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Bulgaria to award zero-corruption label to local governments

Bulgaria to award zero-corruption label to local governments

Burgas, Vidin and Ruse municipalities are the first to apply for pilot projects under the innovative measure

Kiril Petkov, Minister of Economy in Bulgaria’s caretaker government has proposed certification of corruption-free municipalities in the Balkan country considered to be EU’s champion of graft and economic underperformance.

Corruption and investment interlinked   

Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index for 2020 once again relegates Bulgaria to the bottom position within the European Union with a score of 44 shared with Romania and Hungary. These two member states, however, are much more successful in attracting foreign investments.

“Corruption and investments in Bulgaria have unfortunately become intrinsically linked,” Petkov said at a recent hearing of the Parliamentary Committee on Economic Policy, Innovation and Tourism. “From morning till night, foreign investors are coming to the Ministry of Economy and within 5 minutes of our conversation the topic of corruption risks is broached, and they say they are afraid to invest,’’ the minister added, as quoted by economic.bg.

Monitoring the level of corruption

Petkov told the deputies that a mechanism is to be worked out together with the local governments, under which each municipality with zero corruption levels will receive a certificate. To be certified, a municipality needs to introduce the best practices to monitor the level of corruption. There will be independent control as well by representatives of Transparency International.

In this way, any investor facing the slightest of problems will have someone to address them to. The municipality itself, the mayor and the district governor need to make a commitment that they will be part of such a (corruption-monitoring) body, Petkov pointed out.    

The minister said that Vidin in North-Western Bulgaria has opted to become the first zero-corruption municipality, while Burgas and Ruse have insisted on being included in the pilot projects.    

Business supports

Responding to questions about the government’s measures to support the economy amid the fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, the minister said that BGN 430 million (EUR 220 mln) had been allocated in business supports.

From this package, BGN 260 mln are earmarked under the “60/40 measure”, BGN 100 mln have been set aside for the self-insured and BGN 30 mln for the airline industry. The remaining funds will go towards potential gratuitous support measures in case of a future lockdown, Petkov said.

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