The Center for the Study of Democracy, in cooperation with the Commission for the Prevention and Counteraction of Corruption (CPCC) of the Bulgarian government, organized a Round Table Monitoring of Anti-Corruption Reforms in Bulgaria on 30 January 2007. At the round table the CSD presented the System of Indicators for the Assessment of the Implementation of the Strategy for Transparent Governance and for Prevention and Counteraction of Corruption for the Period 2006-2008 and the Program for the Implementation of the Strategy for 2006. The System was developed by the CSD at the request of CPCC.
In his opening remarks, CSD Chairman Dr. Ognian Shentov pointed out that the focus of political and public attention will be shifting towards practical policies and the achievement of tangible accomplishments. Keynote speakers at the event were the Chairman of the CPCC and Minister of Interior, Mr. Roumen Petkov, Ms. Gudrun Steinacker, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany, and Mr. Alexander Karagiannis, Deputy Chief of Mission, Embassy of the United States.
Mr. Akexander Stoyanov, CSD Director of Research, presented the system of indicators for the government strategy and CSD Economic Program Coordinator, Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, presented the latest results of the diagnostics of corruption in the business sector - one of the indicators envisaged in the system - carried out in the framework of CSD’s Corruption Monitoring System.
At the discussion that followed, Mr. Bozhidar Danev, Chairman of the Bulgarian Industrial Association, outlined several spheres of sizeable corruption – public procurement, licensing and authorization procedures, EU funds distribution as well as tax payments, customs duties and excises. He believed it was inherent to the administration to pressure business in various ways, quoting findings from a BIA survey that the number of licensing, registration and authorization regimes actually applied far exceeds those officially found in state registries. He also cited data about certain violations in competition and tender procedures. Mr. Danev agreed that CSD’s corruption monitoring system needs to be combined with concrete studies of actual processes and that anticorruption efforts would benefit from public-private partnership.
Mr. Georgi Stoev, Managing Partner at Industry Watch, commended the methods for corruption measuring and assessment. He pointed out that from a macroeconomic perspective corruption was a setback to competition, economic growth and development. Concerning some particular economic sectors, the major reason that corruption should persist is that they have not been thoroughly privatized.
Mr. Stamen Tasev representing the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum referred to two recent trends giving evidence of illegal income from corruption: the disparity between declared income and actual consumption levels as well as a sharp rise of cash payments (which in 2005 increased by around 50% compared to 2004).
Overgas Executive Director Mr. Sasho Donchev underlined the importance of legislation analysis as part of the monitoring and assessment of anticorruption measures and suggested the feasibility of studying the outcomes of the application of laws and regulations. He stressed that corruption is nourished by substandard laws on the one hand, and undemocratic procedures in adopting secondary legislations on the other hand, giving as an example the Law on Energy Services and the regulations governing licensing tenders which put undue discretion in the hands of the State Energy Regulatory Commission. Mr. Donchev also maintained that corruption in the ranks of the judiciary was to blame for the fact that certain ill-famed groups in Bulgaria never lose a lawsuit at court. He warned against some emerging forms of political corruption where corruption pressure to get bribes is replaced by the granting of funding in exchange of project participation and other favors.
Mr. Fernando Ponz, First Secretary Political Affairs of the European Commission Representation in Bulgaria, emphasized that in view of the ongoing EU monitoring over Bulgaria in a number of key areas including corruption, the discussed system of indicators and other instruments remain of crucial significance.
Monitoring of Anti-Corruption Reforms in Bulgaria (Adobe PDF, 3 MB)
Media Coverage (in Bulgarian)