Bulgaria's 52 Words for a Bonus
Bulgaria has been in the grip of a bonus hysteria for some two weeks.
The bonus payment pocketed by Neli Nehseva, the already ex Bulgarian National Health Insurance Fund (NZOK) Director, triggered a Mexican wave of bonus revelations and accusations.
To be on the safe side, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov ordered a special bank account opened at the Bulgarian National Bank and instructed all public officials who had received extra money to hand them back.
One day after the bonus repayment deadline expired, Borisov explained that he had resorted to the "populist" step under pressure from a populist-minded population.
The Prime Minister stressed that the additional payments had been awarded in compliance with the law but in breach of morality.
He explained the bonus epidemic with the fact that he had banned board participation fees.
"Technically speaking, my ministers and deputy ministers...they cheated, this is the exact word...Because I told them – you shall not receive fees from board participation, we promised that to the people. So they did not. But it turned out that there are 52 terms that you can use to justify the money you have taken," Borisov noted, listing options like "bonus", "fee", "additional financial incentives", etc.
Borisov's 52 words for a bonus payment reminds of the alleged 400 Inuit words for snow.
Despite the fact that the linguistic myth about the Inuit was debunked, there can be no doubt that snow is important to this group of people.
In Bulgaria's case, no myth is likely to get debunked.
Borisov's claim is highly likely to be genuine.
If verified, the existence of the 52 words will not mean that we find bonuses important.
It will mean that we find evasion important, and by this I mean legally enshrined evasion.
It will confirm that we are used to living in a two-track, two-speed, two-faced, double-standard reality.
A commercial popular in the not so distant past had it that "some things have double meanings".
Welcome to Bulgaria, then, the land where all things have double meanings – one for the common people, and one for the go-getters.