Bulgarian business associations reject widened law on assets disclosure

Bulgarian business associations reject widened law on assets disclosure

By Clive Leviev-Sawyer of The Sofia Globe

A number of Bulgarian business organisations have walked out of the country’s tripartite co-operation council – a body involving government, employers’ organisations and trade unions – after objecting to the scope of the law on disclosure of assets being widened to include them.

The law was amended among last-minute measures approved by Bulgaria’s 41st National Assembly just before it was dissolved in the run-up to ahead-of-term parliamentary elections on May 12.

Proposed by minority party leader Yane Yanev, the amendments require that members of business organisations and trade unions participating in the tripartite council disclose their assets in the same way required of public office-bearers. A deadline of April 9 2013 was set for disclosure.

The head of the Association of Industrial Capital, Vassil Velev, said that the amendments were adopted very quickly, without discussion, without even being discussed by a parliamentary committee at first reading, and the procedures violated the rules of Parliament and the constitution.

Velev said that the tripartite council was an advisory body, not a decision-making one, and businesses and unions did not receive subsidies from taxpayers. “We do not really know what the purposes of (the amendments) is,” he said.

The head of the Podkrepa trade union, Konstantin Trenchev, said that he did not see how the scheduled April 2 meeting of the tripartite co-operation council could make decisions if business organisations were not present.

However, local media quoted business organisations as saying that in spite of their objections to the assets disclosure law amendments, they would stand in the way of the move by the caretaker cabinet to reallocate 41 million leva (about 20.5 million euro) from infrastructure spending to provide one-off social assistance to certain categories of Bulgaria’s socially-vulnerable.

The one-off assistance is intended for families of children with disabilities, low-income mothers of children between one and two years old, people with low incomes but just above the threshold for assistance with winter heating, while about half the sum will go for subsidized employment measures, especially for young people.

Union federations said that they supported the measures but wanted to see them increased, for instance by increasing the minimum wage, and providing assistance to the “working poor” who have incomes of up to 350 leva, for example through food vouchers.

(Photo: © Clive Leviev-Sawyer)