Bulgarian Parliament sets up special committee investigating pension funds
Bulgaria’s Parliament voted on February 17 2015 to set up an ad hoc all-party committee on the financial situation of pension insurance companies and the pension funds managed by these companies, as well as the regulatory framework governing them.
The committee, the establishment of which was proposed by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), with the backing of the centre-right Reformist Bloc, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, nationalist Patriotic Front and socialist breakaway ABC, will have a month to produce a report.
The vote was 155 votes in favour, with two against and two abstentions, after a two-hour debate characterised by the customary political point-scoring, including opposition claims that the establishment of the ad-hoc committee was a vote of no confidence in Menda Stoyanova, a senior member of GERB, as head of Parliament’s committee on the budget and finance.
This claim was rejected by GERB, with GERB deputy leader Tsvetan Tsvetanov saying that the party had full confidence in Stoyanova, including as head of the budget and finance committee.
Even though GERB supported the setting up of the ad hoc committee, Stoyanova said at the start of the debate that the committee was unnecessary.
She said that she saw no reason to continue the practice of setting up other committees and ad hoc investigations that duplicate the activities of a standing committee.
No one needed a committee of eight people to identify problems and propose legislative changes. Stoyanova said that for several weeks, the budget and finance committee had been dealing with the issue of pension funds.
But she added that the establishment of the committee would have to be supported, so that the following day there would not be headlines screaming that GERB had sought to provide political protection to the Financial Supervision Commission.
This, in turn, led to an attack on Stoyanova by Lyutvi Mestan, leader of the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms. “You have given a classic example of the difference between responsible political behaviour and populism. When a government has to fear tomorrow’s headlines, it is not responsible, but populist,” Mestan said.
The ad hoc committee will be headed by Kornelia Ninova, an MP for the opposition BSP, with one member each from the other seven parties and coalitions in the National Assembly.
BSP MP Georgi Kadiev said that the establishment of the ad hoc committee was a vote of no confidence in the budget and finance committee and the people put in place by GERB.
“The political umbrella, under which the Bulgarian banking system is placed – Ivan Iskrov, BNB Governor, was selected by GERB and protected by GERB, led to losses of 3.7 billion leva in Corporate Commercial Bank. Is there any doubt that Mr Iskrov failed in the handling of the CorpBank case?” Kadiev said.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)