Bulgaria: Combating Corruption

Publication Date01 Apr 1999
AuthorSvetla Kanstantinova
SubjectAccounting & finance
Bulgaria: Combating Corruption
Svetla Kanstantinova
Journal of Financial Crime Vol. 7 No. 2 International
'Corruption is a serious problem in Bulgaria. In
their action programmes the new Government
and the new President of the Republic of Bulgaria
give top priority to fighting corruption and orga-
nized crime.' (from the Statement of the European
Commission on Bulgaria's application for mem-
bership in the European Union, June, 1997.)
Corruption is one of the biggest challenges of our
There is corruption in every country, regardless
of its location on the map, and whether it is rich or
poor. It is a negative phenomenon that affects every-
it destroys public policy to its foundations, leads
to misuse of resources, destabilises the foundations of
even a good government, infringes on the private
sector and impedes its progress. It exacerbates
poverty, interferes with social and economic
development and undermines the foundations of
democracy. Instead of fair price, quality and innova-
tion-based competition, corruption promotes brib-
ery, hinders trade and obstructs new investments.
Corruption is the misuse of public power for per-
sonal benefit. This means that officials make decisions
and take actions that are not in favour of society but
serve private interests.
It is characteristic in all cases of corruption that the
benefit is provided by unlawful means, by sidestep-
ping normal obligations or by violation of rules.
Depending on the social area, corruption is classified
as 'political', 'administrative' or economic. Political
corruption covers cases of giving and taking a bribe
in relation to coming to or remaining in power.
Administrative corruption is observed in the sphere
of public administration and administrative services
to the population. It is most common in areas
where a regime of licences and permits is adminis-
tered, in collection of government revenues, taxes,
duties, fees etc. There is the so-called judicial corrup-
tion, which compromises the protection of lawful
interests of citizens and undermines the credibility
of jurisdiction. Economic corruption affects all indus-
tries in the economy. The more the running of the
economy is dependent on particular officials in gov-
ernment and public institutions, the more favourable
conditions are provided for its proliferation.
In a situation where there is a rich variety of forms
of corruption, it is necessary to differentiate between
large-scale and small-scale corruption.
Large-scale corruption is seen in the higher levels
of public administration, management bodies of
state-owned commercial companies, banks, customs
offices etc. The size of bribes involved is usually
big, and the victims are in the private sector. This
type of corruption is worst for investment intentions
of foreign investors.
Small-scale corruption affects the ordinary citizen.
The bribes may be smaller, but affect larger groups of
people. These are given at the level of the middle
official, and are usually ranging from a quasi-extra
benefit for performing a service outside the accepted
order, or to cover up minor misdemeanours.
Countries in transition, including the Central and
East European countries, as well as Bulgaria, are
particularly sensitive to the phenomenon of corrup-
tion. Here again, the governance of the last pro-com-
munist government (in power at the end of January
1997) proved that the state economy works against
rather than for the benefit of individuals. At this
the ineffective reform, the delayed privatisation
and the creation of a dark grey economy provided a
nutritious environment for the proliferation of
Recently, a UN report on Bulgaria has indicated:
'There is a double challenge facing the new gov-
ernment elite of Bulgaria. On the one hand, they
are faced by the already existing structures and
relations, which successfully duplicated (on their
own behalf and for their own advantage) the Sta-
te's functions in the years of its negation. On the
other hand, achieving good governance may run
into the stronger than expected opposition of the
which has lived long enough with
the obsolete structures and relations.'
Journal of Financial Crime
Vol 7 No 2. 1999, pp 179-181
© Henry Stewart Publications
ISSN 0969-6458
Page 179

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