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Bulgarian Government Ministers Return Bonuses to Keep Jobs

Bulgarian ministers, their deputies and regional governors returned about 604,000 lev ($406,000) in bonus payments received since they took office in 2009 to keep their jobs.

The funds will be transferred to charity, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov told reporters in Sofia today. He ordered the ministers last week to return the bonuses or be fired, after the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms requested Borissov declare the total amount of bonuses paid out by all government institutions.

“I can declare that everyone who is in office now has returned their bonuses,” Borissov said. “When we came to power we pledged to cut administration spending and eliminate extra payments. I dare members of previous governments to transfer their lucrative bonuses for charity.”

Bulgaria weathered the global crisis without an international bailout. The European Union’s poorest nation in terms of per-capita economic output wants to narrow this year’s budget deficit to 1.35 percent of gross domestic product to contain the effect of the euro area’s sovereign-debt crisis.

Borissov’s minority government kept taxes unchanged at the lowest level in the 27-nation bloc and froze public-sector wages in 2010, which ministers and heads of state agencies circumvented by distributing end-year bonuses to their employees. The bonuses ranged from one to more than 20 monthly salaries.

Borrowed Funds

Some of the officials had to borrow funds to return the bonuses, Presa newspaper reported today, citing unidentified people. Some lower-level officials, including an Environment Ministry cabinet chief, haven’t transfered their bonuses to the special account set by the Finance Ministry and will be dismissed, Borissov said.

The manager of the National Health Insurance Fund, Nely Nesheva, and the head of the National Registry Office, Violeta Nikolova, were forced to resign last month after paying out bonuses to themselves and their deputies.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Konstantinova in Sofia at ekonstantino@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: James M. Gomez at jagomez@bloomberg.net

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