Bulgarian Police Officers to Protest Wednesday against Spending Cuts
Some 20 000 police officers are taking to the streets of Bulgarian towns and cities on Wednesday over plans of the government to slash spending and reduce retirement compensations for Interior Ministry employees.
The decision was announced after a Tuesday meeting that brought together Sigurnost ("Security"), a union of police officers, Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, and Interior Minister Rumyana Bachvarova.
Goranov admitted Tuesday he had added a last-minute proposal to reduce Interior Ministry spending to a budget draft for next year which was approved by the Bulgarian government on Friday.
The proposed amendments include lowering retirement compensations. Currently a police officer has the right to a maximum compensation of 20 monthly wages upon retirement. The minister, however, suggests the number should be reduced to ten.
Galentin Grozev, who represents Sigurnost, quotes Goranov as asking him if police officers are only "motivated... by ten salaries."
"For us this is insulting and I won't even comment on it," he told the Bulgarian National Radio.
Neither Goranov nor Bachvarova have commented on the amendments so far. While the cabinet argues some of the money saved from retirement compensations will be earmarked for increased spending for those ministry employees who remain at work, unions retort that, with incessant amendment proposals over the past months, police officers have grown uncertain as to their ability to make plans for the future.
Valentin Popov, who heads the confederation of unions of law enforcement agencies, has warned the moves by Goranov will push police officers and employees of other agencies to leave en masse, with the number of resignation expected to reach a fourth of all employees.
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