Bulgaria's Transport Minister Ousted over Investigation, Failures - Report

Domestic | May 18, 2011, Wednesday // 13:01|  views

Outgoing Transport Minister Alexander Tsvetkov is pictured here in July 2010 giving the start of the construction of a railway terminal in Dragoman for which he is under investigation that might have cost him his job. Photo by BGNES

Even though Bulgaria's Transport Minister Alexander Tsvetkov has formally resigned his post over "personal reasons", there are indications that he was ousted because of failed policies and lobbyist deals.

Tsvetkov somewhat surprisingly resigned his position on Wednesday, the only explanation on part of the Transport Ministry being that her had personal motives for this move.

Various statements and media reports, however, suggest that the reasons for his dismissal have to do with the bad performance over the absorption of EU funds from Operational Program "Transport", the delayed reforms in state transport companies, and the technically bankrupt Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ) Holding.

These motives are somewhat paradoxical since the Transport Ministry just boasted a relatively decent performance in the absorption of EU funds, while the ailing state railways are doing much better than in the past few years.

MPs from the ruling party GERB have recently suggested that Tsvetkov is being investigated for abuses by the State National Security Agency DANS.

In September 2010, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov himself indicated that Tsvetkov is under investigation over a public procurement tender, a project for the construction of a "rolling highway" terminal at the Dragoman train station.

According to the reports, the BGN 6 M deal for the construction of the Dragoman terminal should cost only BGN 2 M.

The results of the DANS investigation against Tsvetkov are still unclear.

In April, Bulgaria's Finance Minister Simeon Djankov, who is also a Deputy PM in charge of the economy and Tsvetkov's superior, made it clear he was not satisfied with the work of the Transport Minister, and hinted that a government reshuffle might be on the way.

In his last interview on the opening of the Lyulin Highway on Sunday, Tsvetkov told the Standart daily that he was satisfied with the work of his team, and described the reform of the railways that he has prepared as "unprecedented".

In almost two years in office, Tsvetkov got tangled in a couple of the so called lobbyist scandals over the distribution of bus lines among transport firms around the country through controversial legislation that was subsequently blocked, and over the regulations for school buses that many suspected were designed to favor certain companies.

Tsvetkov has also been criticized for the delay in railway infrastructure tenders and projects.

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Tags: Alexander Tsvetkov, Transport Minister, GERB, Cabinet, Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, Simeon Djankov, BDZ, Bulgarian State Railways, DANS, Dragoman


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