Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Pledges No Cuts in Social Benefits of ServicemenDefense | November 4, 2015, Wednesday // 21:35| views
Bulgaria's Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev. Photo BGNES
Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev said on Wednesday that there is no need to trim the social benefits granted to the members of the military as the armed forces have already completed a reorganization programme aimed at saving costs.
“The status and social benefits of military personnel have been protected” following consultations with President Rosen Plevneliev, Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, Nenchev said in a statement.
“The Defence Ministry made a huge effort to persuade the state leadership in the need to keep in place the existing provisions of the Defence and Armed Forces Act relating to the status of servicemen,” Nenchev said.
A proposal by the Finance Ministry to impose cuts in the social benefits of members of the police force and armed forces staff as part of cost-saving measures in the 2016 budget draft have sparked protests of police officers across Bulgaria on Tuesday and Wednesday.
An analysis of the possible negative impact of the proposed cuts in social benefits of servicemen on Bulgaria’s defence capabilities, the motivation of the military and the implementation of the country’s obligations as a member of NATO had been presented to the President and the government.
“With today's decision we’ve succeeded in ensuring predictability of the career development and social status of servicemen,” Nenchev said.
The Finance Ministry has sought cuts in the one-off compensation paid to armed forces staff upon retirement in the 2016 budget draft now before parliament. The planned cuts have prompted a rise in the number of notices of retirement submitted by members of the military.
Under current legislation members of the military and police force can retire earlier than employees in sectors not related to defence and security.
A clear distinction has already been made between military and civilian personnel and their social status as a result of the completed reorganization of Bulgaria’s armed forces, Nenchev said.
“It will make no sense to spend significant amounts of public funds to acquire modern weapons and equipment, if we lose staff which is the basis of the defense capabilities of the state. That’s why, I appeal to all who have given notice to retire or leave the system to reconsider their decision,” Nenchev added.
Nenchev will start consultations with all political parties represented in Parliament on Thursday, seeking support for the Defence Council conclusion that the existing social benefits granted to the members of the military should not be trimmed.
“The progress we’ve made today provides a good basis for preserving the stability of the military profession and the prospects ahead of it,” the Defence Council said in a separate statement on Wednesday.
It also called on the members of the military to refrain from “hasty actions, which could lead to social tensions and undermine the prestige of the armed forces."
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