site.btaUPDATED PM Designate Denkov: Proposed Government Has Courage and Expertise to Make Important Decisions
Addressing Parliament here on Tuesday, Prime Minister Designate Nikolay Denkov said that today is the day for the MPs to elect a cabinet which has the courage and expertise to make important decisions and bear responsibility. Denkov made a commitment, if the cabinet is elected, to table a draft budget setting the deficit at 3%, to fulfil commitments under the international programme, to work for Bulgaria’s entry into Schengen in 2023 and the eurozone from the beginning of 2025, and to implement the legislative agenda, including changes to the Constitution, in close coordination with the National Assembly.
He said that if the priorities are not implemented, he will resign. “It was not my childhood dream to be the Prime Minister in a country in a bad political crisis, with a divided society. My childhood dream was to be a scientist and I fulfilled it. This is why, if the priorities are not accomplished, I will resign,” he said.
Here is what Denkov also said:
Bulgaria also needs a stable parliament and the most urgent task is the adoption of the delayed budget for this year, which is crucial for the payment of pensions, salaries, road repairs, money for hospitals, kindergartens, etc. Without an adequate budget, the next few months could be difficult, while the budget for 2024 must also be prepared. Important changes need to be made in the anti-corruption laws and the Penal Code in keeping with commitments in the Recovery and Resilience Plan, and changes in the Constitution are imperative to give people back a sense of justice. For us, this is a cause and to make it a reality, we rely on broad parliamentary and public support.
The difficult political situation in the country has generated ideas that are novel in Bulgaria but have worked in other countries. As a guarantee that this government will work for at least 18 months - and hopefully for four years - GERB-UDF and CC-DB have agreed that the cabinet will be led by a prime minister and a deputy prime minister, who will exchange offices after nine months.
Denkov outlined the priorities of the Denkov-Gabriel cabinet: urgent submission to Parliament of a budget with a deficit of up to 3%, while maintaining social payments unchanged and without increasing taxes; implementation of the international priorities for Schengen and the eurozone; close cooperation with the social partners for a balanced development of the economy and human resources with a focus on research, innovation and education; working in close cooperation with the National Assembly to implement the legislative agenda, including amendments to the Constitution.
Denkov said further:
If it receives your support, the cabinet will do everything necessary for Bulgaria to enter Schengen this year. This goal is also linked to our intentions to introduce a set of anti-corruption measures, reforms in the structure of the security services and strengthening the control at the external borders because of the increased migrant pressure.
In order to enter the euro area no later than 1 January 2025, budgets for this year and for 2024 will be adopted with deficits of up to 3% and stable government spending without excessive government debt drawdowns. There will also be a major campaign on the introduction of the euro. Real control of unfair commercial practices will be set in place by strengthening the competition and consumer protection commissions. The policy of ending the energy monopoly of external suppliers of electricity and natural gas will be continued.
Agriculture will become a national priority.
The government that we are asking you to support aims to secure the second payment under the National recovery Plan and to take steps to speed up the next payments. A new procedure will be set in place for the selection and funding of regional projects.
Mariya Gabriel and myself will be responsible for the actions of this cabinet, and we are aware how difficult the coming weeks and months will be, but we believe that we can do many good and sustainable things for Bulgaria.
Of Gabriel, who will be deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs for the first nine months, Denkov said that nobody is a more apt partner for the European institutions than the former Bulgarian EU commissioner, to address the most important international priorities.
He presented the composition of the draft cabinet and highlighted the skills of the ministerial candidates.