Caretaker Economy Minister Kiril Petkov Friday said that his ministry is preparing an alert to the prosecution service about a project for “a ministerial complex in Sofia Tech Park”.
Elaborated by the State Consolidation Company and Sofia Tech Park, the project envisages the construction of two office buildings for civil servants with a height of 75 m and 50 m, respectively, on a terrain of 2.48 ha on Sofia’s Tsarigradsko Chaussee Boulevard. Petkov was taking questions live on the Council of Ministers’ Facebook page as part of a new feature called The Power Speaks Openly, launched on Friday. Within this feature, cabinet members will answer questions asked by members of the public and the media live on: https://www.facebook.com/Government.of.Bulgaria.
According to Minister Petkov, the ministerial complex project should be stopped. “I cannot find a sound reason why this complex should be built at a time when we have so many priorities for our finances that should be economically and socially beneficial. Why should we choose to invest 190 million leva in a skyscraper in Sofia Tech Park – that sounds like a crazy idea to me,” Petkov commented. The plan to build a skyscraper for civil servants in Sofia Tech Park became known several months ago at towards the end of Boyko Borissov’s third cabinet.
The State Oil Company Asked about the State Oil Company set up in 2020 through government-sponsored amendments to the State Reserve and Wartime Stocks Act, Minister Petkov said that during his nine weeks in office, he failed to understand why this company should exist. In his words, if the caretaker government had a longer term in office, he would have closed the State Oil Company. Also, he would have conducted an overall revision of the State Reserve so as to open it on a much more competitive principle, with more participants.
The State Oil Company was planned to maintain fuel reserves in the State Reserve that would be renewed at a certain period of time and would allow the State to compete with private companies on the market. According to Petkov, at present the State Reserve is not working in an optimal manner. “In my opinion, certain money is going down the drain,” he commented. In his words, the competition on the market for these fuel reserves is very small because there are only two or three companies participating. “I see no reason to set up a new State-owned company in order to solve our problem with the State Reserve,” he said.
The Global Magnitsky Act Answering a question about the US sanctions imposed on Bulgarian individuals and companies last month under the Global Magnitsky Act, Petkov said that these sanctions have had a positive effect, despite dealing a blow to Bulgaria’s reputation, in that “we had to hear it from outside” that “we cannot handle our own problems with corruption”.
On June 2, the US Department of the Treasury reported that its Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned three Bulgarian individuals for their extensive roles in corruption in Bulgaria, as well as their networks encompassing 64 entities. The sanctions ban the persons from entering the USA, and block their companies and bank accounts there.
According to the Economy Minister, foreign investors from Europe and the US have commented that what happened under the Global Magnitsky Act is the tipping point of the corruption model and shows a new direction for Bulgaria’s development, because in their view, the country’s economic indices are perfect but the high risk of corruption has curbed their intentions to invest here.