site.btaMedia Review: August 5
24 Chasa writes that the BSP National Council is meeting to formulate the left's strategy and priorities for the upcoming elections. The structure of the national election headquarters is also expected to be approved. The BSP National Council is deciding the fate of the three socialists who became ministers in President Rumen Radev's caretaker government. The decision whether Krum Zarkov, Vesela Lecheva and Yavor Gechev should be punished or expelled from the party is to be taken by the National Council. Georgi Svilenski commented laconically a day ago that as members of the National Council of the left, they should work for a good performance of the party in the elections. Something they can hardly do since they are involved in the organisation of the elections as ministers of the caretaker cabinet. The plenum is also expected to set criteria, rules for the selection of candidates for deputies and the coalition formula.
According to 24 Chasa, at its first meeting the caretaker government of Galab Donev cancelled three decisions of his predecessor, Kiril Petkov. One of them was related to Bulgaria's accession to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), also known as the Club of the Rich. The other two decisions are the transfer of the barracks in Yambol to the municipality and changes in the law related to the Recovery and Resilience Plan. Bulgaria is not refusing to join the Club, but it is missing documents related to all three decisions, which necessitates their temporary suspension, 24 Chasa learned from the Council of Ministers. So far it is not clear exactly what documents are missing. President Rumen Radev has announced that he insists on Bulgaria's entry into the OECD.
24 Chasa runs an article about an alert from the National Network for Children, which said that the safe internet hotline is facing closure due to lack of funding from the state. Currently 50% of the money comes from the European Commission. The Bulgarian Safer Internet Centre needs 200,000 leva a year to support itself. Ten of the reports it receives a year are about children who have been victims of paedophiles on the internet. However, it will stop processing them as of September 1. Along with that, the Centre is closing if a solution to the problem is not found by then. The Centre is working together with the General Directorate Combating Organized Crime, Interpol, and the International Association of Internet Hotlines, which have already been notified of its closure. The National Network has sent an open letter to the President, the Prime Minister, the Minister of e-Government and the National Ombudsman. There has been no response from the ministers yet. For her part, Ombudsman Diana Kovacheva has referred the matter to the State Agency for Child Protection and other institutions.
The former head of state-owned military equipment supplier Kintex EAD, Alexander Mihailov, showed documents, according to which only for the first four months of the war in Ukraine, Bulgaria has exported by air more than 4,200 tons of Bulgarian weapons with the signature of the former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy Korneliya Ninova. All these shipments were unloaded at the Polish Rzeszow airport, 70 km from the Ukrainian border, which foreign media point to as the main transport hub for military aid to Kiyv. Mihailov cited information from the Foreign Ministry, according to which more than 60 flights from Bulgaria carrying arms to the airport in question had taken place by June 30.
Capital publishes an article about the upcoming first moves of the new caretaker government. According to the author, the resumption of gas supplies from Gazprom and the suspension of arms deliveries to Ukraine are the two critical issues for the caretaker cabinet. The ministers appointed by President Rumen Radev raise concerns that there could be a reversal in policy towards Russia. If this happens, Bulgaria will suffer severe political and image damage and create new risks for the economy.
The elections will be followed by a hard winter for Bulgaria, MRF leader Mustafa Karadayi predicted on the morning show of bTV. "The last government made wrong moves in the energy sector, and they force the caretaker cabinet and the next parliament to look for a way out right now. Turkey is one of the countries through which these crises can be solved," he said. In his opinion, Bulgaria needs a concerted, Euro-Atlantic governance with two priorities: food and energy security and independence. He revealed that during his visit to Turkey he and President Recep Erdogan had discussed the current political situation in Bulgaria as well as the gas crisis. The MRF leader said that gas is currently flowing through Turkey to Bulgaria, but the question is how much gas our country has reserved.
The former energy minister Traycho Traykov said on the morning show of the Bulgarian National Television that the whole problem with natural gas is its abnormal prices, which have affected the prices of the European energy sector, because in Europe quite a large part of electricity is produced from gas. "However, this is not the case in Bulgaria," he stressed. Regarding Gazprom, the right question is what would guarantee our energy security and the answer is that if we rely only on Gazprom, it will not be enough. Traykov was adamant that it is not bad to rely on gas from Gazprom at a good price, but the priority is to be able to cope if it is absent. Therefore, the number one priority should be to put the Komotini-Stara Zagora pipeline into operation and add quantities that will supplement what we get from Azerbaijan. On liquefied gas, Traykov said that if the caretaker government is willing to complete the tanker deals by the end of the year, it will find the capacity. "The task of the government, which knows the details of this deal, is to assess whether it is profitable or not," Traykov said.
There will be natural gas, but the price will be high, chairman of the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission Ivan Ivanov told bTV. In August the price will be high, just under 300 leva per megawatt-hour. And after September the gas price will fall, according to Ivanov. He said supplies from Azerbaijan would reduce the price. So far, 1 billion cubic meters of gas are guaranteed, and negotiations are underway for more. Regarding Bulgargaz' requested 60% increase for gas in August, Ivanov said the Commission will meet on the issue on August 12 at the latest, and the new price will probably be approved. The Bulgarian National Radio also covers the topic.
One-third of Bulgaria's required volumes are contracted through Azeri gas, and with the seven tankers, only 20% remains unsecured. This is what Martin Dimitrov from Democratic Bulgaria commented on Nova TV. "The completion of the interconnector with Greece must be a priority, however I have my doubts that the caretaker cabinet will delay it. The interconnector should be operational within days," Dimitrov explained. According to him, the caretaker government has a hidden agenda. "They want to go back to Moscow and resume deliveries of Russian gas, unaware that Moscow unilaterally cut off gas supplies to Bulgaria.
24 Chasa writes that hoteliers and restaurateurs in Bulgaria are backing a forthcoming campaign, supported by the NRA, for customers not to pay in restaurants and shops if the trader does not issue them a receipt. According to the article, this successful model has been working for several years in Greece. Following the example of our southern neighbour, NRA chief Rumen Spetsov has initiated the preparation of a similar campaign against the grey sector in Bulgaria. The NRA appeals to citizens to demand receipts for every purchase. People can control the revenue reporting by downloading from Google Play or the App Store the NRA's mobile app - NRAMobile. It enables the scanning of the QR code on the issued receipt to immediately check whether it is registered with the revenue agency. According to the chairman of the Bulgarian Association of Restaurants, Richard Alibegov, the campaign is necessary because the grey sector is the biggest obstacle to the development of the sector.
Trud publishes a piece on fuel prices in Bulgaria. Despite the depreciation of oil over the last month and a half, fuel prices have decreased marginally and are now about BGN 1 higher than they should be. In addition, there is a price gap between different petrol stations, which reaches 0.57 BGN per litre. The lowest petrol price is BGN 2.93 and the highest is BGN 3.50. The situation with diesel is similar. Methane has risen sharply in recent days and its price has increased by more than BGN 1, reaching a record BGN 4.76 per kilogram. The only exception is propane-butane, the price of which has fallen by 19% in the last month.
The biggest problem now has to do with sunflowers. We are also one of the big producers of sunflower oil. The import of duty-free Ukrainian grain undercuts the price of the Bulgarian producer. Producers can be supported for privately storing their production. There is money for this measure, and it can happen very quickly, otherwise we will begin to see mass bankruptcies. This is what Plamen Abrovski from There Is Such a People told Nova TV. In his words, oil mills want to get cheap resources, therefore they cannot be Bulgarian. "Their warehouses are full of Ukrainian sunflower, and this makes it difficult for our producers," he said. About the upcoming vote, he said that TISP is not afraid to run alone.
Trud writes that the former head of Sofia's heating utility Toplofikatsiya, Valentin Dimitrov, was sentenced yesterday to 7 years in prison for money laundering by the Sofia City Court. This is the end of a 13-year-long judicial saga with 101 hearings in the case. Dimitrov was fined BGN 20,000 and must pay costs of over BGN 177,000. The former head of Toplofikatsiya has been on trial since 2009 for laundering nearly BGN 12 million and for tax crimes for about another 2 million. The verdict is not final and can be appealed before a higher instance.
Duma writes that Bulgaria won a historic tennis title. The Bulgarian U18 girls triumphed at the European Team Championships in France. The accolade is a first for the country in this age group and Bulgaria's third European team title, following successes in 1978 and 2016. For the first place, the Bulgarian girls won against the Czech Republic in the semi-final and Hungary in the final.