Customs Agency head denies job threat amid criticism from Bulgarian Interior Minister

Customs Agency head denies job threat amid criticism from Bulgarian Interior Minister

The head of the Bulgarian Customs Agency Vanyo Tanov, told Bulgarian media on May 18 that there is no danger of him losing his job despite sustained recent criticism by Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsankov.Minister Tsvetanov stated on May 17 that the Customs Agency performance was substandard, that it was not meeting the government's demands, particularly regarding fighting cigarette contraband, and that, on frequent occasions, the inability of customs agents to do their duties meant that the Bulgarian Border Police had to be called in."I was not given an ultimatum. I can be removed from office if the oligarchs manage to sort it out among them. However, with the current Prime Minister, the oligarchs' chances are small. Borissov has appointed me to work against them," Tanov told the private Bulgarian television channel bTV.Tanov, a former head of the unit for fighting organised crime, appeared on a morning television show on Bulgarian television, trying to quash speculation that he is a month away from losing his job, amid pressure and mounting criticism from Interior Minister Tsvetanov."I think that the words of Tsvetanov have been blown out of proportion because he would not comment on the work of an agency which is essentially the responsibility of another ministry," he said, implying that since his institution was under the Finance Ministry,  Tsvetanov's comment lacks substance.However, he did admit that his institution - the customs agency - must improve its mutual operations with the Interior Ministry, if the task is to be done properly."Fighting contraband is the responsibility of the Interior Ministry. It is down to special branch to smash the smuggling channels," Tanov said, complaining that his agency was allocating massive amounts of financial resources on inspecting marketplaces and houses, etc around the country, while the problem was that the contraband cigarettes had already made their way through Bulgaria's internal EU borders.

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