Банкеръ Weekly


Does Parliament Conceal a Conflict of Interests?

Unmitigated conflicts of interests and hidden piles of facts have been characteristic for years of the Transition in Bulgaria since the fall of the Berlin Wall, but this apparently has been considered normal and unimpressive to anyone. Even if found, such a violation it has led to no consequences. We have never heard of anybody convicted? All regulations, laws and committees to identify and prevent conflicts of interests are just like a cobweb, which catch only small insects, while larger birds can easily pass through it unhindered.

The numerous statements to the Supreme Auditing Office and other institutions that senior statesmen have to fill in, are there just for a facade - they seldom contain the whole truth, because there is no penalty for ignoring the rules. What is worse is that the responsible authorities stubbornly refuse to respond to public conflicts of interests and undeclared circumstances, relying that scandals will subside and everything can continue as usual. That's what happens with some irregularities with members of the Advisory Council to the Supreme Auditing Office appointed by parliament that the BANKER weekly reported about at the end of September. Despite persistent demands for explanations for a second month now the leadership of the National Assembly has refused to comment on the issue of conflict of interest in several of the new members there are seen to be entangled. Margarita Nikolova, for example is currently a member of both the Advisory Council to the national auditor and an MP of the Ataka party.

According to the National Audit Office Act (Article 22, paragraph 7), members of the Advisory Board may not be persons related within the meaning of the Law on Prevention and Disclosure of Conflict of Interests. As an MP, however, Mrs Nikolova is such a person. However, she has not taken any action to remove the incompatibility and has not declared publicly that circumstances have changed after her election to Parliament in the spring this year. So, given the functions and powers of the Advisory Board, this might affect her indirectly on any checks related to the party she is member of. She could exert pressure on other inspections of the Office, relating to the Bulgarian National Television, for example, where she had been CFO until her election to Parliament. We should not forget that audits are made also ??for past periods and Nikolova was a top official in the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works (from 2009 until 2010), the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (2007-2009) and the National Agency for Fisheries and Aquaculture (2006-2007).

Parliamentary Chair Mihail Mihov leaves unanswered the question of how the Executive Director of the Public Procurement Agency Miglena Pavlova combines her job with the membership of the Advisory Council, which is also a violation of Article 22, paragraph 7 of the Law on the Supreme Audit Office. There is also a conflict of interests here, since Miglena Pavlovarquote s institution is subject to audits, which incidentally has not been conducted since 2006 onwards.


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