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Corruption Tops the List of Public Concerns
This year for the first time in the last decade Bulgarians identify corruption as the main problem the country is facing. The most recent data presented by the Center for the Study of Democracy in the report Anti-Corruption Reforms in Bulgaria: Key Results and Risks and Corruption in Public Procurement: Risks and Reform Policies point out several important trends in corruption manifestation.

Corruption in Bulgaria is similar to many Central European countries. According to a number of international indexes, corruption in Bulgaria stands at a level comparable to that of EU Members such as Italy, Slovakia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the Czech Republic or with particular indicators even lower than Greece, Poland, and Romania. It is especially important that reduced corruption in Bulgaria has been achieved in a context of a lower level of economic development compared to any EU country which is an indication of highly intensive anti-corruption efforts. Notwithstanding positive developments however rates of corruption remain high and are still above EU average.

In terms of predominant corruption schemes administrative graft decreases which cannot be said for political corruption. The country criminal policy is still not effective against corruption, unlike for other crimes and a number of corruption practices remain unrevealed. More than 60% of the corruption lawsuits do not even go to court and end up at the stage of pre-trial proceedings without any result, and only one quarter of the instituted preliminary proceedings end up with a sentence. Neither harsher restrictions to prevent conflicts of interest and personal enrichment through public office, nor stricter sanctions for breaches of official duty, including removal from office, have been introduced.

Corruption in public procurement is one of the gravest problems in terms of fiscal loss. CSD experts evaluate that corruption in public procurement in 2006 alone accounts for a loss of 1,2 billion levs– an amount, commensurate with the expected annual receipts from the EU funds in the next 2-3 years. This calls for better control in all stages of the public procurement procedure. Thus, having in mind the new developments regarding corruption in Bulgaria, it can be concluded that the new challenges are to shift the efforts to correcting the structural and institutional deficiencies that breed corruption.

For more information:

Ninth Annual Anticorruption Policy Forum, 23 April 2007
Anti-Corruption Reforms in Bulgaria: Key Results and Risks
Corruption in Public Procurement: Risks and Reform Policies
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