Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev is to name the caretaker cabinet on March 12 at 4pm Sofia time, a day earlier than expected, going by a report by Austria’s Der Standard based on an interview with the Bulgarian head of state.
The caretaker cabinet, expected to include 15 members, will remain in office until a governing coalition is formed after the May 12 2013 ahead-of-term national parliamentary elections.
Elections are being held ahead of schedule after Boiko Borissov submitted his government’s resignation on February 20, after violent incidents in Sofia following weeks of increasingly strident protests, that initially were about electricity prices and later encompassed a long list of grievances about cost of living and corruption.
When the caretaker cabinet takes office on May 13, the current Parliament will be dissolved.
On May 12, the National Assembly will hold its final sitting, scheduled to start at 1pm.
Parliament’s business for the day includes a series of ratifications of agreements between Bulgarian and multilateral bodies, the second reading of the termination of the agreement between Bulgaria, Russia and Greece on the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis pipeline, a proposal by the opposition socialists on reducing electricity prices, a second reading of a bill submitted by minority OLJ party leader Yane Yanev on amendments to the law on assets disclosure by senior government officials and the second reading of Tourism Act amendments.
Meanwhile, some of the ministers and senior officials from Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB party, in office since the party’s victory in July 2009 regular parliamentary elections, have given their assessments of how GERB had performed in government.
There were some shortcomings in the government but the work that it had done should not be forgotten, outgoing Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov said in a March 11 interview with public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television.
Tsvetanov said that GERB would base its elections campaign on what the party had achieved during its term in office, citing specific examples.
“Everything done in the field of agriculture, infrastructure, culture – it was done by our government. We will have the chance to show the results during the elections campaign. Indeed, we had some shortcomings, but we should not forget all the work that was done,” Tsvetanov said.
“Together with Prime Minister Boiko Borissov, we have always looked for a way to increase people’s incomes. The PM always listened to the opinion of the financial experts – Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov and European Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva,” Tsvetanov said.
Tsvetanov said that it had been a mistake that the country had not allowed itself to run a larger deficit.
Tomislav Donchev, the minister in charge of the use of EU funds, gave himself a “very good five” (Bulgarian school marks used a system where a top mark is six) for his work, local media said.
He said that he hoped that the period up to the ahead-of-term elections would not have a negative impact on the use of EU funds.
Speaking to journalists on March 9, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Tsetska Tsacheva, said that the GERB government had gone too far its efforts to maintain financial stability. Bulgaria has reduced its deficit to 0.5 per cent of GDP, while strong EU economies run deficits of three per cent. Tsacheva, quoted by news agency BTA, said that the GERB government should reassess its governance and take stock of its failures. According to Tsacheva, GERB were unable to strike a balance in their policies and despite the financial stability, Bulgaria remains the poorest EU country.
On March 11, Dyankov said that unnamed “oligarchs” wanted Bulgaria’s currency board gone so that they could pay off their debts cheaply when the Bulgarian currency was devalued, as quoted by local broadcaster Darik Radio.
Concerning his own performance as finance minister, Dyankov said that he left Bulgaria’s finances in better shape: “The net state budget is in better shape than when we took office. We were handed a gross fiscal reserve of 7.7 billion leva, with debts of 4.3 billion leva. If you subtract one from the other, you’ll see that the fiscal reserve is bigger than in July 2009, even though the [past] four years were the worst in Europe’s economic history for decades.”
Defense Minister Any Angelov said that he was leaving his successor a “calm administration” that was able to find the right balance between military and civilian expertise, Bulgarian National Television reported.
Justice Minister Diana Kovacheva gave herself and her team a “six”, saying that her only regret was not being able to finish what was started – such as the new Penal Code, which will now be finalised by the incoming caretaker government in May. (Kovacheva was appointed to the Cabinet last year, replacing Margarita Popova who was elected Vice President).