By Uglobal Staff
The bill to end Bulgaria's golden passport program still has to go through a few stumbling blocks before it becomes a final act in the country's parliament, even after the government-sanctioned draft was adopted by a legal committee.
Immigration consultant Alexander Dobrinov, who serves as the managing director at Citizenship and Investment Ltd, told Uglobal there are still several steps remaining before the Bulgarian passport program was over.
On Jan. 12, the Bulgarian Council of Ministers had endorsed the Ministry of Justice's bill calling for the end to the citizenship by investment program. The parliament's legal committee comprising members of several political parties then adopted this bill during its first reading on Feb. 3.
But in order to be approved, the bill now “needs to be voted twice by the parliament and then approved by the president. Also, between the first and second vote, it must be again approved by the legal committee," Dobrinov said.
Bulgarian prime minister vows to end program
Meanwhile, in a statement released on Feb. 8, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov reaffirmed his strong stance against the CBI program and also boasted about the fact that it was his cabinet that had proposed the bill on the subject.
Petkov also said that he had pledged to the European Commission that the CBI would come to an end.
“I personally promised at all my meetings in the European Commission and everywhere else that these ‘golden passports’ would be ended," the prime minister said, according to the statement.
He also criticized other political parties for trying to take credit for the move and accused them of “trying to ride the wave.” He added that his government’s plans were not “just rhetoric” but was based on “real intent.”
Why is the new government opposed to CBI
When the new Bulgarian government had first approved the bill to abolish the program, the Council of Ministers cited lack of real investments and job creation as one of the main reasons.
While the government continues to pledge to eradicate the program, it remains unclear if the bill will reach the desired end since the situation remains fluid as several things were happening behind the scenes.
"In the committee, there are members of parliament of basically all political parties. Mainly, they are opposing the program because of a letter by the EU Commission, criticizing all EU investment citizenship initiatives," Dobrinov said.
"There are also talks about corruption throughout the process, but so far no convincing evidence is being presented, so it looks more like accusations targeted at the old government and also against the new PM. There are many things behind the scenes too, of course."
The Bulgarian program allows foreign investors to gain permanent residency and eventually citizenship following an investment of at least 500,000 euros.
The Jan. 12 move to end the CBI program had come on the same day as the European Commission announced that it was partially suspending its visa waiver deal with Vanuatu because of security risks caused by the island nation’s investment immigration program.
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