Parliament Passes New People with Disabilities Act
114 POLITICS - PARLIAMENT - NEW DISABLED PERSONS LAW
New People with
Sofia, December 5 (BTA) - Bulgaria's Parliament Wednesday passed conclusively a new People with Disabilities Act.
A major new element of the law is an individual approach and a comprehensive individual assessment of disabled people's needs, which will be made by a specialized department of the Social Assistance Directorates at the Agency for Social Assistance (ASA) according to a methodology developed on a proposal by the Minister of Labour and Social Policy. The assessment will be based on a self-assessment by the person with disabilities about difficulties at home and outside the home, the disability/health status, the degree of the person's impeded functioning, the degree of the person's social inclusion, the person's mobility in the social environment and difficulties outside the home. The ASA Executive Director has until March 31, 2019 to establish the specialized departments.
As from January 1, 2021, the ASA under the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy will be transformed into a state agency and will pass under the jurisdiction of the Council of Ministers.
A nine-member Monitoring Council will be formed to promote, protect and monitor implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Two representatives designated by the National Ombudsman, two by the Chairperson of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination (CPD), four by the organizations of and for people with disabilities, and one representative of the academic community designated by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences will sit on the Council. The administrations of the National Ombudsman and of the CPD will rotate over two years to administrate the operation of the Council. The Council will submit an annual activity report to Parliament.
A National Council for People with Disabilities, chaired by a deputy prime minister, will function with the Council of Ministers.
Employers with a staff ranging from 50 to 99 will be obliged to hire at least one permanently disabled person, and those with a staff of 100 and over will have to set aside 2 per cent of the average number of employees for such persons. The law makes provisions for exemptions from these obligations.
The Bulgarian National Television, the Bulgarian National Radio and the Bulgarian News Agency will have to provide information accessible to people with disabilities and coverage of stories related to disabled persons.
The Council of Ministers was given until March 31, 2019 to adopt Regulations for Application of the new law.
Labour and Social Policy Minister Bisser Petkov said that the new law guarantees disabled persons' rights and stipulates new forms of support. "For the first time, financial support for people with disabilities is pegged to the poverty line and the amount of the financial support is defined in the law itself," Petkov pointed out. He specified that 426 million leva are allocated on his Ministry's budget for 2019 for this monthly financial support, which is differentiated into five groups. By comparison, the expenditures on integration supplements in 2018 total 152 million leva, he said.
The Minister noted that the Monitoring Council, constituted by the new law, meets a requirement of the CRPD, which was ratified in 2004. Petkov is convinced that the adoption of the law, which supersedes the 2004 Integration of Persons with Disabilities Act, sets the beginning of a comprehensive reform of the policy for people with disabilities.
"The struggle is to change policies for people with disabilities, the hiring quotas, support for employment, accessible built environment, and financial support, which are laid down in this law," National Ombudsman Maya Manolova commented for her part. LI/LG