Bulgarian Parliament Rejects Anti-Corruption Bill at First Reading
The Bulgarian Parliament rejected on Thursday the bill aimed at preventing corruption among high-level public officials at first reading with 101 MPs voting in favour, 38 voting against and 72 abstaining.
The two parties from the ruling coalition – GERB and the Reformist Bloc (RB) voted in favour, while the two parties supporting the coalition government – the Patriotic Front (PF) and Alternative for Bulgarian Revival (ABV) abstained.
The largest opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) voted against, while the second largest opposition party – the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) abstained, daily Dnevnik informs.
The bill has been proposed by Deputy Prime Minister Meglena Kuneva and is part of the government's anti-corruption strategy, which was adopted in the spring.
The bill foresaw the establishment of a new anti-corruption body uniting the Center for Prevention and Countering Corruption and Organized Crime (BORKOR) to the Council of Ministers, the Commission for Prevention and Ascertainment of Conflict of Interest and departments of the National Audit Office.
The government had already rejected the idea for the establishment of an independent investigative body, while the parliament demonstrated a similar lack of will to fight corruption.
At present, all of the authority on tackling corruption is concentrated in the hands of the Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov.
This became the case after an agreement placed the agents of the State Agency for National Security (DANS) and the officials of the Interior Ministry under the authority of the Chief Prosecutor.
A bill, which is rejected at first reading, can be tabled at the earliest three months after its rejection following considerable amendments.
Kuneva said that the bill and the likely consequences arising from it have scared a lot of MPs.
In her words, the situation will undergo a detailed assessment by RB and GERB.
She reminded that the bill had passed through four parliamentary committees and the preparatory works were carried out in detail and with goodwill.
Kuneva assured that the bill remains a cause of absolute priority for her.
The parliamentary vote on the bill was postponed on the last day before the summer recess of the MPs.
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