National Security Probes Bulgaria's Faltering Military Plant

Industry | February 4, 2013, Monday // 19:21|  views

Bulgarian government has pledged that the heavily indebted State-owned arms manufacturer, VMZ Sopot, will be privatized only if a suitable investor emerges. Photo by BGNES

The State Agency for National Security, DANS, has started a probe at Bulgaria's heavily indebted State-owned arms manufacturer, VMZ Sopot.

The information was reported Monday by the Director of the weapons factory, Ivan Stoenchev, cited by the Focus news agency.

Stoenchev refused to disclose any other details, except that he had provided to DANS agents all available documentation and information and was hoping for the speedy conclusion of the investigation.

"I am not authorized to disclose anything further," said he.

VMZ Sopot's workers, who have not received their wages for months, have been staging strikes since November in the town of Sopot where tensions have been boiling for months.

The strike, however, was called off by the trade unions on January 25th after news about the transfer of BGN 4 M for the employees' overdue salaries emerged.

Three weeks ago, the privatization procedure for the plant fell through, after the only bidder failed to present an adequate proposal.

The center-right GERB cabinet, led by Borisov, has claimed that only a significant layoff, to be followed by privatization, can salvage the works.

The VMZ Sopot weapons factory is estimated to have gathered a debt of BGN 140 M, with significant parts of it overdue.

Proceedings against the factory by its creditors have already been started.

The syndicalists, who oppose planned layoffs in order to privatize the plant, have called on Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov and his government to fulfill their commitment to secure the future of VMZ Sopot and asked for the people responsible for the plundering of the once thriving weapons manufacturer to be identified and prosecuted.

They also announced the Prosecutor's Office has already started a probe.

During his visit at VMZ Sopot last Monday, Borisov said Stoenchev will be given a second chance and he will keep for the time being the post despite his own strong criticism for the Director's performance.

The Cabinet and personally Labor Minister, Totyu Mladenov, have pledged to find work for all laid-off employees, estimated at about 900 from a total of 3 200.

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Tags: State Agency for National Security, DANS, VMZ Sopot, military plant, privatization, trade unions, state-owned, Defense Minister, Defense Ministry, privatization, delayed, salaries, Strike, bankruptcy, military plant, privatizaiton, protests, unpaid wages, military, weapons, layoffs, Strike, workers, debt, privatization, Boyko Borisov, Sopot, VMZ Sopot, KNSB, Podkrepa, Plamen Dimitrov, Konstantin Trenchev, Delyan Dobrev, recovery plan, Labor Minister, Totyu Mladenov


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