The National Development Programme Bulgaria 2020, the measures in support of the economy, growth and employment, energy efficiency and diversification, the reforms in 2012. These were the main topics, which President Rossen Plevneliev highlighted in his address to the National Assembly.
He expressed his gratitude to the parliamentary political forces for the consultations conducted with him. With your support the Presidential institution has become a platform for ideas and solutions for 2012, noted the Head of State. We have proven that the parties can work together and think in one and the same direction, was his comment, then adding, that on certain important topics the parties have relinquished the political confrontation and have established non-partisan consensus.
Rossen Plevneliev noted that the priorities of Bulgaria 2020 Programme should be developed this year. This will take place after broad consultations and consensus in seeking guarantees for non-partisanship. The Strategy Bulgaria 2020 will be realistic and the Government will thus receive a trump to use both in developing the budget framework for the next year and in conducting the negotiations for the next EU budget period 2014 – 2020, is the opinion of Rossen Plevneliev. The political forces have identified the following priorities in the development of economy: promoting investment, raising of incomes, developing innovative policies. The expected economic growth for this year of 1,4 percent is rather low and this is one reason why, the President believes, SMEs should be assisted in obtaining fast and easy access to borrowing and export insuring.
Rossen Plevneliev pointed out that the predominant, commonly shared opinion is that urgent measures would be needed to overcome youth unemployment. For this purpose, he said, programmes for entrepreneurship should be launched, to help the young people start their own business and to facilitate the access of start-ups to affordable financing. I hope to see measures for overcoming youth unemployment included in Budget 2012, the Head of State noted.
The President also highlighted energy efficiency as a priority. Bulgaria is a European champion in wasting energy, he pointed out. Investment in energy efficiency will therefore be most needed and apart from creating tens of thousands of jobs, they make the cities much more attractive and reduce the bills citizens pay. He also pointed out that the implementation of the National Programme for Energy Efficiency will seek to yield results beneficial for all Bulgarians, not for just a group of people with influence in the energy sector. There exists consensus on the need to diversify the energy sources as well. We must not depend on a single source of energy and a single pipeline and we must speed up the process of construction of natural gas inter-connections with our neighbours, emphasized Rossen Plevneliev. In his opinion the decision made by the Government and confirmed by the Parliament to give up the plans for construction of NPP Belene is correct especially given the fact that neither financial support has been secured for this project, nor has market been identified for the export of electricity generated by it.
Rossen Plevneliev also outlined scientific research as a priority area and pointed out that new models of financing of innovations and scientific research were needed. Science must have ties with the market, the private companies must be encouraged to work with innovators and scholars, pointed out the Head of State. The President stated that the political consultations also included discussion on the reforms in national security, in the system of the judiciary, in the administration and the water sector. As for the Security sector, Rossen Plevneliev noted that the main objectives were to achieve higher efficiency and integrated approach. The judicial reform was specified as a priority by all political forces. We shall continue improving the system of administering of justice, but it is high time to see the results, was the comment of the Head of state. In his words, whether independence and efficiency have been achieved we will know from the deeds. Besides the Bill on forfeiture of illegally acquired property and the Penal Code, Rossen Plevneliev also emphasized the importance of the election of the SJC. It is of primary importance for the new SJC to enjoy wide public trust, with no suspicion of party bias when starting its work, was the comment of the Head of State, who then added that a guarantee for this would be the clear rules for election of new members. In his opinion the nominations should be announced early enough and public hearing of their concept should be held.
Rossen Plevneliev also observed that an in-depth debate on the Election Code and on the recommendations of the international organizations should be initiated, to prevent discrediting Bulgaria on these grounds. There shouldn’t be an iota of doubt that the next elections will be honest and fair, was his comment.
The President also touched upon the topic of Schengen and noted that the Government and the institutions had made a lot of efforts and that we were already approaching the solution. Let us wish ourselves a successful accession to the Schengen space in 2012, he stressed.
Rossen Plevneliev is of the opinion that the administrative reform can not be completed without E-government in place and he pointed out that it should be a priority of no less importance than high-ways. It would be a strong anti-corruption measure and would make the conditions in the country much more favourable for investment. He was sure that Bulgarians would regain their trust in the state when lining in front of the counter would be replaced by electronic services.
Another important sector that needs to be reformed is the water sector, stated the Head of State. The conclusion drawn from the talks with the parties is that the country needs a comprehensive strategy for this sector, became clear from the words of the President. However, he pointed out that the reorganization should not be an aim in itself, or should not be placed solely in the context of the disaster in the village of Biser. It should be aimed at creating conditions for attraction of investment for both the water sector and the energy sector.
I shall continue seeking direct interaction with the National Assembly, stated Rossen Plavneliev. In his opinion the political significance of this consensus is in the possibility for real, consistent and visible actions in the benefit of the society and citizens of the Republic of Bulgaria.
Chief Directorate National Police will merge the criminal and security police forces according to the amendments to the Law on the Ministry of Interior, adopted at first reading by the Parliament. This merging is in response to the need to complete the structural reform at the Ministry and it is aimed at improving the coordination at the level of chief directorates, especially in the area of security and criminal police, according to the representative of the CoM, which submitted the Bill.
The Bill introduces the standard of “absolute necessity” for the police forces to use firearms, physical force and technical aids. Police authorities shall be obliged to undertake all measures possible to protect the life and health of the persons against whom physical force and aids are used. A ban on the use of life-threatening force and use of firearms in detaining or in preventing the escape of a person committing or who has committed a violent offence, unless the persons is not a threat to the life and health of someone else. The Bill foresees the obligation for police officers to immediately terminate the use of arms after the legal aim is achieved. It introduces a rule that police operations must be planned in advance and controlled in the course of execution for the purpose of minimizing the risk for human life and health.
MoI has its representatives in the Inter-departmental Committee for export control and non-proliferation of armaments for mass destruction at the Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism, is a provision contained in the proposal for amendments to the Law. The Parliament adopted at first reading the Law on Export Control of Defence-related Products and Goods and Technologies with double use. The proposal for amendments was submitted by Atanass Atanassov (GERB parliamentary group) and a group of MPs. According to the proposal the objective of the Bill is to regulate the provision of sufficient information for the Ministry of Interior in connection with its control functions relating to the regime of actions with defence-related products, and goods with double use. The amendments proposed in the Bill will allow the Ministry of Interior to have full and summarized information on permits and certificates issued, extended, withdrawn in accordance with the order provided for by the law on the export control, is the opinion of the authors. Currently the Inter-departmental Committee consists of representatives of the Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Defence and SANS. In its report on the Bill the Parliamentary Economic Committee has pointed out that there are certain objections by the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism (MEET) against including the Ministry of Interior in the Committee. MEET points out that the Ministry of Interior participates in the licensing body – the Inter-departmental Council of Defence Industry and Security of Supplies at the Council of Ministers. The Economic Ministry also added that the established practice is to have representatives of the Ministry of Interior participating in the meetings of the Inter-departmental Committee in cases where the issues discussed are connected with their competences.