Bulgaria MPs to Vote on New Competition Watchdog Members

Domestic | March 9, 2016, Wednesday // 08:24|  views

File photo, BGNES

A committee of lawmakers is to hold a hearing of candidates to take over as members of the Commission for the Protection of Competition, Bulgaria's anti-monopoly watchdog.

Parliament is to carry through the procedure despite concerns raised Radan Kanev, the leader of DSB party, and subsequently by Prime Minister Boyko Borisov that the election might be flawed.

The Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB) are part of the junior coalition partner to Borisov, the Reformist Bloc, but last year announced thety were moving into opposition. Kanev earlier this week warned the election should be halted as the candidate names, a predictable choice, and legal amendments that assign more competence to the CPC to oversee public tenders do not contribute to the body's efficiency. His remarks come against the backdrop of the cancellation in February of a series of public tenders worth hundreds of millions of BGN.

Lawmakers approved earlier this year new legislation on public procurement, which sparked controversy with the boosted authority of commission's body, but also, in the words of opposition MPs, set out vague criteria for the award of public works. It also stipulates that insolvent companies can be admitted to tenders.

Borisov had suggested that if there is any tinge of doubt about transparency and efficiency of the election procedure, it should be stopped for the moment.

But his GERB party's parliamentary group head Tsvetan Tsvetanov said the rules to elect new CPC members had been voted by lawmakers and counted on support from the majority of MPs.

Other Reformist Bloc parties also disagreed with Kanev.

However, a non-profit organization also warned against the procedure, saying fast-track rules of hearings and election allow limited access to candidates of civic background.

Rosen Zhelyazkov and Georgitsa Stoyanova (GERB), Anna Georgieva and Kiril Dobrev (BSP), Plamen Kirilov (DPS), Krasimir Vitanov (RB), Stamen Garbelov (BDC), Kalinka Pavlova (BDC), Nikolay Iliev and Dimitar Kyumyurdzhiev and Kiril Doychinov (nominated by an independent MP) are the names of candidates to compose the new watchdog.

Zhelyazkov, who according to local media reports is most likely to get the office, was Chief Secretary of the Council of Ministers (the government) during the first cabinet of Boyko Borisov in 2009-2013.

In the spring of 2013, his name was involved in the so-called Kostinbrod affair, with allegations hurled by the prosecuting authority, GERB's socialist opponents and others that the party of Borisov had printed over 350 000 fake ballots to manipulate the snap elections scheduled for May of the same year.

The scandal broke just a day before the vote was to take place.  

Accusations have not been proved, but Zhelyazkov's name was removed from GERB's election tickets.

The Commission has seven members, including a Chair, Deputy Chair, and five others.

The last term of office of the previous Commission expired in October, and no election procedure has taken place ever since.

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Tags: Commission for the Protection of Competition, CPC, Boyko Borisov, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Radan Kanev, public tenders, public procurement, Rosen Zhelyazkov, Kostinbrod affair


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