The project is funded by the competition "Good governance at the local level" of the Foundation "America for Bulgaria", the program "The next 10 - in support of significant ideas over the next ten years"
The project of Contemporary Pleven Media Foundation – "Citizens for Transparent Local Government in Pleven District" aims to inform the public in the region about the achievements and measures taken to increase the transparency and integrity of the 11 municipalities in Pleven district, and to activate the citizens to exercise constant control over the local authorities, with an emphasis on public procurement.
According to a Eurobarometer survey on perceptions of corruption conducted in December 2019 in 28 countries, more than half (51%) of Bulgarians believe that the situation with corruption in the country has deteriorated over the past 3 years. For 80%, corruption is widespread, and almost eight out of ten Bulgarians (78%) believe that the only way to succeed in business in Bulgaria is if you have connections with politicians. When asked if they were personally affected by corruption in their daily lives, 28% of Bulgarians answered "yes". But the image of the authorities as mass corrupt is categorical - 79% say that this is the case in public institutions at local and regional level, and for those at national level this assessment is 84%.
The fight against corruption continues to be one of the main challenges to the development of the market economy in Bulgaria. Perceptions of corrupt behavior and thriving conflicts of interest in the public procurement sector prevail. This is evident from the persistently low position occupied by Bulgaria in the ranking of Transparency International according to the Corruption Perceptions Index for many years. For 2019, this index is 43 points, and our country ranks 74th in the world rankings and continues to be last in the EU, where the average value of the index is 64.32.
Although there are other factors, there is a direct link between the level of corruption and the level of investment. Pleven district is not among the most attractive for foreign investors. According to NSI data, the foreign direct investments in the non-financial sector in Pleven district as of 31.12.2018 are EUR 126.0 million, which is by 44.4% less compared to 2017. In terms of the amount of foreign investments Pleven district ranks 19th. place in the country.
Report of the World Bank from February 2019 – "Evaluation of the public procurement system in the Republic of Bulgaria" (https://www2.aop.bg/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/Bulgaria-RAS-Procurement-Report-Component-3-BG.pdf)
recommends the development of a stakeholder engagement plan as an approach to activating the public procurement strategy.
The activities under our project will be in this direction. The CPMF team has many years of journalistic and publishing experience, which includes working with public registers, such as the Register, and now the Public Procurement Portal, the Active Transparency Rating of Access to Information Programme, research and analysis skills. We will study and monitor the transparency of the websites of the 11 municipalities in Pleven district and especially the "Buyer Profile" section. We will attract and train journalists and active citizens in this. We will conduct surveys with business and the public. We will publish the results of our work on an ongoing basis, and we will provide the final analysis to the local authorities and District Administration - Pleven.
The expected result is through „illuminating“ possible violations to create an environment for their prevention and avoidance of harmful consequences for the municipalities.
The cited Eurobarometer survey also shows that Bulgarians are not sure where corruption should be reported. One in four (23%) answers "I don't know", while in the EU this percentage is 7. One in three says they will go to the police, followed by the media (20%) and only then the specialized anti-corruption agency (18%) .
The publications for and as a result of the project will be published on the information site www.posredniknews.com, will be provided to local and regional media in Pleven and the region, as well as to national online and print media.
„Support for Contemporary Pleven Media Foundation is provided by the America for Bulgaria Foundation. The statements and opinions expressed herein are solely those of the Contemporary Pleven Media Foundation and do not necessarily reflect the views of the America for Bulgaria Foundation or its affiliates“.