Bulgarian Energy Minister Temenuzhka Petkova said on February 23 that she was submitting her resignation from Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s Cabinet so that the deal for the sale of energy utility CEZ’s assets in Bulgaria would not be called into question.
Czech state-owned utility CEZ said on February 22 that its supervisory board has approved the sale of the group’s assets in Bulgaria, which include the electricity distribution company that services the western part of the country and the capital city of Sofia.
The buyer is Bulgarian firm Inercom Bulgaria, with a contract expected to be signed “in a few days”, CEZ said.
Petkova said that the reason that she was submitting her resignation was that for 20 years she had known the owner of the company that CEZ had approved as the buyer of its Bulgarian assets.
Media reports identified Ginka Vurbakova of Pazardzhik as the owner of Inercom Bulgaria.
Petkova said that she had spoken with Borissov and it was his decision whether to accept her resignation. On February 23, Borissov was attending an informal meetings of EU leaders in Brussels.
Petkova said that the honorable thing to do was to resign that there could be no doubts about the CEZ deal. She denied claims that she had been Vurbakova’s bridesmaid.
She noted that there had been much speculation about the topic and that in 2017 there had been “questions” when a company in which Vurbakova was involved had participated in the procedure. “t the time I said that I had known these people for the past 20 years (but) I am not their person.”
Petkova said that there would be a strict procedure ahead of approval of the transaction, involving the Competition Protection Commission, the Financial Supervision Commission, and the energy regulatory commission. The State Agency for National Security would also conduct an investigation because it was a matter of strategic infrastructure for energy security.
Petkova has been a minister in Borissov’s third Cabinet since its formation in May 2017. She also was a minister in Borissov’s second Cabinet, which was in office from November 2014 to January 2017. From 2010 to 2013, she was director of the State Financial Inspection Agency. She was deputy finance minister in the Georgi Blizhnaski caretaker cabinet in 2014.
Should Petkova’s resignation be accepted, it would be the second departure from the third Borissov government, after Nikolai Petrov stepped down in October 2017 as health minister, to be replaced by Kiril Ananiev.