Let’s Change the mode - The Bulgarian perspective of the fight for income inequality and employment(2018)


The main purpose of this project is to develop and to assist the implementation of social democratic policies in Bulgaria.  This is necessary because,  according to the last researches from 2017, Bulgaria continues to be:

1. The country with the cheapest labor in European Union;

2. The last one in the fight against corruption and crime;

3.  A country having serious issues with the transparency of the governance on national and local level.

The cheap price of labor in Bulgaria is a very painful topic for more than two generations of Bulgarians. Officially it is the main reason for drastic immigration of young Bulgarians to West and Central Europe regardless of their education and social background. The minimum salary in Bulgaria in 2017 was 460 Bulgarian Levs per month or approximately $ 250 – € 235.

The average salary in Bulgaria is considerably higher than the minimum wage, but still rather low. Currently, the average salary in Sofia /the capital/ is hovering around 500 to 650 euros per month, which is more than the double of the minimum. But the situation is really different in other regions of the country like Vidin, Montana, Silistra, Sliven, Razgrad, Targovishte, Shumen, Yambol, etc. there, the average salary varies from 400 to 550 euro. At the same time the cost of living is rising every year faster than the level of salaries.
It is common for the public sector and for many private companies to pay minimal salaries of people with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics, engineers, biologists, teachers, nurses etc.

Other painful issue for the Bulgarian society are the reforms in the health sector. Different Bulgarian governments has been declaring their intentions for reforms since 1997, but in reality there are no reforms. Although all political parties admit that there are serious problems in the health system, there is a lot of fear and negligence towards Bulgarian political circles from any changes. According to the statistics the government is spending more and more on health system, but the quality is dropping. Thousands of people are left without any or no proper health services. The system is experiencing problems in every level of health support – emergency rooms, general practitioners, hospital services, prophylaxis and rehabilitation, medicine supplies, etc. At the same time there are no complex analysis and official clear reports for the public money spent on health system and the results of this financing. There is no detailed reports on the expenses spent of the health care of the diversity social groups. And last but important there are no specific annual priorities determined by the government or the Parliament in the Bulgarian Health Care policy. The lack of strategy and prioritizing, the lack of accurate information in the health policy of the country, results in desperation, doubts of corruption and social anger on daily bases towards Bulgarians.

Problems to be solved:

The main problems which this project shall try to solve are the lack of strategy for rising income in Bulgarian politics; the lack of strategy for reforms and improvement on health system; lack of transparency in the process of policy making.
Precisely because of the above mentioned problems, ISI and FEPS should initiate a series of public debates on the following problems - work conditions and low incomes and the health care system problems. The initiative includes four public debates in various cities\towns across the country. Participants in the debates shall be leading experts on the topics, employers, trade unions and civil activists. In addition, ISI supported by FEPS will conduct a sociological survey on the working conditions across the country. We will also perform a comparative analysis of the various health systems in the European Union, drawing on possible working practices that can be implemented in Bulgaria. The results of the research will be presented on a press conference and sent to the national authorities.
We believe that the partnership between ISI and FEPS is crucial for developing and implementing this project.

And last but not least this project will once again strengthen the name of the two organizations in terms of promotion of democracy and transparency.