Eight Political Parties Found to Have Sub-let Premises Provided by State

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Eight political parties, most of them represented in Parliament, were found to have wrongfully generated proceeds from sub-letting premises made available to them by the state to conduct their party activities, read the conclusions of an audit into the management in 2006 of property made available to political parties, carried out by the National Audist Office (NAO). NAO Chairman Valeri Dimitrov presented the findings of the audit at a news conference Monday.

According to the Political Parties Act, the parliamentary represented political parries, as well as those who at the last elections won more than 1 per cent of the cast ballots, are entitled to premises, provided by the state, to carry out their activities. For such premises the parties pay a fixed rent and cannot use them for business purposes or sub-let them to natural persons or legal entities.

The eight parties found to have violated this provision are the Bulgarian National Agrarian Union led by Stefan Lichev, the Bulgarian National Agrarian Union led by Georgi Pinchev, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, the Gegryovden Movement, the Simeon II National Movement, the Union of Democratic Forces, the Union of Free Democrats, and the Green Party led by Alexander Karakachanov, part of the Coalition for Bulgaria.

The sub-letting of party premises is a practice most common in big cities such as Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna, and in 99 per cent of these cases the sub-let rent is several times higher than the amount the respective party pays to the municipal or regional administration, Chief NAO Auditor Rada Paskova said. For example, if a party pays a monthly rent of 70 leva for a given area, it sub-lets it against 700 leva monthly.

NAO held talks with the leaders of the parties in question who offered assurances that the sub-letting contracts will be terminated.

The audit established that 40 parties use wrongfully state or municipal premises while 17 of those entitled to such premises do not pay their rents regularly.

Dimitrov said that NAP plans to move legal amendments to address this and other unclear or controversial issues in the Political Parties Act. Such a provision for example requires from parties not to use donations by public procurement contractors. Four parties were found to have received such donations but, NAO experts argue, they cannot check whether their donors are carrying out a public procurement contract.

NAO has issued about 200 statements on administrative violations to various parties over failure to submit annual financial reports.

A total of 253 parties submitted their annual financial reports for 2006. Of them, 106 did so within the set deadline, March 31, 2007, and most of the reports, including those submitted by the three parties in the ruling coalition, meet the relevant legal requirements. Three parties submitted their reports by the deadline but they failed to meet the respective legal requirements. Forty-five parties submitted annual financial
reports with zero values.

NAO's Kosta Kostov said that after talks with the leaders of political parties, hundreds of thousands of leva due in taxes for the preceding audit period, 2005, were paid up.

Kostov said a problem for the party system in this country is the large number of registered parties who in reality do not carry out any activity. He said the leaders of such parties cannot close down their formations due to the lack of money to do so and also because of the cumbersome procedure. Amendments to the legislation are planned to be moved to address this too.

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