Банкеръ Weekly


State Administration and Bureaucracy in Bulgaria Grows

The state administration in Bulgaria is full of parasitic structures. Thousands officials receive salaries without doing much, and both citizens and businesses are burdened by an avalanche of bureaucratic thoughtlessness. Perhaps many will say that it has long been known that the inefficiency of local institutions is proverbial and that white-collar clerks do think they are omnipotent, etc., but this would be wrong. The reality is even more shocking and outrageous than it is presented.

If in 1996 the country had 55 administration units at central level, in 2013 they were already 114. This comes despite the fact that yet from the time when Nikolay Vassilev was Minister of Public Administration, we have been hearing the infinite story how the number of officials declines by 5, or by 10 percent. For so many years the state had to keep only a handful of institutions, and now they are doubled in numbers. Swarming of institutions entails a duplication and overlapping of functions and hampers coordination and implementation of policies, but - before all - it creates

additional expenditure of public resources

Maybe we should not be surprised that controls e.g. on employment activities is assigned to the functions of 14 executive authorities, and the compliance with a single provision of the Wine and Spirits Act ten administrative units are simultaneously involved.

Another absurdity is strictly documented in the Strategy for the Development of Public Administration. The richer the legal framework gets, the more chaos is produced. Before 1998 the legal system of Bulgaria had 250 senior legal acts - i.e. law. As of 2013, however, their number is 346. In practical, for fifteen years 100 new laws have been accepted. This amounts to a stunning labour productivity of the legislator.

Beyond the legislative, the executive power has also actively been using its normative powers and has produced numerous regulations such as rules, regulations, instructions... Their total number is now 2,950. But the major problem is not the number, but the frequent changes of laws. This creates significant barriers for citizens, entrepreneurs and foreign investors. Bulgaria for many years has been standing at the bottom of the world rankings for transparency and predictability of regulations and more than half of the company managers said in interviews for the World Bank that in Bulgaria the laws are more often than not applied inconsistently and unpredictably.

Frequent changes in the law create problems even for the very administration that is more committed to the preparation of amendments rather than to the application of these amendments. Continuous adjustments in regulations create serious difficulties in the judicial system and prevent the establishment of a stable jurisprudence.

The implementation of legislation shows just

another paradox

in the functioning of the country's public administration. Today Bulgarian legal system uses over 60 codices and laws which spell out enforcement administrative measures as a means of exercising control by a number of authorities in the field of finance, healthcare, environment, public policy, energy, transport, labour and others. According to the latest report, the number of administration officials authorized to issue acts to offenders is impressive - 32,327 people. Administrative sanctioning bodies are 3,241. The whole army, however, drew a modest 503,821 acts of administrative violations per year. Or each one official in power to do that has issued only 16 such acts for an entire 12 months. In other words, this is 1.3 acts per month! Moreover, in 623 of the cases, six months after the establishment of the misdeed a penal procedure has not been triggered. Surely thus someone managed to get out of paying fines. There are no data on whether somebody has punished employees who have allowed the expiration of the penal procedure period. In 8,694 other cases the sanctioning body did not trigger a penal procedure because it had taken the offences for 'minor' ones. However, there are no objective criteria for applying the principle of which offences are minor and which are not. So some individual cases might have been solved privately.

Champions in idleness

are undisputedly the regional governors who have the power to participate in the administrative proceedings in the implementation of 14 laws. It seems incredible, but taking advantage of this function, all the country's 28 governor issued for one year just 11 acts. Judging only on those results, Bulgaria should be a heavenly country where no one violates the law. Otherwise, in the corruption ranking of Transparency International in 2013 Bulgaria occupied the world's 77-th place.

Completely inadequate is the administration work on alerts, complaints and suggestions coming from citizens and businesses that annually exceed 30,000. In practice, there is no legal means to force officials to respond to them, without the need for court intervention. The situation is similar to the reactions of critical publications in the mass media. Meanwhile, no sanctions are imposed for acts or omissions of employees, which harm or are in prejudice to the rights of the people. And, as we know, this leads to the payment of substantial sums in lost cases by the state.

There is another curious Bulgarian phenomenon. In the country there are about 550 strategic documents, of which 210 are at the national level. Eighty-seven of these are created in the period from 2010 up until 2013. This of course does not mean that the country will be ruled on the basis of documents with long-term vision, as it should be, but just reveals the exceptionally weak coordination in preparing these documents. The truth is that the institutions have not established mechanisms for joint implementation of strategic goals and often develop projects and initiatives that are not always aligned with the common strategic framework.


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