Bulgaria's Interior Ministry said on Wednesday it will cut 850 jobs and shut some units in a second round of reforms aimed at improving police efficiency and securing money for pay rises.
The ministry announced on Tuesday it would cut 330 mostly administrative jobs. More redundancies at its regional units will be announced next week, it said in a statement.
Police officers have staged a series of protests since December to demand a 50 percent rise in salaries and better working conditions.
The government is under pressure to speed up reforms and shore up the economy as the global financial crisis bites. Bulgaria has seen protests from people saying they are fed up with life in the European Union's poorest and most corrupt nation.
The Interior Ministry said the 850 job cuts will affect its criminal, border, investigation and fire brigade units, with some cuts resulting from restructuring, closure or merger of departments.
It also decided to close its gendarmerie units in the towns of Haskovo and Razgrad, created decades ago but which had now become redundant, the statement said.
Interior Minister Michail Mikov has ruled out a 50 percent increase in police salaries, citing the economic downturn, and has offered 10 percent.
Police officers say lower salaries erode security in the Balkan country and prevents them from ensuring a strict rule of law, one of the criticisms Brussels has against Sofia.
Opinion polls show a majority of Bulgarians rate police officers as some of the most corrupt in the country along with magistrates, taxmen and doctors.
The European Union has punished Bulgaria for failing to tame organised crime and chronic corruption by freezing millions of euros in EU aid.
Last Mod: 19 Şubat 2009, 17:07