Finance Ministry will not extend its contract with Crown Agents

Finance Ministry will not extend its contract with Crown Agents

Bulgaria's Ministry of Finance will not extend its contract with British consultancy firm Crown Agents, which expires in June 2010, a letter addressed to Crown Agents and published on the Ministry's website said on May 4 2010. The reason cited was lack of funds."The Finance Ministry appreciates the actions and the consultancy work done by Crown Agents under the current and previous contracts but would like to inform you that in times of economic crisis, and the need to reduce budget costs, we would not take on your offer (of a new contract) at this stage," reads the letter addressed to Crown Agents' team leader in Bulgaria, John Brown, and signed by Finance Minister Simeon Dyankov.Dyankov recognised the improved level of co-ordination and interaction between Bulgaria's state bodies dealing with revenue collection as well as the improved control and fight against contraband.Dyankov's letter to Crown Agents comes almost a week after Dyankov said that the Cabinet was uncertain if a new contract with Crown Agents would be signed.On April 28 2010, Dyankov said that Crown Agents, hired as private advisers to improve Customs Agency practices, was unable to give a specific answer to Prime Minister Boyko Borissov's questions about who were the masterminds that benefited the most from corruption in the customs system.Crown Agents' services cost taxpayers "dearly" and there were agents in Bulgaria who could do the same job, Dyankov said.On the same day Vanyo Tanov, head of the Customs Agency, said that Crown Agents' work was not worth the money Bulgaria had paid it since 2001."I don't know what Crown Agents has done in the past but since I have been in office (since the summer of 2009) the fee they get is quite serious and not worth paying," Tanov was quoted as saying by Bulgarian National Radio.Since 2001, Crown Agents has signed four contracts with Bulgaria, the most recent in January 2009 under the previous government, by Dyankov's predecessor Plamen Oresharski, which expires in June.Over the years, Crown Agents' presence in Bulgaria was treated with misgivings by the media and, by extension, the public, because the contracts detailing the cost and the exact nature of the services rendered by the consultancy were classified.

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