Forth year in a row, the Regional Office of Friedrich Naumann Foundation for East and Southeast Europe (FNF SEE), together with a group of Bulgarian investigative journalists, gathered examples of abuse of public money – both of the Bulgarian and European taxpayer. The Black Book of Government Waste 2018 was officially presented by Dr Rainer Adam, Regional Director of FNF SEE, during a dedicated event held on January 16th, 2019.
The book consists of 15 articles, which explore in detail cases of irresponsible and ineffective waste of public funds.
The aim of the Black Book is not to be exhaustive, but to urge citizens to demand greater transparency and accountability for the money they pay to the state in the form of various taxes and contributions.
By shading light on number of concrete and easy to understand cases of misusing public funds, the Black Book is both promoting active citizenship and putting more pressure on government officials to limit such practices.
In the 2018 edition of the book, there are investigations concerning the never ending project for nuclear power plant in Belene, the failure of the forth biggest bank (Corpbank) in Bulgaria, misuse of funds in the Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Interior, and also troubling examples from the Bulgarian Railway Company and State Consolidation Company. There are also quite a few cases on local level in the municipalities of Varna, Plovdiv, Lovech, Sevlievo, Vraca, Blagoevgrad, and Rudozem.
The foreword of the Black Book 2018 was written by Georgi Ganev, an economist from Centre for Liberal Strategies. Mr Ganev focused on the missed opportunities for the society to live better as a result of incompetent managing of public funds. Ganev concludes that there are examples of “purposeful plunder of taxpayers’ money, so that they can be channelled to concrete beneficiaries”. Crony capitalism at its finest.
Doroteya Dachkova, a journalist from SEGA newspaper, is the author of the leading story in the Black Book, concerning the problems of the judiciary. Dachkova notes that some of the most spectacular arrests in Bulgaria, during the time of the former Minister of Interior Tsvetan Tsvetanov, are now costing the taxpayers up to BGN 1,5 million. This is the direct cost of the court cases against Bulgaria for violation of citizen’s rights in those famous cases.
The current hot topic of military spending on modernization of the army is also covered in the Black Book by Georgi Angelov, a journalist from Dnevnik.bg. Angelov explained during the event that while hundreds of millions of BGN are given for new capital expenditures in the army, most of the helicopters are actually on the ground for a long time, because of bad management and BGN 5 million, which should be paid on various contracts. This is a classic example of careless and bureaucratic management of public funds.
Bulgarian Railway Company (BRC) is mentioned in every issue of the Black Book. This year, Svetoslav Malinov, a journalist from ofnews.bg, is describing in great detail the decline of BRC. Malinov points out that the existence of BRC comes for a price of BGN 500 million per year for the Bulgarian taxpayer.
Bad management and unmotivated personnel are traditionally the main problem of the national railways. The shortcomings of the management are clearly visible in the public procurements.
The Black Book is also famous for giving concrete examples for misuse of public funds on local level. Local stories are coming from investigative journalists, some of whom decided not to disclose their names in the book. As usual, those local cases often include abuse of EU money.
The Black Book 2018 can be found here (in Bulgarian)
A special EU edition of the Black Book from last year can be found here (in English).