April 22, 2020 - the Access to Information Programme submitted a statement regarding the Draft Bill of Amendments to the Bulgarian Excise Duties and Tax Warehouses Act through which the Access to Public Information Act (APIA) is also being amended.
According to AIP's assessement, the proposed amendments are to the detriment of citizens' right to information and jeopardize the transparency of institutions.
32 civil society organizations, amongst which the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives, WWF-Bulgaria and many others, as wells as 154 citizens from all over Bulgaria declared their support for AIP's statement via an online petition that was open for signing between the 17th and the 22nd of April. As the campaign coincided with Bulgaria's official Easter holiday period, such a wide-reaching support is a clear indicator for the recognition of the importance of the APIA and of the preserving of democratic values in times of crisis.
AIP's statement came about after a group of MPs from the GERB ruling party introduced a problematic draft bill amending the Bulgarian Excise Duties and Tax Warehouses Act on March 5, 2020. The transitional and final provisions of the draft law propose amendments to the APIA. Through this proposal, a law governing a fundamental human right - such as the right to information - is considered being amended by a law that has nothing to do with access to information. In particular, the changes provide that each public body will be free to decide on the actual costs for the provision of information, while now there is a threshold set by the Minister of Finance in accordance with the law.
For the thorough opinion of Alexander Kashumov, Head of AIP legal team, expressed just after the draft bill was introduced in Parliament, redirect here.
The Access to Information Forum project is implemented with the financial support of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway under the EEA Financial Mechanism.
The main objective of the Access to Information Forum project is to improve the transparency and accountability of public institutions. Click here to visit the project's webpage.