(DF) Caretaker Government Takes Office, Ministers Announce Plans

May 12 (BTA) – The caretaker government of Stefan Yanev took office on Wednesday, right after its composition and structure were officially presented by President Rumen Radev. “Transparent and responsible governance” was the most commonly used phrase in the new ministers’ comments upon assuming the positions of their predecessors from the Borissov Cabinet. Following is a takeaway from the caretaker ministers’ first comments: Interior Minister Boiko Rashkov: Fair, transparent elections and vote buying prevention will be the main priority for the Ministry of Interior. Vote buying distorts the political picture and undermines Bulgaria reputation. Measures will be taken, so that there are no reasons to challenge the results of the early elections. Another important task for MI will be to control the migration pressure that usually increases during the summer season. Education and Science Minister Nikolai Denkov: There will be no sudden policy changes. The interim government’s decisions will be transparent and promulgated. State matriculation and the national external assessment exams will be conducted as planned. No changes will be made at such short notice. The last four years have seen progress in all general areas under the Ministry’s wing: school and higher education, science. The outgoing team can be proud of their achievements in each of these fields. The Ministry’s priorities and team will be presented next week. Labour and Social Policy Minister Galab Donev: Our main priority will be to restore employment in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and improve the competitiveness of the labour force through expanding its skill set, so that the unemployed can find jobs faster. We will pay special attention to the most vulnerable groups that were hit the hardest by the pandemic. Funds will be earmarked for these people. The current practices that are working well will stay, and changes will be made where necessary. The people at the Ministry are good professionals, I have worked with them for years, and I trust them. Asked if the 50-leva monthly support for retirees will remain in place, he said it would become clear after he has been acquainted with the financial capacity of the Ministry. Donev’s predecessor, Denitsa Sacheva, handed him a folder containing information about all public procurements at the Ministry. She told him that all support measures for the people and the business are covered until the end of July, and the support for parents of children in distance learning is covered until the end of 2021. Finance Minister Asen Vassilev: It seems like the funds in the budget are quite adequate, but we have yet to look closely into that. Our main focus will be on the early elections, as well as supporting the people and the business, as they have been in a dire situation for over a year of financial, economic and, since recently, political crisis. The Ministry has covered the payment of all expenditures under the measures against the COVID-19 crisis, as well as pensions until the end of May, to be paid in June. Going forward, we will be looking for options to extend the measures with the current budget. Unfortunately, the opportunity to update the budget was missed, so we’ll have to do with the money available. The outgoing government could have done a small budget update, so that we wouldn’t have to restructure expenditures right now. I will rely heavily on the people at the Ministry, as they are known for their professionalism and expertise. Vassilev did not present his team, but said that his deputies will be appointed by the caretaker Prime Minister. Outgoing finance minister Kiril Ananiev said the budget has not been updated yet, “because we were waiting for a regular government to outline its goals and priorities, and we didn’t want to impose our own calculations on it”. In his opinion, the budget can hold for another two to three months until a regular cabinet is elected. He deplored the President’s remark Wednesday morning as he presented the caretaker government, that the country is financially troubled, and said that was not the case. Justice Minister Yanaki Stoilov: There are a few main groups of tasks on the agenda. One of them is improving the administration of the Ministry’s activities in the interest of the citizens and drafting an impact assessment of the application of certain laws. I believe there is a need for a comprehensive review of the performance, and especially the results, of the specialized judicial bodies in the last 10 or so years. Defence Minister Georgi Panayotov: We live in times of geopolitical tectonic movements. Such times call for strong armed forces. A strong State can only exist if it has strong armed forces. The capabilities of the Bulgarian armed forces must be developed and they must be modernized. The Bulgarian Armed Forces’ top capability is the military personnel, the generals, admirals, officers, sergeants, soldiers and civilians, and I am here to work with them on preparing the troops and [ensuring] the Ministry’s normal functioning. Exercises are currently in progress, new ones are coming up, both national and at NATO level, a NATO Summit is coming up, as well as preparations for pulling out the Bulgarian contingent from Afghanistan. There’s a lot of work ahead, although time is limited. LN/MT, MY /DT/