has some exceptions – municipalities, State institutions and companies, international organizations and foreign countries can still make donations.

In July, The European Commission condemned the corrupt donation practice in its report on Bulgaria under the cooperation and verification mechanism, causing Prime Minister Borisov to pledge that the occurrence would be eradicated. Tsvetanov, however, specified that donations would be phased out gradually, rather than rooted out at once.

In the beginning of August, the European Commission Spokesperson Mark Gray, once again, condemned the practice of Bulgaria's Interior Ministry of accepting donations.

"Each donation to the Interior Ministry is unacceptable, be it money or any kind of material valuables", Gray told Bulgarian Sega daily on August 10.

Tsvetanov initially refused to admit that the practice was reprehensible, saying that the Interior had not entered into any commitments in exchange for the donations which were thank-you gifts for a job well-done.

On August 8th, Sega wrote that the Bulgarian Interior Ministry has set a new record of donations, collecting another BGN 9 M in the second quarter of 2011.

The new funds, received under the form of donations from the country and abroad, collected on the backdrop of a global crisis, bring the total amount for the first half of the year to BGN 15.5 M with BGN 6.5 M from the first quarter of 2011, Sega pointed out.

Deputy Interior Minister, Dimitar Georgiev, immediately countered that for the first half of 2011, the Ministry had received BGN 15 270 925 from EU funds, but the money has been listed as donations, assuring all donors are subject to careful and detailed checks and have to sign a declaration that they don't have a criminal record.

At the time, Tsvetanov, further stressed speculations surrounding donations to the police are just part of the smearing election campaign, saying some media "serve particular political and business interests."

It was reported meanwhile that the Interior Ministry was set to file a court claim against traffic police officer, Konstantin Ivanov, who revealed the umbrella policy of the institution towards traffic violations committed by its donors. Ivanov was recently forced to resign from his job with the Sofia Police Directorate.

In the aftermath of Tsvetanov's order, the Bulgarian Dnevnik daily reported that all mayors they were able to talk to declared full readiness to donate, but had no idea where the money would come from.

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Tags: Interior Minister, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, interior ministry, donations, security company, security guards, security services, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, European Commission, cooperation and verification mechanism

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