GERB-UDF to partially boycott sittings of Parliament

Boiko Borissov’s GERB-UDF parliamentary group, the largest in the National Assembly, is to boycott all sittings of the legislature barring those involving proposed constitutional changes and the Budget, pending agreement on a decision-making mechanism within the informal ruling coalition.

This was announced on December 5 by GERB-UDF parliamentary group leader Dessislava Atanassova, the catalyst being Health Minister Hristo Hinkov’s dismissal of Valentin Dimitrov as head of Pirogov emergency hospital in Sofia.

GERB-UDF is stung that the dismissal of Dimitrov had not been agreed with them.

The melodrama comes a few days after talks involving Borissov and We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria’s Hristo Ivanov and Assen Vassilev produced agreement that the majority supporting the Cabinet should make decisions together on key issues of governance.

Atanassova accused Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov of not keeping to his personal assurances that there would be no political interference, not only in the health sector, but also throughout the public sector.

“For months we have made compromises,” Atanassova said, saying that one had been GERB-UDF’s withdrawal of the deputy head of the National Health Insurance Fund, in a deal to resolve a confrontation with WCC-DB.

She said that apparently Denkov did not make the decisions, someone else did: “Probably the Minister of Health, because at a leadership meeting last week, there was a clear agreement between Boiko Borissov, Hristo Ivanov and Assen Vassilev that we do not need more shake-ups in the administration, but it is important to work for the adoption of the state Budget and the constitution”.

Atanassova said that the GERB-UDF parliamentary group would only participate in the meetings that concern the adoption of the Budget and constitutional changes, but would not support any bill tabled by the Cabinet “until there is a real mechanism by which decisions are made”.

On December 5, a meeting of Parliament’s budget and finance committee to discuss the second reading of amendments to tax laws had to be called off after GERB-UDF MPs and their Movement for Rights and Freedoms allies absented themselves, denying the meeting a quorum.

The Health Ministry said that Dimitrov had been dismissed as a member of the board of directors of Pirogov, following an inspection by the ministry’s internal audit department and a 134-page report.

According to the ministry, during the inspection, violations were found, including of the Public Procurement Act.

The audit report had been submitted to the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office and the Finance Ministry, with a request for the State Financial Inspection Agency to carry out a financial audit, the ministry said.

Dimitrov has rejected the accusations and defended himself with financial results, according to which the hospital has covered its old obligations and even made a profit.

The December 5 announcement by GERB-UDF makes it unclear whether the National Assembly will have a quorum for its December 6 sitting. Parliament is expected to debate constitutional changes on December 8.

(Screenshot: GERB-UDF MPs Delyan Dobrev and Dessislava Atanassova)

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