Meetings of municipal councils and their committees will now be broadcast online.
This was decided in the first reading by the deputies with 123 “yes” votes from GERB-SDS, PP-DB, “Vazrazhdane” and “Ima talikny narod”. DPS and BSP abstained.
The online broadcast will only be for the open house meetings. Local parliaments will reserve the right to close their sessions if necessary. The broadcast will be in real time on the websites of the municipal councils. And now some of them broadcast directly – for example those in Sofia, Varna and Burgas. However, the decisions on this are at the municipal, not the national level.
The agenda of the meetings will be published in advance as well. On the page of the municipal council, there will now also be a register of citizens’ questions to the mayor, as well as his answers.
In the draft law of the PP-DB, it was stipulated that all votes should now be by roll call, and after the end of the meetings, the vote of the councilors should be added to the minutes, which, however, caused a sharp reaction in the opposition. That is why the initiator of the bill, Yordan Ivanov from DB, decided to give up the roll-call vote.
“I did not hear the petitioners say whether we are putting a financial burden on the Bulgarian municipalities, whether they can cope with the tasks that will be set for them. Again, we will accept changes that require financial commitments from the municipalities, and we do not understand where they will come from provide the funds for this. During a meeting of the commission, a number slipped through – someone made calculations that this would cost the state BGN 30 million. This is not a small amount of money,” said Manol Genov from the left. He still explained that his parliamentary group is not against transparency, but will vote “abstain”.
Similar concerns were expressed by Taner Ali from DPS: “More than 175 municipalities, which are of the class of smaller municipalities, will not be able to have funding for such systems to reflect these online broadcasts that you offer. We think that if you between first and second reading, withdraw this proposal, we would support this bill”.
Mladen Shishkov from GERB explained that his group will support the bill, but called for the online broadcasting of meetings in small municipalities to be dropped between the two readings.
However, strong support came from “Vazrazhdane”. “Until now, in the majority of municipal councils in Bulgaria, there is a collective fog and irresponsibility, because in the minutes it says “ten “for”, five “against” and three “abstentions”, but who are these ten, five and three no is very clear”, said party leader Kostadin Kostadinov and declared that there should be transparency and the proposal was “extremely good”.
Kostadinov countered the arguments of DPS and BSP that introducing automatic voting software would cost a lot of money. He said that in 2012 electronic voting via tablets was introduced in the Varna municipal council. The amount for them and the software for them was BGN 16-20 thousand for 51 municipal councilors.