MAYORS DEMAND SANCTIONS AGAINST THREE MINISTERS
One of the proposals, moved during the week by the National Association of Municipalities to central power, is that the Health Minister Bozhidar Finkov, the Social Minister Lidiya Shouleva, and the Minister of Education Vladimir Atanassov, should be sanctioned if they do not make by June 30, 2002 the lay-offs imposed by the budget in the local structures, subordinated to the three ministries.Due to the projected lay-offs the State reduced the municipalities' finances by BGN45.9MN when the 2002 budget was approved. This amount will be lacking in the local budgets after June 30 and the mayors will not be able to pay to doctors, teachers, and social services. At the same time, the mechanism and scheme for a reduction in the budget structures have not been worked out and proposed, mayors complain. Therefore, they want from the Finance Ministry to increase every month the projected budgets of the municipalities (which is the basis for determining their financial relations with the republican budget) by 1/12 of the finances for the non-effected lay-offs of the personnel in the structures, subordinated to Mr. Finkov, Ms. Shouleva, and Mr. Atanassov.The municipalities are financially trapped this year. They are still under the burden of the overdue BGN124.3MN for last year, transferred to their liabilities for 2002. BGN77.2MN, or 62% of this amount, are expenses for the local education, health care, fuel, and electricity. The balance of BGN47.1MN has been accrued from purely local commitments, the mayors admit. Nevertheless, these debts are within the municipal budgets and worsen further their financial state. At a meeting on Tuesday (March 5) the National Association of Municipalities discussed with the Finance Minister Milen Velchev the way last year's liabilities would be settled and when this should be done. The mayors have proposed that the central government should effect its payments to the local municipalities in four tranches. The first term in this schedule expires in mid-April. Till then the Finance Ministry is to cover half of the above-mentioned BGN77.2MN. According to the mayors, this could be effected by taking money from the overfulfilment of tax proceeds into the republican budget.The other half of this amount should be paid by June 30. BGN47.1MN is to be found by September 30 to settle the overdues from municipal activities. The fourth tranche of BGN82MN is demanded from the Ministry of Finance by November 30. This is the amount of proved financial deficit in the municipal budgets for 2002 from unsecured costs for state activities. The Government officially acknowledged this deficit during its negotiations with the National Association of Municipalities in the end of 2001.