Bulgarian Cabinet names new customs, revenue agency chiefs amid slew of appointments

Changes of government in Bulgaria are routinely accompanied by sweeping changes to the top ranks of the civil service and the third Boiko Borissov government is not bucking the trend, announcing a number of appointments over the past two days, including new heads of the customs and revenue agencies.

Georgi Kostov will take the helm of the Customs Agency, with incumbent Rozalia Dimitrova set to take a position as department head in the agency, Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said on May 10. Dimitrova, promoted to head the agency in March 2016, requested the change herself, Goranov said.

Kostov, the former Interior Ministry chief secretary until his sacking by the caretaker cabinet in February, had extensive experience in law enforcement and would help the agency be more efficient in fighting all forms of evasion, Goranov said.

The National Revenue Agency (NRA) would be headed by Galya Dimitrova, who was previously one of the deputy executive directors of the agency and had spent the previous 22 years with the NRA, Goranov said. She would replace Boiko Atanassov, who has served as the agency’s director since May 2013 and was slated to become deputy finance minister, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Television reported.

Atanassov’s appointment is yet to be made official, but the Cabinet has already started filling out deputy ministerial positions, with 10 appointments in seven ministries announced on May 9.

Zornitsa Roussinova, who was labour and social policy minister in the previous Borissov administration, would return as deputy labour minister and would be joined by Rossitsa Dimitrova, who was previously head of the social policy directorate in the Veliko Turnovo municipality.

Denitsa Nikolova, a deputy minister in the Regional Development Ministry in the previous Borissov government, will resume the same position and would be joined by Malina Kroumova, who held the deputy prime minister for EU funds portfolio in the recently-departed caretaker cabinet.

Former MP Nikolai Kanchev was appointed deputy environment minister, as was Atanaska Nikolova, who has held the same position between August 2014 and December 2016.

Other returnees from the previous Borissov administration included Zhecho Stankov, who would resume his duties as deputy energy minister, and Alexander Manolev, the former deputy tourism minister who would now serve as deputy economy minister.

Velik Zanchev, previously chairperson of the board of directors at state railways BDZ, was appointed deputy transport minister and Valya Koleva, who parliamentary secretary of the Sports Ministry in the previous Borissov government, was promoted to deputy minister.

The Cabinet followed up with eight more deputy minister appointments in five ministries on May 10.

Atanas Zapryanov will return as deputy defence minister, joined by former MP Anatoliy Velichkov. Also returning is Krassimir Tsipov as deputy interior minister, while Stefan Balabanov is a new appointment as deputy interior minister.

Stoil Apostolov and Lidia Neicheva will be deputy healthcare ministers, while former prosecutor and judge Evgeni Stoyanov was appointed deputy justice minister. Gabriela Kozareva was promoted from department head to deputy sports minister.

(May 11 update: Apostolov was fired by Borissov less than 24 hours after appointment following a media report alleging mismanagement and fraud at a hospital managed by Apostolov.)

Also at its meeting on May 10, the Cabinet approved the appointments of 22 regional governors, replacing most officials put in place by the caretaker government – which, in turn, sacked most of regional governors from the previous Borissov administration.

Eight of the new regional governors held the same jobs until the caretaker cabinet’s sweep – Bisser Mihailov in Blagoevgrad, Stoyan Passev in Varna, Malina Nikolova in Vratsa, Viktor Yanev in Kyustendil, Georgi Terziyski in Lovech, Nedyalko Slavov in Smolyan, Stanislav Dechev in Haskovo and Dimitar Ivanov Yambol. Irena Sokolova returns as regional governor of Pernik, a position she held in 2014/15, and Mitko Staikov will be regional governor of Turgovishte, a position he previously held in 2009/13.

Albena Dimitrova in Vidin and Stefan Mirev in Pazardjik were promoted from deputy governors to governors in those regions, while Ivelin Ivanov, previously chief secretary of the Silistra regional administration, was promoted to regional governor.

The other regional governor appointments were Lyubomira Popova in Veliko Turnovo, Nevena Petkova in Gabrovo, Nikola Chanev in Kurdjali, Rossen Belchev in Montana, Miroslav Petrov in Pleven and Gyunai Hyusmen in Razgrad.

The government’s media statement only provided the names of 19 new regional governors, making no mention of the other three appointees. According to Bulgarian National Television, the other three regional governors were Chavdar Bozhourski in Sliven, Gergana Mikova in Stara Zagora and former MP Stefan Zhelev in Shoumen.

In Parliament too there was a flurry of appointments on May 10 as the House voted to fill out its 23 permanent committees and name committee chiefs.

Several MPs from Borissov’s GERB party were re-elected to chair the same committees as in the previous legislature – Menda Stoyanova in the budget and finance committee, Tsvetan Tsvetanov (internal security and public order), Danail Kirilov (legal affairs), Delyan Dobrev (energy), Milena Damyanova (education and science), Daniela Daritkova (healthcare).

Three former GERB ministers in the previous Borissov administration will take helm of parliamentary committees covering the same are as their previous ministerial portfolios – Vezhdi Rashidov (culture and media), Dessislava Taneva (agriculture and foods) and Ivelina Vassileva (environment and waters).

GERB MPs will chair several other key committees, including Djema Grozdanova (foreign policy), Konstantin Popov (defence) and Dimitar Lazarov (control of security services, wire-taps and access to data). GERB deputy floor leader Krassimir Velchev will chair the religious denominations and human rights committee.

GERB’s coalition partners, the nationalist United Patriots, will take the helm of four committees – Iskren Vesselinov (regional development and local administration), Boris Yachev (fighting corruption, conflict of interest and parliamentary ethics), Emil Dimitrov (oversight of revenue agencies, combatting grey economy and contraband) and Slavcho Atanassov (youth and sports).

The largest opposition party, the socialists, would have the chairperson position in three committees – Petar Kanev will head the economic policy and tourism committee, former foreign minister Kristian Vigenin will chair the European affairs and EU funds committee, while Anton Koutev was named head of the committee for interaction with non-governmental organisations and citizen complaints.

Hasan Ademov from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms was re-elected as chair of the labour, social and demographic policy and his party colleague, Halil Letifov, will take the helm of the transport, information technologies and communications committee.

Finally, the smallest party in the current legislature, populist Volya, will have one committee chair, with Andon Donchev elected as head of the committee for policies on Bulgarians abroad.



The Sofia Globe staff

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