Bulgaria’s National Assembly has approved the first reading of amendments to the Interior Ministry Act that will cut back retirement pay for police who take up employment at the ministry after the amendments take effect.
This is a dilution of a previous plan, that brought police out in large-scale protests in 2015, that would have reduced pension pay perks for all Interior Ministry employees.
The first-reading vote on June 3 2016 saw 116 votes in favour of the amendments, 30 against and 12 abstentions. The amendments were opposed by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and BSP splinter party ABC, the latter now in opposition although until recently it was part of the government.
As tabled by Interior Minister Roumyana Buchvarova, the amendments envisage that on taking retirement, police will get a lump sum payment of the equivalent of 12 salaries, instead of the current 20.
The bill also provides for a change to the rules for public servants holding administrative positions at the ministry. They will not receive benefits such as the salary package on leaving the ministry.
The bill transforms the Fire Safety and Population Protectorate General Directorate into an agency. The aim is to achieve maximum decentralisation and autonomy of the firefighting service.
An executive agency to handle public procurement processes will be set up.
Also envisaged is the creation of a separate state entity to handle administrative services such as car registration and the issuing of identity documents. Buchvarova envisages this entity’s bodies being financed primarily from fees collected for services rendered.
The socialist opposition said that the proposals provided nothing that would improve the operational organisation, management and working conditions at the Interior Ministry, but was motivated purely by wanting to save money.