|A working meeting on “Smuggling and Corruption” was held at the Center for the Study of Democracy on November 12, 1999. Officers from the National Investigation Service, representatives of Coalition 2000, NGO experts, and journalists conducting investigations in that field attended the meeting. The participants discussed the paper of Yovo Nikolov, journalist from Kaptial Weekly, on “Smuggling channels and corrupt practices in Bulgaria”. Vesselin Minchev from the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and Krassimir Dobrev, journalist from “Sega Daily”, presented co-reports on “Suitcase-trade” in Bulgaria” and “Corruption and customs”, respectively.
During the discussion of Mr. Nikolov’s paper the participants systematized most of the smuggling schemes and connections between the illegal import/export and state administration on the borders and inside the country, as well as the main types of damage smuggling causes to our economy. The participants focused on the activities aimed towards cutting off smuggling in the Customs. They expressed the opinion that to this end cooperation among the security services, the National Service for Combating Organized Crime, and the Central Investigation Office, as well as coordinating activities at an international level would be necessary. The experts discussed the seasonal migration and the illegal immigration of Bulgarian citizens, as well as the “suitcase trade” as an informal sector of our economy with long-term consequences due to the large number of people involved in it. An important part of controlling smuggling is the introduction of an “econometric monitoring system” modeled upon the so-called mirror statistics that could be instrumental in the periodic evaluation of its approximate values.
The necessity of undertaking specific measures for fighting smuggling motivated the establishment of a Task Force on the problems of smuggling and corruption within the framework of the Coalition 2000 initiative, in which representatives of the Customs and the National Service for Combating Organized Crime will be included. Its activities will be directed towards the development of a program for counteracting corruption both at a national and international level.