Subsidies for Bulgarian Political Parties - Feast in Times of Plague
Post-election Bulgaria seems to be in a state of a total shutdown topped by budget 2012 - an even more meatless pizza then in 2011, with a bitter aftertaste.
Closure is looming for the State Reserve, the Bulgarian State Railways BDZ are facing bankruptcy, Culture Minister, Vezhdi Rashidov threatens to resign because budget 2012 will make him remain in history as the person who had to close Bulgarian theaters, and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (BAS) is on the brink of extinction over severe budget cuts.
Meanwhile, major political parties seem to have escaped the crisis. Estimates of the National Audit Office (NAO), show that renegade MPs fetched over BGN 1.1 M in additional State subsidies for the center-right ruling party GERB since the beginning of its term in office in the summer of 2009.
The audit was assigned to NAO after heated debates in the Parliament and strong opposition from GERB.
According to the Political Parties Act, all formations which get over 1% of the vote in general elections, receive BGN 12 for each ballot cast, meaning GERB gets in the vicinity of BGN 20 M a year with the total in subsidies reaching about BGN 50 M. The money is meant mostly to be used by the parties to develop of their own expert potential instead of hiring experts and PR agencies from outside.
A check of the Bulgarian Capital weekly shows that in 2010, the funds went to salaries, PR, rent, consumables and trips abroad.
In 2011, GERB paid salaries to about 270 individuals, renovated and remodeled its headquarters inside the National Palace of Culture in downtown Sofia where it obtained an additional floor, and bought top-of-the-line iPads to all its 117 Members of the Parliament.
Against the BGN 50 M in parties' subsidies stands the BGN 54 M 2012 budget for the oldest Bulgarian institution - the Academy of Sciences founded in 1869, with 2900 researchers and scientists total (staff of 6 338), where 1 400 were already laid off.
BAS needs BGN 94 M to survive. Maybe leading world expert, Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, has some untapped resources he needs to take a look at?