| Pismoto v gotov za izpra6tane vid!
Danio da uspeem vsi4ki zaedno da se preborim sas sistemata v BG.
We are writing you this letter to ask for your assistance in resolving a problem that threatens the rights of thousands Bulgarian citizens currently residing abroad. Recently, we have learnt that the National Social Security Institute (NSSI) would start an enforcement action against the property and assets of these Bulgarian citizens because of their willingness to exercise their right to free movement and reluctance to accept administrative practices reminiscent of those of the communist totalitarian state.
In December 2004, the Bulgarian Parliament amended the Social Insurance Code to change the procedure through which Bulgarian citizens living abroad were required to pay their social security taxes. Arguably, the purpose of this tax is to ensure the recipients of health care and other services with coverage should they need it. Yet up to December 2004, the Social Insurance Code had failed to recognize that people living abroad could not draw the benefits of the system simply because they had not been physically presented in the country. Evidently, the possession of Bulgarian citizenship alone constituted the sole basis for imposing the social security tax. In amending the Social Insurance Code, the Bulgarian Parliament tacitly acknowledged the patent illegality and unjustness of this concept. The changes in the legislation permitted Bulgarian citizens living abroad to opt out of paying the social security tax starting 2005. This provision, however, does not apply retroactively and creates both an inexplicable and intolerable situation because the Bulgarian Parliament, and the NSSI in particular, decided to compel thousands of Bulgarian citizens living abroad to pay mandatory social security tax for the period 2000-2005
This decision, based on the Social Insurance Code, did not take into account the fact that these people paid their social security obligations in countries they were residing in. Bulgarian citizens living abroad contribute to the social security systems of their country of residence. As far as we know, no European country, except Bulgaria, imposes social security taxes on its citizens when they decide to exercise their right of free movement and establish residence in another country. Moreover, Bulgarian citizens living abroad have not relied on the services provided by the public health care system, but on their own wherewithals to secure access to the services they needed.
The NSSI has always asserted that this tax has been imposed to those who may potentially need the services of the welfare system: the Bulgarian citizens residing in Bulgaria, not Bulgarian expatriates who permanently reside in other countries, rarely visit their home country, and have few opportunities to familiarize themselves with Bulgarian laws. Even though the NSSI is aware of this, it introduced an array of enforcement measures starting on March 1, 2005 to collect these taxes in spite of their dubious legal validity, without public discussion about the scope of the problem and indeed with little public notice at all. As mentioned, the problem has become even more exacerbating for Bulgarian living abroad many of whom are not even aware that the NSSI threatens confiscation of their property in Bulgaria.
At the same time, the NSSI has started an intimidation campaign aimed at creating fear among the 1,5 million debtors of the welfare system. Through a number of media outlets, various high-ranking officials declared their intention to resort to confiscation and garnishments in order to collect revenues. For example, Vesselin Nikolov , the NSSIís regional chief for the region of Razgrad, declared adamantly that no amnesty would be offered to the NSSIís ďdebtorsĒ. He reaffirmed NSSIís intention to collect its revenues with all available means in spite of the dubious legal basis for the imposition of the social security tax on Bulgarians living abroad. In addition, the NSSIís officials arbitrarily demanded that some of NSSIís alleged debtors - especially those living abroad -appear before NSSIís officials in person to pay their obligations. These actions not only contravene Bulgarian law but also the simple common sense. They impose undue hardship on thousands of Bulgarian expatriates alongside with their families and disrupt their normal lives. Regrettably, we conclude that NSSIís actions evince its intention to conduct a campaign that targets Bulgarians living abroad for reasons we cannot comprehend.
This intimidation campaign cannot conceal the fact that the NSSIís actions as well as certain provision of the Social Insurance Code are both unlawful and unjust. The Social Insurance Code pertaining to the imposition of the social security tax fails to recognize that Bulgarian immigrants who reside abroad cannot be legally forced to pay for a service they did not receive. Otherwise, this would be a tantamount to extraterritorial application of Bulgarian law and extraterritorial taxation of Bulgarian citizens many of whom are legal residents of countries belonging to the European Union. This extraterritorial application-considered an undesirable aberration in international law-cannot be condoned, especially in a country that strives for a membership in the European Union. Moreover, the enforcement measures proposed by the NSSI constitute a flagrant violation of Article 1 of the First Protocol of the European Convention on Human Rights. In trying to enforce the imposition of social security tax with little or no availability of procedural guarantees for expatriatesí rights, the NSSIís blatantly violates the right of peaceful enjoyment of oneís property rights: a right that is a basis for every democratic society. As already mentioned, the lack of public discussions and information deprive Bulgarian expatriates from any chance of procedural guarantee for their rights, even those enshrined - yet often violated- by the Bulgarian Constitution. This will result in massive confiscation of property without any due process guarantees. What is alarming it that the rights of thousands Bulgarian citizens are endangered by an institution that disregards their right of free movement; an institution that attempts to confiscate their property because of a service they did not use and have no intentions of using; an institution that overlooks the contributions these people make to the social security systems in their countries of residence.
Sadly, we have to point out that the NSSIís resort to scare tactics and intimidation is a dangerous precedent that exemplifies mentality from a different -and darker- time in which the rule of law and adherence to human rights were grossly disrespected by the communist totalitarian state. We hoped that that these times were over. Yet we witness an institutional reaction that reverses our perception. This intimidation campaign will not only undermine the confidence of Bulgarian expatriates in their home country, but will also put a strain on the lives of families, children, and parents many of whom are citizens of EU countries.
We hope that you have the ability to discuss this subject with the Bulgarian Government, Bulgarian Parliament, and NSSI. Because of the scope of the problem - affecting almost one million Bulgarians expatriates - the NSSIís actions breach not only the Bulgarian Constitution, but also European body of human rights law. We believe that you are in a position to inform the Bulgarian Government about the vast array of harmful ramifications that might result should the NSSIís measures be adopted. More importantly, we hope that you will propose measures that will persuade both the Bulgarian Government and the Bulgarian Parliament to rectify this intolerable situation. From our perspective, a retroactive change in the legislation, which links the amount of the social security tax with the duration of expatriatesí actual stay in Bulgaria for the period 2000-2005, is in order. This change will not impose a single Procrustean standard, but will create symmetry between the expatriatesí individual opportunities for personal access to the Bulgarian health care system, if utilized at all, and their contributions to the social security in their countries of residence. This solution will is beneficial to the Bulgarian Government as well because it will defuse various diplomatic problems arising out the unrestrained- and hardly judicious- extraterritorial application of Bulgarian law. Accordingly, the NSSIí enforcement action, which exemplifies an arbitrary exercise of authority, shall be immediately suspended. These propositions reflect our understating of the need for mutually beneficial compromises, yet indicate our willingness to protect our rights against the arbitrary exercise of power.
In seeking your assistance, we express our confidence that justice and equity will not be trampled and the problem regarding the Bulgarian expatriatesí social security taxes will be resolved with civility and respect for our rights.
Thank you in advance for your time and consideration.