ISI with a new project "Let’s change the mode - Bulgarian perspective for fighting inequality in income and employment in the EU"
ISI with a new project "Let’s change the mode - Bulgarian perspective for fighting inequality in income and employment in the EU"

The main objective of the project is to develop and support the implementation of the socio-democratic policies in Bulgaria. This is necessary because, according to recent surveys from 2017, Bulgaria continues to be:

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

2. On the last place in the fight against corruption and crime;

3. A country that has serious problems with the transparency of governance at national and local level.

The cheap labor cost in Bulgaria is a very painful topic for more than two generations of Bulgarians. Officially, this is the main reason for the dramatic immigration of young Bulgarians to Western and Central Europe, regardless of their education and social background. The minimum salary in Bulgaria in 2017 was 460 BGN per month or approximately 250 dollars / 235 euros.

The average salary in Bulgaria is significantly higher than the minimum salary, but it is still quite low. At present, the average salary in Sofia /the capital/ is somewhere around 500 to 650 euros per month, which is more than twice the minimum. But the situation is different in other regions of the country such as Vidin, Montana, Silistra, Sliven, Razgrad, Targovishte, Shumen, Yambol, etc. The average salary ranges from 400 to 550 euros. At the same time, the cost of living increases each year faster than the salary level.

It is common for the public sector and many private companies to pay minimum salaries to people with bachelor and master's degrees in mathematics, engineers, biologists, teachers, nurses, etc.

Another painful problem for the Bulgarian society is the reform of the health sector. Different Bulgarian governments have declared their intentions for reforms since 1997, but there are no real reforms. Although all political parties acknowledge that there are serious problems in the health system, there is a lot of negligence and fear of changes in the Bulgarian political circles. According to statistics, the government spends more and more money on the health system, but the quality is decreasing. Thousands of people are left without any health services. The system experiences problems at every level of health care - emergency rooms, general practitioners, hospital services, prophylaxis and rehabilitation, medical supplies, etc. At the same time there is no objective analysis and clear official reports on the public funds, spent on the health system and the results of this funding. There are no detailed reports on spending on the health of different social groups. Finally, there are no important annual priorities, set by the government or parliament in the Bulgarian health care policy. The lack of strategy and prioritization and the lack of accurate information of the country's health policy lead to despair, suspicion of corruption and social anger on a daily basis among Bulgarians.

The main problems, which this project will try to solve, are the lack of a strategy for increasing the incomes in the Bulgarian policy; the lack of a reform strategy and improvement of the health system; the lack of transparency in the policy-making process.

It is precisely because of the above-mentioned problems that ISI and FEPS will initiate a series of public debates on the following issues - working conditions and low salaries, and problems in the healthcare system. The initiative includes four public debates in different cities around the country. Participants in the debates will be leading experts on the topics, employers, trade unions and civilian activists.

In addition, a sociological survey will be carried out, on the working conditions across the country. A comparative analysis of the various health systems in the European Union will also be prepared, based on possible working practices that can be implemented in Bulgaria. The results of the study will be presented at a press conference and will be sent to the national authorities.