Caretaker Cabinet's Priorities: Fair Elections, Audit of Previous Cabinet, EU Council Presidency

Caretaker Cabinet's Priorities: Fair Elections, Audit of Previous Cabinet, EU Council Presidency

Sofia, January 30 (BTA) - At the first meeting of the caretaker cabinet on Monday, Prime Minister Ognyan Gerdjikov urged maximum organization and mobilization during its short term in office.

Gerdjikov said: "I expect your work to give the public a sense of stability and calm. Let's live up to the standards of professionalism and expertise noted by analysts and politicians."

Having promised to uncover any abuse of office by his predecessors, the Prime Minister gave the ministers two weeks to come up with analyses of the state of their ministries and to propose ways to solve the problems. Special attention should be paid to public procurement, which is mentioned in the European Commission's latest report under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. Gerdjikov asked the ministers to take uncompromising action if they find out irregularities and violations, adding that he did not want all procedures cancelled.

Bulgaria's Presidency of the EU Council in 2018 is the next major priority. Deputy Prime Minister Denitsa Zlateva, who is in charge of the preparation of the EU Presidency, is accompanying President Rumen Radev on a visit to Brussels on Monday, said Gerdjikov, adding that he expects this official visit to give a strong impetus. He gave the ministers until February 10 to report on what has been accomplished so far.

The judicial reform is another high priority, said the Prime Minister."I expect the Justice Ministry to make proposals regarding the EC's recommendations. Since there is no parliament during our term, we cannot initiate legislation, so nothing revolutionary can be done, but steps can be taken in the right direction."

Continuity is the next priority, including stability and building on the successful absorption of EU funding, said Gerdjikov, who expects Deputy Prime Minister Malina Kroumova to draw up an analytical report on the implementation of the operational programmes.

Dialogue with the business community and the public is also a priority. An Election Board is needed to help with the organization of the elections, Gerdjikov said. He called for a return to normal dialogue in the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation. "We are open to meetings with the major sectoral organizations - such interaction is a must for successful government," he said.

Last but not least is the holding of fair and democratic elections, said Gerdjikov. "It is my great ambition to take a very resolute step against the dreadful phenomenon we witnessed in the last few years - shameful vote buying. I am not under the delusion that we will deal with this 100 per cent, but I want to see a very decisive step in this direction. We cannot be a European State if we go on like this - have vote buying instead of elections."

The Prime Minister said regional governors would be expected to cooperate. "If we find that they are not up to scratch, they will be replaced with people whom this cabinet can trust to act with the utmost integrity during the elections," he said.

The caretaker cabinet approved the Bulgarian position for the February 3 informal meeting of EU heads of State or government in Valletta, Malta, which will be attended by President Radev. The participants will address the external dimension of migration and a Declaration of Valletta is expected to be adopted.

Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Ilko Semerdjiev said his ministry would try to order vaccines for 2018 and 2019 to avoid a shortage as in previous years. He explained that some vaccines must be ordered between 24 and 36 months in advance.

Semerdjiev has launched a probe into the tender dossier for a contract for vaccines worth nearly 23 million leva (exclusive of VAT). The public procurement procedure was announced less than 48 hours before the new minister took over from Peter Moskov. Semerdjiev added that the vaccines under the contract resulting from this tender would be supplied for 2017.

Source: Sofia