Bill on Establishing Single Anti-Corruption Unit in Bulgaria Fails to Pass 1st Reading

Politics » DOMESTIC | July 31, 2015, Friday // 14:29
Bulgaria: Bill on Establishing Single Anti-Corruption Unit in Bulgaria Fails to Pass 1st Reading Meglena Kuneva, Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister in charge of coordinating EU policies and institutional affairs, photo by BGNES

A bill proposing the establishment of a single National Office for Prevention of Corruption uniting all existing anti-corruption entities has failed to pass first reading in Bulgaria’s Parliament.

The bill expands the group of persons obliged to submit asset declarations and expands the range of circumstances to be included in the declarations, according to reports of the Bulgarian National Radio.

The bill envisages an obligation to submit an asset declaration one year after the dismissal in order for the authorities to be able to keep track of the person’s assets.

The bill paves toe way for initiating proceedings on the basis of a tip-off, anonymous tip-offs included, or a publication in the media.

Following two hours of debates on Friday, the bill failed to win the support of MPs and did not pass first reading.

Representatives of all parliamentary groups, except the Reformist Bloc, opposed the bill.

Meglena Kuneva, Deputy Prime Minister and author of the proposal, made clear that the National Office for Prevention of Corruption was meant to unite the Commission for Prevention and Ascertainment of Conflict of Interest, the National Audit Office unit in charge of receiving and checking asset declarations, and the Center for Prevention und Suppression of Corruption and Organized Crime (CPSCOC).

Kuneva argued that the new entity was directly related to judicial reform, adding that the reform could not be implemented without adequate anti-corruption legislation.

She assured that Bulgaria’s vote on the bill would be noticed by the European partners.

Speaking prior to the debate in Parliament, she predicted that a failure to move forward with the bill on Friday would trigger a very damaging report on Bulgaria of the European Commission under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism.

The bill was opposed by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and liberal party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), with both entities voicing their doubts about the independence of a potential single anti-corruption authority.

The opponents of the bill also expressed their concern about the opportunity to launch proceedings on the basis of anonymous tip-offs and the reduction of the fine for public officials who failed to submit conflict of interest declarations from BGN 5000 to BGN 1000.

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Tags: Meglena Kuneva, Deputy Prime Minister, anti-corruption, BORKOR, Commission for Prevention and Ascertainment of Conflict of Interest, conflict of interest, National Audit Office, Reformist Bloc, Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, DPS, Movement for Rights and Freedoms
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