E-Government Minister Alexander Iolovski, who complained that he was pressured not to carry out public procurement worth hundreds of millions, is driving a major project under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan. The project has an indicative initial value of BGN 633 million, and a total of 7 public procurements should have already been announced for it. Orders are delayed, and this is also due to the overall backlog of the recovery plan.
This was shown by an investigation by “Now” regarding Jolovski’s claims at the extraordinary presidential council in the parliament in addition to the scandal with the machine vote in the first round of the local elections. He repeated the accusations during questioning in the anti-corruption commission.
After the chairman’s council in the National Assembly, the deputy from ITN Toshko Yordanov said that the pressure was exerted by the co-chairman of the PP-DB Kiril Petkov and the deputy from the same group Bozhidar Bojanov, former minister of e-government. The goal was not to distribute BGN 640 million through public procurement, but to give it to companies named by them. Both denied. Bojanov explained in his post on Twitter that BGN 640 million is a lot of money and cannot be spent by one government, even if it governs for a full term. The ministry, and earlier the state agency, for its entire existence from 2016 to now spent a total of about 135 million (according to SEBRA data), he added.
Kiril Petkov first for some reason authorized the journalist Sasho Dikov to do this. A week later, in an interview with “Dnevnik”, he stated that this never happened and that he was not questioned about the case, after which he defined the accusations against him as “a flat insinuation and an attempt to divert attention”.
However, the rebuttals are not entirely accurate.
Funding in the amount of BGN 640 million for activities “related to the security of the state in the field of information services” (in the words of Toshko Yordanov) is really not available in the national budget. However, under the National Plan for Recovery and Sustainability, there is a similar large-scale project worth BGN 633 million. The Ministry of Electronic Government (MEG) is responsible for one of three activities under the project – “Development of the state support network by increasing its transmission capacity and ensuring connectivity to all municipal centers”. Almost half of the total amount – BGN 316.4 million including VAT – is expected to go to her. The remaining 2 project activities are implemented by the Ministry of Transport.
In order to absorb the money, MEU has to conduct a total of 7 public procurements, 6 of which are already late. According to the initial schedule, the implementation of 5 of the orders was to start from the second half of 2022, one of the orders was announced starting the first quarter of 2023, and one – in 2024. The implementation of the schedule was delayed due to the late delivery of the recovery plan and the political crisis.
That in the case of “Yolovski” it is a question of projects with European funding, it was also understood from the reports submitted. In addition to the Bulgarian prosecutor’s office, one was also filed before the European prosecutor’s office, which deals only with cases of misuse of European funds. Conducting a public procurement for similar amounts is absolutely mandatory, and can be avoided only in limited cases, such as the presence of urgency or respect for copyright, experts commented.
Bojanov’s statement that 640 million cannot be spent during the mandate of one government is also incorrect. The projects under the recovery and development plan cover the mandate of exactly one cabinet – they must be completed by 2026.
Apart from the large project for BGN 633 million, the Ministry of Electronic Government is responsible for another one under the recovery plan for BGN 113 million, with which information arrays in the administration must be digitized.