Less than a day after Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov vowed that the controversial plan to move the headquarters of Bulgaria’s Customs Agency to the city of Rousse on the Danube would be implemented within a month and a half, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that the plan had been put on hold for some years.
Bulgaria’s current centre-right government has embarked on the decentralisation of the headquarters of a number of government ministries and agencies to cities other than the capital Sofia. The plan has caused protests among some staff, notably at the Customs Agency.
Implementation of the decentralisation plan has begun, in part, with the move of the tourism agency to Bulgaria’s second city of Plovdiv. The deputy minister in charge of tourism now has an office overlooking Plovdiv’s recently-restored Roman Stadium.
On September 17, Dyankov – who is also Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister – said that the Cabinet was determined to go ahead with the decentralisation and the Customs Agency would be in Rousse by the end of October 2012. The process of moving government bodies to cities other than Sofia had been delayed during this summer but would now regain momentum, Dyankov said.
But on September 18, Borissov told journalists during a visit to Rousse that the Customs Agency move would go ahead – in a few years’ time.
Borissov, whose party is seeking a further term in parliamentary elections in summer 2013 and whose senior ministers in recent days have been making much of stated plans to increase pensions and minimum salaries next year, said that Dyankov had been correct “in principle” to say that the Customs Agency would move.
But, Borissov said, the move would be difficult and costly, and so would take place only in a few years’ time, with the savings to be used in the immediate term to increase pensions and minimum salaries next year.
(Photo of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov: Council of the European Union)