site.btaUPDATED Caretaker PM Donev: Those 10 Months Were Exhausting
“Those were exhausting ten months,” caretaker Prime Minister Galab Donev said as he started to present a report on the results of his cabinet's work on Monday. The report is presented at an extraordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers, “maybe some 24 hours remaining to the end of our tenure”, to use Donev’s words. He started off by saying that his government “took decision-making where it should be: in Bulgaria”.
He also pointed out that his is the first government since 2009 reporting its performance at the end of its tenure.
Donev said: “In the past days, everybody speaks of the State. Think of the people – they are the State. Don’t crush people – this pattern of relations does not work. Political arrogance is out of fashion and useless.”
He said that the report follows the key priorities of his government: to organize and hold fair and free elections for National Assembly; to improve the purchasing power of Bulgarian people; to fight against impoverishment; to support the socially vulnerable; to encourage investments, among others. He also added the issues of security, including protecting the national border from illegal crossings, as well as countering crime and corruption.
"The parliamentary elections held in April this year were held peacefully and transparently, in accordance with the law. No significant violations were found. Citizens freely expressed their political preferences. The Ministry of the Interior successfully tackled vote-buying. During the campaign and on election day, a total of 813 alerts were received for violations of electoral legislation and of citizens' electoral rights," Donev said. He added that 151 criminal proceedings were initiated and the results of the actions confirmed the role of prevention.
Here is what else the Prime Minister said:
The immediate and most difficult task was to plan and take measures to control the prices of staple foods.
The first step was to shed light on pricing, for which an information system for monitoring the prices of staple foods was developed and implemented. Control of the retail network by the Commission for Consumer Protection and the State Commission for Commodity Exchanges and Wholesale Markets was strengthened. Measures were taken to ensure food security and safety. Coordinated efforts by the government from a number of ministries and departments are beginning to bear fruit.
From September 2022 to March 2023, the rate of inflation fell by 4.7 percentage points, and it is forecast to be below 10% in May. Producer price inflation has slowed significantly as February 2023 showed the smallest increase in producer prices in two years. In a context of general high inflation, support for the most vulnerable groups matters a lot. Nearly 1.2 million pensioners received an Easter supplement of 70 BGN from a budget of BGN 72 million available for this purpose.
Significant progress was made in investments and energy. The first quarter of 2023 saw a 15-fold increase in investments compared to the same period of 2022. In the same period, the number of Class A certificates issued to investors, quadrupled.
A memorandum was signed for the development of the oil pipeline project between Bulgaria and Greece and preparations are made to set up a joint Bulgarian-Greek venture to manage the project. A memorandum was signed on the Bulgarian initiative Solidarity Ring for cooperation between the gas transmission system operators from Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia. The initiative provides an real opportunity to diversify and increase the security of natural gas supply to Central, Eastern and Southern Europe. Most importantly, this natural gas supply route of up to 5 billion cu m per year can be used starting today thanks to the well-developed gas infrastructure.
Additional quantities of natural gas have been secured from Azerbaijan, which are essential for achieving the overall objective of diversifying the sources and routes of natural gas supply to Europe, as well as for ensuring our energy security.
The project for a new Bulgaria-Serbia interconnector has been launched. Technical work has started on the construction of the gas interconnector on Bulgarian territory.
Initiatives and measures to build new nuclear capacity at the Kozloduy and Belene sites have been implemented.
In the area of security, measures have been taken to limit the consequences of increased migration pressure and to provide the necessary equipment for border control. Migration pressure since the beginning of the year is 30% higher than in the same period last year, and some 31,000 attempts to cross the Bulgarian border illegally have been prevented.
The Government is making constant efforts to counter crime, protect public order, prevent natural disasters.
During the period, the total number of registered crimes decreased compared to the same period of 2022. An increase in the overall clear-up rate was achieved, including for homicide and theft.
The implementation of the Recovery and Resilience Plan was a top priority in the area of European integration. Nine bills that are part of the Plan were approved and submitted to the National Assembly. A new bill on combating corruption among senior public officials and a package of amendments to the Criminal Code and the Judicial Power Act providing for an effective mechanism for prosecuting the Prosecutor General and his deputies were approved and submitted to the National Assembly.
The establishment of an air ambulance service has begun in earnest.
Schengen accession was one of the Government's priorities. Active political dialogue with the EC, the Swedish Presidency and Member States continued with a view to a positive decision at the end of this year. A pilot project for an accelerated asylum and return procedure has been launched and the proposal to reinforce the Bulgarian-Turkish border has received universal support.
Intensive talks continued with the Netherlands and a formula has been found for it to review the achievements of Bulgaria in the area of the rule of law. This gives us confidence that upon adoption of the relevant legislation, the Dutch objections to [the Schengen accession of] Bulgaria would be lifted.
Preparations continued for Bulgaria's accession to the euro area.