President Radev Calls for Return to Normal Life the Soonest Possible, PM Borissov Said he will Pull GERB out of Parliament If the President Vetoes the State of Emergency

Reacting to the government’s proposal to extend the national emergency by another month, President Rumen Radev said in a statement Friday that the government should tell people what the effect has been of the first month in a state of emergency and reiterated that return to normal life the soonest possible should be a national objective.

“We should set ourselves a clear national objective: that we must return to a relatively normal life, production and free movement of people and goods in the quickest  possible controlled and safe manner.”

The government seeks to prolong to May 13 the state of emergency declared on March 13. Radev said the Government owes the public convincing information about the effect of the first month of the state of emergency. Governance decisions should be made on the basis of reliable comprehensive data. While the lockdown slows the infection rate, it has paralysed society and triggered an unprecedented social and economic crisis, said the head of State.

“Penury is not an escape from the virus. Hunger may soon overcome fear and the consequences may be more destructive than

the coronavirus itself,” the President said, the BTA reported.

The healthcare system, together with the other socially important systems, should opt for a more flexible strategy for fighting the coronavirus and should considerably expand the scope of testing. The focus on the coronavirus should not hamper access to healthcare for people with chronic conditions and emergency cases, which puts at risk the life of thousands of Bulgarians, according to Radev. The President stressed that some measures envisaged in the state of emergency law and the subsequent Council of Ministers’ decrees are viewed by the public and businesses as insufficient or even as ill-considered. People need help, not an offer of a loan. The economic measures will not help out the key segment – small and medium-sized businesses, and the “60/40” formula is practically infeasible, according to Radev. Certain provisions of the law, which was adopted hastily and amid chaos, block the economic life and should be revised urgently, the President said. Radev noted that the Government is resorting to a loan of up to 10 billion leva before tapping the budget reserves and rethinking its priorities. He said: “This is an onerous decision for which we will have to pay for years ahead. We expect guarantees for transparency and clear plans for financial support to all affected.”

The President stressed that “along with all problems and troubles, the crisis highlighted the need for the State to be a pillar of stability and brought us back the sense of solidarity”.

Reacting to the President’s statement, Prime Minister Boyko Borissov told reporters in the southern town of Smolyan: “If the President believes the state of emergency [in Bulgaria] is different to what is being done worldwide, he can veto it, then I will pull GERB out of Parliament [so the veto can go through] and leave the people without a lockdown to perish.”

Social isolation is the only recognized practice amid the COVID-19 pandemic, said Borissov. The European Commission approved the “60/40” formula for support for business and hundreds of Bulgarian companies have already applied, he said in response to the President’s criticism. Borissov, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev and Gen. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski, head of the national coronavirus task force, visited Arexim Engineering based in Smolyan. The company has started making goggles and face shields for the front-line health workers and other specialists. Its output could reach 200,000 items per month.

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