The composition of the Commission for Protection of Competition shall be increased by two members - from five to seven, according to amendments of the Law on the Protection of Competition adopted on first reading. The reasoning of the amendments submitted by Valentin Nikolov from GERB and a group of M.P.s includes the increased bulk and complexity of correspondence files in the field of competition, public procurement and concessions as well as the shortened timeframe for the Commission to rule on the cases. The new members shall be elected by the National Assembly for a period coinciding with the end of the current members term. Last year the composition of the Commission for Protection of Competition was cut from 7 to 5 members with a view of reducing the burden on the budget.
The National Assembly adopted on first reading amendments to the Public Procurement Act introducing direct awarding of public procurement contracts to companies linked to the contracting authorities, territorial government bodies. These provisions shall be applicable only to public utilities contracts. The paid publications in the State Gazette shall drop out. The powers of the Public Procurement Agency are also amended, more specifically the one related to the exceptions of the right to appeal which leads to unnecessary elongation of the timeframe for appealing from 10 days to the deadline for filing offers, according to the arguments of the Council of Ministers, which submitted the proposal for amendments. Reliefs were introduced in the procedure for public procurement contracts candidates in the construction sector. Meanwhile, an exception of the regulations provides for contracting procedures without public announcement in the case of contracts on delivery of natural gas, heating and electric power and potable water by companies enjoying exclusive rights, as well as for procedural defense contracts. The adopted amendments aim at overcoming certain gaps in the regulations reflecting the shortfalls established in practice. The range of persons entitled to filing appeals against procedure launching decisions or their alteration is also extended. An entirely new model of ex-ante control by the Public Procurement Agency is proposed to be carried out in two phases – prior to and after the announcement for launching a public procurement procedure is published. The obligation to maintain a list of contractors with whom the Public Financial Control Inspection has established violations in the disbursement of funds under EU programs is dropped out. The reasoning of the proposed amendments includes better control of public procurement contracts awarding and curtailing the cases of breach and mistakes, on the one hand, and on the other hand clearer and more simple texts that would reduce the bureaucratic load on both contracting authorities and participants in the procedure.
According to the amendments to the Public Financial Inspection Act adopted by the Members of Parliament on second reading, the director of the Public Financial Inspection Agency (PFIA) shall approve an annual financial inspections plan for awarding and delivery of public procurement. The proposal submitted by the Council of Ministers provides for expanding the scope of the Agency’s control. By virtue of the current legal framework, the inspection activities of PFIA are not subject to planning and financial inspection is carried out following a request by bodies external to the Agency. According to the amendments adopted today the annual financial inspections plan shall be drafted on the basis of public procurement awarding and implementation analysis and risk factors assessment. The parliament has further decided that upon a written request by the PFIA director, the National Audit Office shall submit information on public procurement contracting authorities for the relevant year. The Agency director or authorized persons shall inform the public on the PFIA activities and the results of the financial inspections after their completion.
Settlement or manipulation of sport competition results and illegal betting were incriminated by amendments to the Criminal Code adopted by the National Assembly on second reading. A new chapter 8a “Crimes against Sport” was introduced. M.P. Ognyan Stoichkov, one of the authors of the motion underscored that the amendments were also related to the notorious Internet betting. The new provisions envisage one to six years of imprisonment and a fine to the amount of BGN 1 000 to 10 000 for a person who by force, intimidation, deception or any other way persuades somebody else to influence or manipulate the outcome of a sport event. The sanction for offering financial benefits against influencing the development or outcome of a sports competition is a fine ranging between BGN 5 000 and 15 000 and 1 to 6 years of imprisonment. A sanction of three years of imprisonment and a fine of BGN 5 000 is envisaged for the go betweens in settling the outcome of sport competitions and illegal betting. For illegal gambling arrangement the law stipulates for up to 6 years of imprisonment and a fine between BGN 1 000 and 10 000. Furthermore the M.P.s adopted a provision for 1 to 8 years of imprisonment and BGN 2 000 to 5 000 fine upon dangerous recurrence of the criminal act. Up to 3 years of imprisonment or probation is envisaged upon violation of the ban to attend sport events in the country and abroad. Prior to the enforcement of that sanction the offender should have been sanctioned for the same violation by an administrative penalty. The parliament further adopted amendments to the Gambling Act providing for a sanction to the amount of BGN 20 000 to 50 000 to be imposed on a legal entity or a sole trader organizing or carrying out gambling events without a permit.
The National Assembly also adopted on first reading amendments to the Law for the Protection of Competition.