Bulgarian Premier Orders Ministers to Return Bonus Payments

Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov ordered his ministers to return all bonus payments they have received since taking office in 2009 or be fired, in a move that follows criticism from opposition politicians.

All Cabinet ministers and their deputies must return the bonus payments or transfer them for charity by March 2 or they will be dismissed, Borissov told reporters in Sofia today. The motion came after the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms requested Borissov to declare the total amount of bonuses paid out by all government institutions.

“I plan to declare on Friday that there are no bonus payments disbursed by the Cabinet,” Borissov said. “Anyone who doesn’t comply with that, will no longer be part of the Cabinet.”

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 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.

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

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