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Bulgarian top officials given more time to return bonuses: Updated

Author: The Sofia Echo staff Date: Mon, Mar 05 2012 3228 Views
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Bulgaria's top officials who accepted bonuses have been given more time to return them, although it appears that all political office-bearers already have paid back the extra amounts of money given to them in the first half of 2011.

Earlier, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that anyone who did not refund the bonuses or donate them to children's charities would face dismissal. But on March 5, the message from the top ranks of the Government was that such refunds were voluntarily and no Cabinet minister or deputy minister would be fired over the bonuses issue.

Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov had been to present to the Cabinet on March 7 a list of any top officials who failed to meet the deadline for returning their bonuses or giving the money to children’s charities.

But on March 5, Tsvetanov said that returning the bonuses was voluntarily and there would be no changes to the Cabinet. He said that Borissov would make a full statement on the issue at the regular Cabinet meeting on March 7.
This has been the latest development in the drama that followed revelations that senior state officials took bonuses, in some cases running into several thousand leva.
Ministers, deputy ministers, chiefs of political cabinets, district governors and their deputies had until March 2 to report to Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov that they were repaying their bonuses or handing them over to charity.
A special account was opened at central Bulgarian National Bank for the repayment of bonuses.
When the list is presented to the Cabinet, it will become clear how much money has been distributed as bonuses to top officials in the past two years, Bulgarian National Television said on March 5.
Only some of the names of those who have returned their bonuses have emerged in public so far. They include Regional Development and Public Works Minister Liliana Pavlova and the regional governors of Pernik, Veliko Turnovo, Vidin and Kurdjali. Transport Minister Ivailo Moskovski was quoted in Bulgarian-language media reports on March 4 as having said bonuses that had been paid in his ministry had been returned.

Borissov's chief of staff, Roumyana Bacharova, said on March 5 that there were about 50 laws and regulations governing bonuses, put in place by previous governments. These rules made it difficult to pay bonuses to political office-bearers, she said. All bonuses that had been paid were in accordance with the law, according to Bacharova.

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