Bulgarian deputy PM pledges crackdown on grey economy at Black Sea, and a ‘show at Sunny Beach’

Valeri Simeonov, one of two deputy prime ministers from the nationalist United Patriots in Boiko Borissov’s coalition government, has pledged a crackdown on illegal stalls, hotel tax-dodging schemes and other grey economy practices at the Black Sea.

In a television interview on May 12, Simeonov, who is in charge of economic and demographic policy, said: “There’ll be a show at Sunny Beach next week. You’re welcome to come”.

This meant demolition of some of the commercial stalls at the coastline.

“Emergency measures should be taken against the ugly phenomenon of removable stalls. We call on the municipal administration to get the job done, not to serve someone’s interests,” Simeonov said.

He described Bourgas – the second-largest city on Bulgaria’s Black Sea coast – as “one of the most criminal cities in Bulgaria”.

Simeonov said that he had discussed with Tourism Minister Nikolina Angelkova a change to the legal framework for granting beach concessions, indicating that he saw them as slanted, large beaches allocated to groups such as those originating from controversial business group VIS.

“The state has to go into this and observe the procedure for concession beaches.”

Concession-holders were violating the requirements for beachfront restaurants, Simeonov said.

“I will be uncompromising with regard to the requirements of the laws, and I do not care who comes from where,” he said.

Simeonov said that campsites at Bulgaria’s Black Sea should be on precisely defined and regulated plots.

“There must be certain places with the appropriate facilities. It is not permissible for anyone to put up their tent where it is convenient. Mass misconception of Bulgarian society is that a law must be constantly changing, as if the law itself can be self-fulfilling.”

He spoke out against “wild beach” camping, accusing “greens” of inconsistent behaviour, wanting to keep nature clean, but advocating unlimited camping on three beaches that were “the most beautiful places in our Black Sea”.

There should be camping only in certain places, that had supplies of electricity and water and a sanitation service.

Simeonov said that he had spoken to Galya Dimitrova, newly-appointed this week as head of the National Revenue Agency, about apart hotels that were dodging taxes. They represented a huge share of the grey economy, he said.

He also addressed the issue of Borissov’s GERB party tabling in Parliament legislation to introduce a majoritarian electoral system for the National Assembly.

The United Patriots were opposed, preferring a mixed system of proportional and majoritarian representation.

He did not believe that this difference of opinion in the governing coalition would lead to problems within it.

The GERB legislation has been supported so far by only one of the other four parliamentary groups, Vesselin Mareshki’s Volya party, which is the smallest group in the National Assembly with only 12 MPs.

The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party, the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms and now the coalition government minority partner the United Patriots all oppose a completely majoritarian system, all favouring a mixed system for parliamentary elections.

“The majoritarian vote in Bulgaria at this moment would lead to the concretisation of the largest parties and those who rely on a corporate or bought vote, at best in the Bulgarian parliament there will be three parties,” Simeonov said.

Referring to the national referendum of 2016 which saw a vote in favour of a majoritarian electoral system – though the turnout in the referendum was too low to be binding on the National Assembly – Simeonov said that the option had been proposed by a “television chalga group”, a reference to Slavi Trifonov’s show.

The majoritarian option would be “harmful and extremely dangerous to democracy, such votes are only in underdeveloped countries, Burkina Faso, Senegal and so on,” Simeonov said.




The Sofia Globe staff

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