Car cutback puts Bulgarian Cabinet ministers’ feet on the ground

Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Ivailo Kalfin stole a march on his Cabinet colleagues by coming to work in a rented electric car on April 1, as a new rule took effect depriving deputy prime ministers and other members of the government of National Security Service transport.

It was no April Fool’s Joke as Kalfin’s ministry proudly tweeted photographs of Kalfin, who extolled the green credentials of the little red car he had rented out of his own pocket.

Electric cars, Kalfin said, were cheaper to maintain, non-polluting, were not required to have road tax stickers, and parking in Sofia’s green and blue zones was free. The one that he had rented could get up to 60km/h and had a range of 150km, making it ideal for urban environments.

Some eyebrows might have been raised by, amid at least one Bulgarian-language media website snidely suggested was a PR move, the fact that one of the photographs appeared to depict Kalfin parking rather close to a sign marking the place for use by people with disabilities.

kalfin electric car 2

Meanwhile, the public broadcaster enthused that Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova had been seen arriving for weekly Question Time at Parliament on foot. So did Defence Minister Nikolai Nenchev (who no doubt had other transport issues on his mind, having secured Cabinet agreement this week to propose to Parliament spending about 1.5 billion euro on about a dozen jet fighters, two naval patrol boats and a revamp of old Soviet-made MiG jet engines).

A government media statement on March 24 had announced that the decision to bar deputy prime ministers and Cabinet ministers from NSO cars was intended to optimise the use of the National Security Service and direct them to other forms of protection required by law, such as “people, events and objects” in danger.

“It is expected that the decision should contribute to the economic, efficient and effective use of the capacity and experience of the National Security Service,” the government statement said at the time.

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