No resignations in Sofia public transport row

Written by on November 14, 2012 in Bulgaria, News - No comments

Sofia mayor Yordanka Fandukova has issued final warnings to two of her deputies, but decided against demanding their resignations following an inquest into how the city hall almost overpaid 2.6 million leva to a private public transport contractor.

The row broke last month and has been simmering ever since, with opposition councillors sporadically accusing the majority in the city council of incompetence and threatening to get prosecutors involved.

It all started when the city hall, dominated by the country’s ruling party GERB, approved a motion to pay 3.3 million leva as interest, accrued over the first six months of the year, on the 10 million leva owed to Karat-S, which runs 16 bus lines in the Bulgarian capital city – despite protests from the opposition that the figure was too high.

Fandukova used her executive authority to suspend the payment and the city hall’s audit office later calculated the interest at 632 000 leva, meaning that the city hall was about to overpay more than 2.6 million leva to the private contractor.

The investigation ordered by Fandukova found that the fault for the mistake lay with one of the accounting departments at the city hall-owned Centre for Urban Mobility, not the deputy mayor for transport Lyubomir Hristov or deputy mayor for finance Doncho Barbalov, who had put the motion to the council and whose resignations the opposition councillors demanded.

Karat-S owner Mirolyub Stolarski, for the record, has claimed that the city hall owed his company even more money in interest – about six million leva.

In sparing her deputies from the sack, Fandukova lay the entire blame on the Centre for Urban Mobility, accusing it of not following standard operating procedures and operations meant to prevent this kind of mistakes or abuse.

She asked for the resignations of the centre’s deputy director Nikolai Kostov, who was the top executive at the time the report was drafted in July, and the head of the department that drafted the report, as well as the entire team that participated in the drafting.

Meanwhile, socialist councillor Georgi Kadiev (who ran against Fandukova in the last two mayoral elections as his party’s nominee), made good on his threat, referring the case to prosecutors and accusing the mayor’s office of attempting to make a political payoff to a company that has sponsored GERB in the past.

 (Photo: John Nyberg/sxc.hu)

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