Bulgaria Parliament Approves New Health Minister

Domestic | April 21, 2010, Wednesday // 11:22|  views

Anna-Maria Borisova was sworn in as Bulgaria's new Health Minister after parliament approved her nomination on Wednesday. Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's parliament approved on Wednesday the nominee for new Health Minister Prof. Anna-Maria Borisova with 148 votes in support.

Borisova will replace Bozhidar Nanev, who resigned at the end of last month over corruption charges linked to a drug order for the swine flu pandemic

The nomination of Maria Borisova was to be put to the vote by the MPs last week but the plan failed despite earlier promises of Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov. The delay was due to Borisova's personal request because she made prior commitments to attend a conference before learning about the nomination, the governmental press office informed.

The new health minister is widely unknown in Bulgaria's medical circles and the Doctors' College in Sofia said on the day of the nomination that they do not know who she is and doubt the nomination will pass in plenary hall.

In addition to a short TV interview, the only media appearance of the Health Minister-hopeful was Thursday in Plovdiv where she dismayed reporters by her refusal to answer questions and by persistently repeating one single phrase: “I am smiling.”

Borisova refused to answer even the questions of the opposition during the nearly two-hour debates in parliament prior to the vote.

“I am well read into the procedure and will use my right not to answer the questions. Let's stop talking and start working. Just let me do my job,” Borisova commented at the end of the debate.

The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the ethnic Turkish Movement for Right and Freedoms (DPS) were the first to declare that they would not support the nomination in the Parliament.

The nomination however passed thanks to the last-minute vow for support by the right-wing Blue Coalition and the ardent approval by the nationalist Ataka party.

The Health Ministry has been said to be running on autopilot for the last few weeks as it has now several vacant posts, including the minister's - one for a Deputy Minister, for the head of the Medicine Policy Department, and for minister's advisor on medicine policy.

The last three resigned just two days after the prime minister named Borisova the new Health Minister and ten days after the resignation of Bozhidar Nanev from the post over corruption charges linked to a drug order for the swine flu pandemic.

Bozhidar Nanev quit on March 30, hours after he was charged with willful breach of duty over allegedly unfavorable deals for the purchase of antiviral drug Tamiflu last December.

He could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted. The minister, who has denied any wrongdoing, was released on a EUR 1,000 bail.

Nanev was the first acting minister in Bulgaria to be charged with corruption.

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Tags: swine flu, Nikolay Kokinov, Bozhidar Nanev, tamiflu, Boyko Borisov, Anna-Maria Borisova, health minister, Blue Coalition, Vanyo Sharkov


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