Mixed signals from Bulgarian government on cuts to administration

Media reports that the Bulgarian Socialist Party government is planning to cut state administration staff numbers in 2014 were followed by mixed signals from cabinet ministers.

On October 12, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio, quoting unofficial information, said that the Finance Ministry had sent an order to all ministries to prepare for 10 per cent staff cuts from January 1 2014.

This message had been sent to all ministries, agencies and other institutions, including the Presidential administration and Parliament, according to the report.

Interviewed by Darik Radio, Daniela Bobeva, deputy prime minister for economic development confirmed the report, asking how the information had been leaked. For the country to be fiscally sound within a tight budget framework, there would have to be cuts in the public administration, Bobeva said, while adding that the budgetary process was a long one in which ministers and various agencies came up with proposals for discussion.

Further confirmation that staff reductions were being planned came in statements by Labour and Social Policy Minister Hassan Ademov, who said that people dismissed from the state administration should get compensation as provided for in labour law and legislation on the public service. Ademov said that there should be an “individual approach” to such cuts.

Media reports on October 13 quoted Plamen Oresharski, occupant of the prime minister’s chair in the Bulgarian Socialist Party government, as having told local authorities at a meeting in Razgrad that there would be 10 per cent staff cuts in the state administration, adding up to about 15 000 people.

But later on October 13, reports quoted Oresharski, at a separate meeting – where he was greeted by anti-government protesters repeating calls for his resignation – as saying that the cuts to civil service staff numbers would not add up to 10 per cent.

Oresharski said that in the draft Budget for 2014, provision was made for lower maintenance expenditure and there was a requirement for structural optimisation. “We are still discussing what units have overlapping functions and how they can be optimised, we have never said that there would be a mechanical 10 per cent cut.”

He said that fiscal austerity was not an end in itself, but rather the improvement of the functioning of the public administration in general. Asked whether there would be “optimizations” at all ministries and agencies, Oresharski said that he expected proposals from ministries on how to improve performance within the various units.

“I hope that it is clear to all that the administration is not brilliant,” Oresharski said.




The Sofia Globe staff

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