Staff of Bulgaria’s Customs Agency were to hold a protest on July 23 against a plan to move the agency’s headquarters from capital city Sofia to Rousse on the Danube, part of a wider plan by the Government to decentralise the administration by moving various agencies from the capital to various cities.
The protest was to be held at 6pm, starting at the central customs directorate in Sofia and moving on to the Finance Ministry headquarters. The protesters already have written an open letter, with about 270 signatures, to Prime Minister Boiko Borissov objecting to the move.
They described the shift to Rousse as “hasty and unjustified”. Moving the customs laboratory alone would cost 900 000 leva (about 450 000 euro), they said. The taxpayer also would have to pay for travel and accommodation when Customs Agency staff came to Sofia on official business, they said.
The protesters, who are backed by the Podkrepa trade union federation, said that communication with other state institutions and with businesses would be worsened and said that there was a risk that their information systems would drop below international standards.
Those against the move dismissed the notion that the move would create economic benefits and jobs as “ridiculous” because only posts compulsorily required by regulations would be filled. If the Government wants to give economic benefits to regions other thanSofia, it should create tax breaks for companies in those regions, they said.
Simeon Dyankov, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, rejected the objections, saying that senior Customs staff were relatively well-paid and they would benefit from being in a city where cost of living was lower.
“I am convinced that moving the Customs Agency to Rousse is a good move,” Dyankov said, vowing that it would go ahead.