Report shows "illegal schemes" widespread in export-import sector Standartnews - 2002/2/13
An estimated 25 per cent to 35 per cent of Bulgarian imports and exports is handled through illegal schemes, according to a report by Coalition 2000. The anti-corruption association organized the fourth public forum on curbing corruption, which was held here on Tuesday [12 February].

President Georgi Purvanov attended the forum.

"The openness of the national economy, where the proportion of imports and exports to the country's GDP ranges between 65 and 75 per cent, determines the key role of shadow-economy and contraband rings. Hence, in 2001 Bulgarian customs served as one of the major mechanisms for redistribution of the national wealth," the report says.

"Last year, the condition and functioning of the customs system were influenced by the June parliamentary elections. Continuous personnel changes led to the disintegration of old schemes for illegal imports and exports and raised a barrier to smuggling and 'sideline imp-ex' activities.

"The uncertainty and fear among senior customs administrators narrowed down the 'horizon' of lower-level customs officers and the latter chose to work with shadow-economy importers at their own expense," Coalition 2000 reports.

"Customs officers tended to adhere to the principle of making 'the last big strike' before possibly getting fired, or providing 'the last service' to an appropriate client in order to ensure subsequent employment for themselves outside the system.

"Last year saw a steady increase in legal imports of mass-consumption goods, semi-finished products and raw materials. Meanwhile, border control services suffered increasing pressure to allow illegal or semi-legal import and export of goods. A relevant factor was the changing domestic market," the report reads.

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