Bulgaria's Parliament Goes on Suprising 'Election Holiday'
Bulgarian lawmakers have surprisingly agreed to take a month-long break due to the presidential elections on November 06.
The unexpectedly lengthy vacation begins as early as Wednesday, October 12, and will continue until November 09.
Wednesday's decision means lawmakers are not to convene again until the latter date, starting after the last session was adjourned by acting Parliament Speaker Dimitar Glavchev. The move effectively blocks any legislative activity within this period as plenary halls (and votes) will not be held on bills, even though work of parliamentary committees will continue.
The proposal comes from Ataka, a nationalist party, which warns that parliamentary activity could be used in the election campaign.
Tsetska Tsacheva, who was elected Parliament Speaker in 2014, is running for president on the ticket of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov's GERB party, with Glavchev having to take over for the time of the campaign.
But the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) insisted Bulgaria was a parliamentary republic and the legislature could not stop work without a substantial reason.
"You are afraid of the opposition because awkward questions are asked here on governance," a BSP lawmaker said from the rostrum.
Under the initial proposal, which was also resisted by the BSP, the "election break" would have begun on October 26 and November 07, only covering the last days of the campaign.
The decision was approved overwhelmingly by a 93-29 majority, with 12 abstentions.
Under initial plans, lawmakers were to discuss several issues such as full digitalization of tax returns (with businesses submitting them only online from next year and natural persons starting in 2018).
The proposal also provides for a 1% (but not exceeding BGN 500) deduction of the tax base for people receiving all of their revenues through bank transactions and doing cashless payment for at least 80% of their expenses.
"Post-mortem" payment of taxes was also to be approved, with relatives of deceased taxpayers being in charge of taxes not withheld from the employee prior to the latter's death.
BSP leader Korneliya Ninova raised her concern that the break was obstructing work on the 2017 budget, which was currently being reviewed by parliamentary committee.
"Aren't they [embarrassed] before their people, they won't work, staying idle for a month and receiving salaries?" Dnevnik.bg quotes Ninova as asking.
She will try to collect enough signatures for a petition that allows for sessions to take place despite the approved holiday. If 48 signatures are gathered, a new session will have to be called within seven days.
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