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Bulgaria Govt Shuts down 10 Customs, Sacks 553 Agents

Date: 19.09.2009

Bulgaria's cabinet announced Wednesday significant reforms in the Customs Agency in order to fight corruption and increase revenues.

The reforms were reported by Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, who pointed out the Customs are among the top three most corrupt institutions in Bulgaria, thus the urgent need to bring drastic changes.

One of them includes the dismissal of 553 customs agents (nearly a 15% staff reduction) that would provide savings from salaries and insurance in the amount of BGN 4 M per year.

Among the dismissals are 126 of the Customs' top positions (22,8%) - 10 customs' heads, 14 deputies, 95 department heads, and 7 heads of customs stations.

The customs at Sofia, Sofia Airport, Blagoevgrad, Kyustendil, Pernik, Kulata, Kalotina, Dobrich, Vidin, and Silistra are going to be closed; 19 customs bureaus and 7 customs stations will also close down.

The Agency is only keeping its 5 Regional Customs Directorates - in Varna, Burgas, Ruse, Sofia and Plovdiv.

The cabinet is, however, opening 2 new customs, 10 customs bureaus and 3 customs stations.

The changes aim at increased excise and Value Added Tax collection, rooting out the wide-spread corruption, reduction of administrative expenses, increase of revenues.

The individuals to take high level positions at the Customs will be hired through a competition while employees will undergo 4-level tests to check their competency, the Agency new Director, General Vanio Tanov, further announced.

In the mean time, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, met the leaders of the British consulting team from "Crown Agents," who are working in Bulgaria to modernize the finance administration in order to increase revenue collections and eliminate white-collar crime.

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