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National Assembly
of the Republic of Bulgaria
Parliament assigned the National Audit Office to conduct an audit of the State Agriculture Fund for the period January 1 - June 30, 2009
September 23, 2009

The National Assembly adopted at the sitting on September 23, 2009, a decision instructing the National Audit Office to audit the State Agriculture Fund for the period January 1 - June 30, 2009. The decision envisages the examination of the budget implementation and property management of the said Fund for the above period.

External auditors and oversight authorities discovered in 2008, numerous discrepancies and deficiencies in the the Fund’s management. As a result, the payments of grants under certain measures were terminated in full and it led as well to delays in the implementation of the contractual obligations of the SFA. These findings are contained in the proposal of MPs Martin Dimitrov, Mariana Darakchieva and Kircho Dimitrov.

According to them, one of the main reasons for the unprecedented suspension of money for beneficiaries is the existing inappropriate and inefficient system of financial management and control in the Fund. The decision requires the audit results to be summarized and reported to parliament by 20 December, 2009.

Parliament approved at first reading amendments to the Defense and Armed Forces Act. They provide the Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology to assume the powers of the closed Agency for Information Technology and Communications, related to the armed forces.

The Transport Minister, in consultation with the Minister of Defense, will organize and direct the building of postal and electronic communications networks to bring them into higher levels of preparedness so as to secure the military and the country with reliable communications in peace and in war time. The same minister will be empowered to organize the construction and maintenance of special facilities for defense needs and for the installations designed for war time already in place, and the creation of an electronic communications network and management units relating to the national security and defense of the country. He will be the one to define the conditions and procedures for the use of electronic communications networks and will provide the management of the electronic communications in cases like a declaration of higher levels of combat readiness of the armed forces, and declaration of martial law, or a state of war, or emergency.

The National Assembly adopted on first reading amendments to the law on postal services, which alter the approach to liberalization of the postal market. They are in compliance with the requirements established in the directives of the European Parliament. The texts stipulate precisely the functions and powers of the regulatory and law enforcement authorities in terms of liberalization of postal services, explains in the bill’s motives the Council of Ministers.

The passing of the bill will ensure the quality of the service and will reduce the existing barriers and free the entry of new operators, as well as will protect the interests of consumers, importers say. According to them the new rules will increase the efficiency of the Commission for Communications Regulation in regulating and controlling the market.

The National Assembly approved on first reading amendments to the E-Governance Act, under which the functions and activities in e-governance would be implemented by the administration of the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology.

The bill stipulates the powers of the former Minister of the state administration and administrative reform to be assumed by the Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology. The National Assembly approved on first reading the list of the acts of violations under the law, to be drawn up by officials appointed by the Minister of Transport. The acts imposing penalties will also be issued by him or by persons authorized by the Minister.

According to the amendments, the Minister of Transport will be entrusted to ensure integration of the national information systems with those of the European Union countries. With this change, the law seeks to create an opportunity for future supply of cross-border electronic government services.

Parliament adopted amendments to the Regional Development Act-related to changes in the structure of the present government. The texts of laws related to “regional development councils” imply the name change of the Ministries of Economy and Energy and Transport. The name “State Agency for Information Technologies and Communications” is deleted in the texts as it was closed down.

National Assembly instructed the National Audit Office to audit the budget and property management of the state company Management of Environmental Activities (PUDOOS) for the period 2005 – 2009. The deadline for submitting the report to the National Assembly was set to January 31, 2010. The opinion of the parliamentary Budget Committee on the issue, points that the enterprise has not been audited in the last seven years.

MPs approved at first reading a proposal by Stephen Gyuzelev, MP from PG GERB for change in to the Farmers Assistance Act. Gyuzelev proposal wants to introduce a legal option for refinancing commercial banks with funds from the SFA in order to provide loans to farmers who have signed a contract for the provision of financial assistance from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD). The amendments also opt for carrying out additional checks, through the National Revenue Agency, for accuracy and validity of the farmers claims for assistance, related to the support documents.

At the start of the plenary sitting, National Assembly Chair Tsetska Tsacheva broke the news about Bulgaria’s ambassador to France Irina Bokova’s nomination for the post Director-General of UNESCO. Tsetska Tsacheva stated that this represents a great recognition for the entire Bulgarian society, for all men and women of Bulgaria involved in politics.
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