Can the Law on Access to Public Information and the so-called “Measure 60/40” be turned into a source of profit for private benefit? Unfortunately, the answer is probably yes, and the way in which this can be done is described in a story told by “Radio Burgas”.
An accounting firm from Burgas reported an incorrect practice on the part of “National Association – National Happiness”. From there they requested information related to the funds allocated under measure 60/40. As a ground they indicated that they were carrying out an inspection and requested the data in question under the Access to Public Information Act. The letter was received through a courier company with cash-on-delivery. It states that information is required related to copies of payment orders for payments made under the measure for the month of February, name and surname of the employees who received the funds. According to the accounting firm, they cannot pay for an inspection that they themselves did not want. It is not right to provide personal data of their employees, provided that the association has not provided
document that it is registered as a personal data operator
and has the right to handle such information.
The letter was received by the accounting firm last week. “We receive a lot of documents from all kinds of institutions,” said Jana Berbateva, an employee of the company, in relation to the case. So far, however, a state institution has not sent us letters with cash-on-delivery. This may have been our first alarm to refuse to receive the letter. After we paid the respective fee in the amount of BGN 11.99, it turned out that the shipment was from the “National Association – People’s Happiness” in connection with the measure 60/40. Along with the letter, an invoice was sent to us for the imposed payment, for packaging and delivery of the shipment,” Berbateva explained.
According to her, the amount for the shipment may be small, but if we take into account how many companies in the country have applied for the measure,
it can reach up to BGN 1 million,
if they all receive such cash-on-delivery items.
The companies that are present monthly in the lists for support under measure 60/40 exceed 100 thousand. “The register is public and there you can see when the money was transferred, what are the amounts and how many employees are involved,” said Berbateva.
An inspection of “Pro Veritas” showed that the invoice issued for the payment of the imposed payment to the association was from the company “GP – Group Bulgaria”.
“The National Association – People’s Happiness” asked us for a copy of payment orders for payments made under the Wage Fund, paid to workers,” explained Jana Berbateva.
This is information that we cannot present
to absolutely no institution, except a state one that checks us under the relevant procedures. But not from an association that has nothing to do with the whole program. “Given the number of companies applying, if each of them receives such a letter, “GP Group Bulgaria” will have a much better income than the people affected by the pandemic,” she said.
According to the Law on Access to Public Information, inquiries can also be made to private companies that operate with public funds. Such are those under measure 60/40. However, the official data are published on the website of the National Social Security Institute. The information requested by the “National Association – People’s Happiness” is
contrary to the Personal Data Protection Act,
as it cannot be made available to unauthorized persons or organizations.
The chairman of the “National Association – People’s Happiness” turned out to be 20-year-old Ventsilaslav Manchovski. It is he who is also the owner of the company “GP – Group Bulgaria”, which issued the invoice for the imposed payment of the shipment, received from the accounting office. The website of the association states that the inspections it carries out began on March 1 last year and
“Weekly lists of civil control activities”
will be published there regularly. However, there are none so far.
Before BNR – Burgas Manchovski explained that the inspection of the companies actually started on March 1, 2021. “Our goal is clear – many companies that are our partners have complained that funds have not reached them,” he said. The application procedure is very cumbersome and complicated. For this reason, we decided to check whether those companies that have received funds have provided them to their employees, as there are also workers who state that they have information that the companies in which they work have received funds and they have not received their wages. This is a gross violation of the Decree of the Council of Ministers,” Manchovski explained.
According to him, as of March 9 this year
the association has inspected 1450 companies,
of which 1120 presented their decisions and provided access to the requested information. The refusals of the companies that did not provide the requested information were appealed before the respective administrative courts, said Ventsilaslav Manchovski.
When asked why the companies that received the inspection letters had to pay for them by cash-on-delivery, he replied that there was not a single document sent by cash-on-delivery. “All documents are sent at the expense of the recipient and the recipient pays for the packaging and delivery of the letter,” reads his answer to BNR – Burgas. No cash-on-delivery appears in the letters that were sent,” he said. According to Manchovski, the accounting company that reported the case did not comply with the requirements of the Council of Ministers’ Decree.
“We will take all the measures that the law allows us,” he said. First
we will inform the prosecution,
then we will inform the NSSI so that payment on long requests of this company can be stopped. We will inform the NRA so that they can be activated and carry out an inspection. We have already informed the Labor Inspectorate, who will request documents and will carry out an inspection,” Manchovski explains.
In the letter sent by his association to the accounting company that submitted the signal, it became clear that: “The cash-on-delivery which is paid in the amount of BGN 11.99, is related to the packaging of a letter in the amount of BGN 4.99 and the delivery of the letter by courier company in the amount of BGN 7.00. ”The Association then sends an invoice for the payment to the companies, where it is described that it is a cash payment for packaging and delivery of the letter in the amount of BGN 9.99 and includes 20% VAT in amount of BGN 2.
This means that during the inspection period, the “National Association – People’s Happiness” should have received only from the payment for the completion of the letters
income of about BGN 5.5 thousand
The accounting company also sent complaints to the courier company, the economic police and the District Prosecutor’s Office in Burgas. “Our goal is to advertise the whole problem, which concerns a lot of companies,” they explained. We have made an action to inform all our clients not to accept letters that they do not expect, to check first what it is about before paying,” said Berbateva.
The police in Burgas informed that so far only one signal has been filed against the “National Association – People’s Happiness”, which has already been considered by its experts. “They found that it was most likely a case in which, through the systematic distribution of letters through companies that distribute them and require an advance payment of a relatively small amount of money, they are likely to accumulate
dividends only for the sender’s pocket,
said Burgas police spokeswoman Tsvetelina Randeva. In practice, the letter itself has an extremely strange content and requires data that should not serve anyone at all,” she explained.
The case has already been investigated.