Municipality of Gabrovo is taking actions to increase accountability and dialogue with citizens

TI Bulgaria met with Mrs. Tanya Hristova – the Mayor of Gabrovo and Mrs. Polina Tihova the Secretary General as well as Mrs. Radostina Kozhuharova Legal Expert of the Municipality. As a key topic of the meeting were the results of the municipality and civil society sector for Gabrovo for 2023.

TI-Bulgaria is providing support for the implementation of internal mechanisms for protection of whistleblowers and capacity building  of the administration in their activities with citizens.


Transparency International Bulgaria launched a series of anti-corruption initiatives in Varna

The the series of anti-corruption initiatives in the Regional Administration of Varna began with a discussion led by the Executive Director of Transparency International Bulgaria Mr. Kalin Slavov.

Bulgarian business will have to introduce the principles of good governance, Mr. Slavov was adamant. According to him, external factors will enforce this, including the need to obtain loans and take out insurance. Financial institutions, most of which are part of large international structures, are already implementing the principles of business integrity in relation to their own activities.

This applies both to social responsibility and commitments to the environment, as well as to internal rules for good corporate governance. A basic principle of business integrity is that the internal requirements introduced by companies are transferred to their partners, customers and subcontractors.

The focus of the discussion was on those anti-corruption measures with which municipalities can put in order the organizational culture of the structures they manage. In order to ensure good governance based on clearly defined rules of action, including anti-corruption measures at all levels of the administration, joint actions are needed between the main “players” in the public space, namely public institutions, business, civil society and the media.

The most difficult and slow to change is the organizational environment in public institutions, which need transparency and accountability in all directions – from public procurement to accessible information on websites. There were many questions discussed about the implementation of the Law on the Protection of Person who Report or Publicly Disclose Information on Breaches.

Within the framework of the discussion, the standards for corruption management were presented, which require the application of a certain approach to controlling risks. Along with the regulatory clarifications on the protection of persons who report violations of Bulgarian legislation, which became known to them during or on the occasion of the performance of their work or official duties, or in another working context, the participants in the meeting received guidance on the development of the internal rules, which spell out each step from the submission, through the verification of the signal, the internal investigation and its resuls and the analysis if any adjustments or changes are required in a certain activity or internal rules of the public administration to prevent further breaches.

The Bulgarian anti-corruption legal framework is very good, the question is in the human, in the management factor, said the Executive Director of Transparency International Bulgaria in Varna.

A European directive is being prepared in the field of synchronization of anti-corruption legislation in the EU, but it does not seem to have any serious implications for Bulgarian legislation. According to him, the issue in our country is the implementation of the legal instruments, and the fact that the organizational environment is the most difficult to change.

Mr. Slavov recalled that the results of the Local Integrity System Index 2023 show that among the best examples and leaders in the ranking in our country are the municipalities of Burgas and Ruse. He explained that there are standards available that public institutions can use while developing and implementing their internal control systems. The Executive Director of the Association added that it is not enough to comply only with the letter of the law, but to build on it in order to achieve greater transparency and accountability. As an example, he gave public procurement, where municipalities comply with the requirements of the regulatory framework, but no discussions are held with citizens in order to achieve shared responsibility.

At the end of the meeting, prof. Andreeva called on municipalities, citizens and companies to also be active and propose specific anti-corruption measures.


The Municipal Council in Varna and its live broadcasts

Amendments to the Local Self-Government and Local Administration Act have introduced mandatory broadcasting of plenary sessions of municipal councils in the country.

The local parliament in Varna is already implementing a good practice designed both to facilitate the work of municipal councilors and to make the work of the council even more transparent. This was recognized during a meeting of Transparency International Bulgaria’s team with the Chairman of the Municipal Council in Varna – Mr. Hristo Dimitrov.

On a large screen in the plenary hall, all draft decisions, the course of speeches, the votes and decisions already taken can be followed. If needed for the session, documentation on the discussed case and even the necessary legislation on the topic appears on the screen. The same practice applies to the meetings of the standing committees of the Municipal Council. Thus, every citizen who watches the meeting online – live and recorded – can clearly understand what is being discussed and decided upon.

This good practice of the Varna Municipal Council will be included in the Handbook of Good Practices that Transparency International Bulgaria is preparing based on the LISI study

The Executive Director of the Association, Mr. Kalin Slavov, provided Prof. Dimitrov, with a list of weaknesses identified through the study in the work of the Municipal Council in Varna and recommendations how to resolve the gaps and further improve the work. He recognized the important changes the hosts have already done introducing the good practices recommended by Transparency International Bulgaria in previous editions of the Index.

Some of the current recommendations for the municipal council include:

  • the creation of a public council tasked to make regular monthly reports on the work of the mayor’s administration and the municipal council.
  • Introduction of a mechanism, regulations and sanctions to ensure the effective participation of citizens in its work.
  • introduction of a mechanism through which the business can be involved in the work of the local parliament in order to make proposals and decisions that will ensure a favorable business climate in the city.

Improving the access and visibility of the website and publicity in the work of the Municipal Council.

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