January 8, 2016 Print

The perverse incentives of the public sector lead government officials to waste money in an endless variety of ways. Atlas Network partners the Bulgarian Libertarian Society and the Institute for Market Economics, in cooperation with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, recently published “The Black Book of Government Waste in Bulgaria,” a collection of 10 case studies that shed light on the ways in which government and government-funded institutions in the country misspend and outright squander taxpayers’ money.

“The Black Book of Government Waste in Bulgaria” presents an array of examples of runaway government spending, including a classic example of the “bridge to nowhere” trope from Northeastern Bulgaria; a publicly funded national television station that purchased tens of thousands of euros worth of skiing equipment; small villages populated predominantly by elderly people that used EU funds to build soccer stadiums; the Ministry of Tourism paying close to a million euros for a stolen logo; and many more.

“In 2016, public spending in Bulgaria will exceed 32 billion lev ($17.9 billion),” the study explains (translated from Bulgarian). “These are funds from the national budget. We should add the cost of more than 2.5 billion lev, at the expense of European taxpayers. Spending of nearly 35 billion lev by public institutions in the country will be an absolute record since the beginning of transition. ‘Black Book,’ which is in your hands, strongly suggests that all of us who fill state coffers must be serious stewards of the way these funds will be spent. The bureaucratic machine may not be effective at achieving concrete results, but undoubtedly successful in the waste of public resources.”

The publication is based on the “Black Book of Public Waste” model introduced by the German Taxpayers Federation (GTF) more than four decades ago. Economist Mathias Warneke, head of GTF, published a review of the first edition of “The Black Book of Government Waste in Bulgaria,” comparing waste between Bulgaria and Germany. The publication has also received generous media coverage from national and local televisionradio, and newspapers.