site.btaLack of a Quorum in Economic Policy Committee Hinders Insurance Code Amendments
The Parliamentary Economic Policy and Innovation Committee failed to hold a meeting on Monday for the second time due to lack of a quorum. The MPs were to debate and vote on second reading amendments to the Insurance Code submitted by the Council to Ministers on December 12, 2022.
MPs of Continue the Change and Democratic Bulgaria and two GERB-UDF members of the Committee turned up on time.
The MPs of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Vazrazhdane, Bulgarian Rise and the rest of the Committee members of GERB sabotaged the meeting. As a result, the Insurance Code cannot be amended by this Parliament, which dissolves on February 3. President Rumen Radev scheduled general elections on April 2.
The EU institutions want Bulgaria to settle part of the outstanding claims to the Green Card System, which ensures the compensation of victims of accidents caused by foreign motorists by guaranteeing sufficient third party liability in 50 countries. In 2021, the outstanding claims to Bulgarian insurers for damage caused by Bulgarian-registered vehicles abroad were about EUR 8 or 9 million, including interest.
On Monday, a working group was held as proposed by Committee Chairman Martin Dimitrov, which heard Finance Minister Rositza Velkova once again as it did last Friday.
"Unless the Insurance Code amendments are adopted, Bulgaria may have problems with its entry in the euro area," Velkova said. On February 13, Bulgaria must report to the European Commission the implementation of ERM post-commitments, which is a condition for considering Sofia's bid for entry, she added.
Velkova also said that if Parliament amends the Insurance Code, high inflation will remain the only hurdle to Bulgaria's entry in the euro area, but it is a negotiable issue.
The Finance Ministry proposes that claims originating abroad be settled automatically, regardless of whether there are documents on the damage and compensation to victims of road accidents.
In contrast, a lawmakers' proposal regarding Green Card insurance compensation is that, before a claim is settled, proof of "validity of the claim, including a bank statement of payment to the injured person or his or her heirs" would also be required. The MPs argue that this will help to combat fraud.
As a rule, Green Card bureaux pay compensation and only then may seek to dispute a claim.
Velkova firmly backed the cabinet's proposal and objected to the proposals made by GERB-UDF, Vazrazhdane and Bulgarian Rise between the two readings.
She added that the Finance Ministry had received negative opinions about the proposals of the three parliamentary groups from the Council of Bureaux of the Green Card System and from the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority (EIOPA).
Representatives of four employers' organizations spoke in favour of the Finance Ministry's proposal for Insurance Code amendments.
Alexander Ivanov (GERB-UDF) said that if the Finance Ministry's proposal is adopted, the price of Motor Third Party Liability Insurance will go up. Borislav Bogoev, Chair of the Board of the Green Card National Bureau, said that if adopted, the cabinet-proposed amendments would hamper the National Bureau's operation.
Velkova said that the Finance Ministry backed amendments proposed by MPs Martin Dimitrov, Yordan Ivanov and Iskren Mitev, based on consultations with insurers. Dimitrov said the proposal met 80% of the demands of the Association of Bulgarian Insurers.