DEPUTY PREMIER PASKALEV HANDED IN HIS RESIGNATION
The Deputy Premier and Minister of Regional Development and Public Works Kostadin Paskalev handed in his resignation on Thursday (October 31), the BANKER weekly learned. According to informed sources, one of the reasons for Mr. Paskalev's withdrawal from the Government is his reluctance to participate in the beginning war between institutions and more specifically that between Premier Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha's foreign-policy team (in the persons of Foreign Minister Solomon Passy and the Minister of Eurointegration Meglena Kuneva) and the Head of State Georgi Purvanov.The second reason for Mr. Paskalev's resignation, according to the BANKER's sources, is the sharp conflict due to the drastically cut budget of the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works. Only BGN8MN (as compared to BGN72MN for 2002) has been projected for the ministry in the 2003 draft budget.The third reason for which Mr. Paskalev left the incumbent Government is the Cabinet's refusal to accept his proposal for launching concrete projects, for which financing from the European Union (EU) has been ensured. The scandal broke out when the Government approved the projects of the Minister of Labour and Social Policy Lidiya Shuleva. These projects, as people ironically comment, have a lot of merits and only one defect - they won't be financed by the EU as they have not been coordinated with it.It is claimed that PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha learned about the Vice Premier's resignation after his departure to Athens on Thursday morning. He is said to have called from the Greek capital to one of his ministers, asking him to try to persuade Mr. Paskalev to withdraw his resignation. During that conversation the PM said he would not relieve the Deputy Premier of his duties on any condition, whatever that might mean. Those who watched bTV last Sunday heard what Mr. Paskalev said to Ivo Indjev, the MP from Coalition for Bulgaria Rumen Petkov commenetd for the BANKER. Then Mr. Paskalev explicitely said he joined the Government on his own decision and personal conviction, and would therefore leave it at his own discretion. Kostadin Paskalev is a man with dignity and a very responsible person, who is not inclined to participate in political games, Mr. Petkov added.