Hefty 2011 Donations for Bulgarian Police despite Private Sponsors Ban
The Bulgarian Interior Ministry had received in 2011 over BGN 12 M in donations, according to the institution's updated registry of sponsor contracts.
The Bulgarian "Trud" (Labor) daily reminds that for the first half of the year, official donations amounted to BGN 4.8 M. The Ministry's budget for 2011 was slightly over BGN 1 B.
The charts with sponsors take over 100 pagers.
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.
At 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, the "Sega" (Now) daily 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.
The check of "Trud" reveals a sharp increase of donations from municipalities starting in September. The largest donor is the BMV company, entirely owned by the Interior Ministry. The Finance Ministry is also among the leading sponsors. The most common donations are fuel, computers, consumables and office supplies.
The transfer of the building of a former sports school to the Fifth Police Precinct in the Black Sea city of Burgas is missing from the registry, "Trud" notes. The building was donated by Lukoil, but over the ban on private donations it was transferred to the City Hall and then to the police.
The Ministry points out that the registry does not list funds received through international projects and charity campaigns of the institution.
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