site.btaUPDATED GERB-UDF Threatens to Boycott Government over Hospital Director's Removal
GERB-UDF Tuesday threatened to boycott the government over Health Minister Hristo Hinkov's decision to remove the director of Sofia's Pirogov emergency hospital, Valentin Dimitrov. Later in the day, Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov said that he was taken aback by GERB-UDF's "aggressive reaction", adding that the decision for the dismissal was entirely within the powers of the Health Minister.
Speaking to reporters in the corridors of Parliament on Tuesday, GERB-UDF Floor Leader Desislava Atanasova said that because of the Minister's decision to fire the Pirogov Director, the GERB-UDF parliamentary group will not support a single bill proposed by the Council of Ministers "until a decision-making mechanism is adopted". She added that GERB-UDF MPs will only attend parliamentary sittings that concern the adoption of amendments to the Bulgarian Constitution.
Speaking on GERB-UDF’s behalf, Atanasova urged their partners in the government to reconsider their actions and consult GERB before they act.
Tuesday's meeting of the parliamentary Budget and Finance Committee was cancelled over the absence of its members from GERB and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). Committee Chair Yordan Tsonev told the MPs in attendance that the reason for absence are unknown to him. "There is no point in starting a meeting with such a small number of people, because we will be debating important matters," he added. The meeting was scheduled to hold a second-reading debate on amendments to Bulgaria's tax laws.
Asked whether GERB's refusal to attend the budget committee's meeting means that they would not support the tax laws and the state budget in the final vote, Atanasova said that GERB has repeatedly suggested one thing: "When in a government we bear the burden of responsibility to the Bulgarian citizens together, we should also take decisions together, and this is once again not happening. We are beginning to think that someone is deliberately looking for provocations".
Atanasova said that her coalition is aware what it means for Bulgaria "to have no stable state budget". She added that she believes that "how we move forward from here is more important" and concluded that the current partnership [between Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB)] cannot last without trust.
The Denkov government was formed on a rotating basis in June. CC-DB and GERB-UDF agreed that Nikolay Denkov of CC-DB will rotate with Mariya Gabriel of GERB-UDF. Gabriel is currently serving as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister.
Here is how Prime Minister Denkov commented the decision of GERB-UDF: Blocking the budget because you disagree with a minister's decision is no way to behave. The National Assembly's job is to pass the budget and the laws. There is something wrong if the National Assembly believes that its main task is to watch out for replacements of hospital directors. Every institution needs to see to its tasks and if Parliament wants to get involved in the matter, there are ways to do it: it can summon the Health Minister to appear before a committee or in the debating chamber. The party leaders in the National Assembly need to get together and figure out how to unblock the situation. There are parliamentary procedures. They should use them.
Denkov said that he was informed about the dismissal of the Pirogov director. He added that he had not told the Health Minister to dismiss him, and neither could he stop him from doing so because it would appear as if he had interfered with his work. The Prime Minister said that he expects the Minister to defend the stance he has taken.
Denkov noted that he had read the audit on Pirogov and saw there serious violations.