Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov took a fresh swipe at the track record of the caretaker cabinet that his government succeeded in June, listing a number of areas in which caretaker ministers made “obvious governance errors and breached the rules.”
Denkov, who upon taking office ordered his Cabinet to check large-scale spending by their ministries in recent weeks and months, told a news conference on August 3 that his government had to “fight fires from day one.”
“We are talking about billions of leva and seriously delayed reforms, which could cause difficulties for the economy and people,” Denkov said, adding that control bodies would review the issues and some cases may be referred to the prosecutor’s office.
He said that he wanted to “bust the myth” that caretaker cabinets had a spotless record, unlike governments elected by Parliament.
As examples of the caretaker cabinet’s failures Denkov listed the contract signed with Turkey’s Botas, saying that it was highly disadvantageous to Bulgaria; the delay in tabling the 2023 Budget; the decision to scrap the air ambulance programme; delays in implementing measures agreed under the Recovery and Resilience Plan, which could delay payment of EU post-Covid recovery funding; failure to repair reservoir dams; a backlog of road infrastructure repairs and construction contracts.
Denkov did find a positive, saying that the work of caretaker justice minister Krum Zarkov aided his government in getting a good start with its legislative programme.
His remarks come as the political groups backing his government in the National Assembly have tabled constitutional amendments that, among other topics, aim to curtail both the term and powers of caretaker cabinets.
Over the past two years, Bulgaria has had a succession of hung parliament, which allowed caretaker cabinets appointed by President Roumen Radev to stay in office longer than expected.
Gulub Donev served as caretaker PM between May and December 2021, and again from August 2022 to June 2023, making policy decisions in a number of areas, even though caretaker governments are meant to only handle routine matters as they prepare parliamentary elections.
This has prompted criticism that Radev was effectively governing the country via proxy and the constitutional amendments are widely seen as an attempt to curtail the president’s influence.
Asked to comment on Denkov’s remarks, Donev said that “this is not serious criticism, but laughable cries to distract the public’s attention from the important topics”, as quoted by daily 24 Chasa.
(PM Nikolai Denkov photo: government.bg)
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