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Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA), 97-02-07

Bulgarian Telegraph Agency Directory - Previous Article - Next Article

From: Embassy of Bulgaria <bulgaria@access1.digex.net>


EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.

BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY

7 February, 1997


CONTENTS

  • [01] CARETAKER GOVERNMENT NEARLY READY, PRESIDENT STOYANOV SAYS
  • [02] DIPLOMATIC BRIEFS
  • [03] PARLIAMENT SITTING FRUSTRATED OVER LACK OF QUORUM
  • [04] BULGARIAN-GERMAN TRADE RELATIONS IN 1996
  • [05] IMF NOT CONSIDERING RESTRICTIONS ON DEPOSITS, ROZWADOWSKI SAYS
  • [06] MINIMUM MONTHLY WAGE SET AT 11,000 LEVA
  • [07] GOVERNMENT DECISIONS
  • [08] INDUSTRIAL ACTION CONTINUES
  • [09] NATIONAL ELECTRONIC MEDIA CALL INDEFINITE STRIKE
  • [10] TRADE UNIONS' ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAMME
  • [11] VINARIYA'97 EXHIBITION OPENS
  • [12] PROSECUTOR GENERAL IVAN TATARCHEV ON THE CULPRITS FOR THE CRISIS
  • [13] VINARIYA'97 EXHIBITION OPENS

  • [01] CARETAKER GOVERNMENT NEARLY READY, PRESIDENT STOYANOV SAYS

    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - Interviewed for CNN, Bulgarian President Peter Stoyanov said that the line-up of the caretaker Cabinet is almost ready, the Bulgarian National Radio said on Thursday.

    National Radio quoted President Stoyanov as saying in an interview for the BBC that he is ready to provide guarantees that there will be no political witch-hunt in Bulgaria. Stoyanov is also quoted as saying that there is no such danger of that kind and that statements of the kind are made by the Socialists for propaganda reasons. At the same time President Stoyanov said he will use all his powers to speed up bringing to trial of those, who, in his view, have plundered Bulgaria, the Radio said.

    [02] DIPLOMATIC BRIEFS

    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - Spanish Ambassador to Bulgaria Jorge Fuentes was received by Parliament chairman Blagovest Sendov Thursday.

    The diplomat thanked for the warm welcome he received in this country and for the beneficial cooperation with the state institutions. He reportedly said he was happy having been able to contribute to the promotion of Bulgarian-Spanish ties.

    Blagovest Sendov wished the diplomat a successful future career and voiced his expectations that he will lobby for Bulgaria's accession to European structures.

    Concern over the developments in Bulgaria was voiced by Hungarian Ambassador in Bulgaria Tamas Tick at a meeting Thursday with Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leader Georgi Purvanov, the BSP foreign relations department said.

    The Hungarian Ambassador appreciated the responsibility claimed by the BSP for the failures in its government, and said they are just part of the problems piled up over the past 6-7 years - not just the last two - the responsibility for which lies with all political forces.

    Ambassador Tick emphasized that Hungary makes a clear differentiation between the events in Serbia and in Bulgaria. He said while the Serbs are fighting for democratic rights, the Bulgarian protests are driven by economic motives.

    [03] PARLIAMENT SITTING FRUSTRATED OVER LACK OF QUORUM

    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - The National Assembly did not hold a planned meeting on Thursday over lack of quorum. Just 109 members of the 240-seat Parliament were present in the plenary hall. The Left, which holds a majority in the National Assembly decided on Wednesday that it will only take part in the passage of amendments to the Electoral Law.

    However only nine representatives of the Left attended the meeting. "If all opposition MPs were present, the meeting could have been held," National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov said.

    The BSP's absence from the Parliament sitting deals a most severe blow on the state institutions, leader of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) Ivan Kostov told later a news conference. He described as unprecedented the parliamentary majority's walk-out.

    According to Ivan Kostov, there are three issues that should be passed by a consensus: amendments to the Aggregate Incomes Tax Act and to the Electoral Law as well as a declaration on the principles of going out of the crisis.

    The declaration should be approved by all parliamentary forces, the UDF leader said. He would not state the key principles suggested by the UDF. "We do not want to press anyone. Let all other parliamentary groups come up with their suggestions and the Parliament should approve those on which there is a consensus," he explained.

    According to the UDF, the amendments to the Aggregate Income Tax Act brook no delay. The effective tax schedule robs those who hardly make ends meet, Parliament Deputy Chairman Ivan Kourtev said. The amendments to the law will be drafted by the Budgetary Committee and may be put to the vote already on Friday, the opposition believes.

    The Electoral Law also needs to be amended. The different parliamentary groups, however, are not unanimous on what amendments should be introduced. The Left suggests that the 4 per cent barrier needed to take seats in Parliament be reduced to 2 per cent. The MPs of the Popular Union and the independent deputies want it set at 3 per cent. According to the UDF, no political changes should be made in the law, but only technical ones that would facilitate the holding of elections. Only those amendments will be passed on which the parliamentary forces have the same stands, Ivan Kostov said. If, despite everything, the Left forces the introduction of some other amendments, the Electoral Law will not enter into force as the President will veto it, he projects. And after the Parliament is dissolved, it will be impossible to hold another vote on the Law.

    According to Ivan Kostov the caretaker cabinet which the President will appoint after the disbandment of the National Assembly must be given serious powers. If the Parliament would not provide such powers to the Cabinet, this would imply that the parliamentary majority wants to destabilize the situation in the country and provoke economic deterioration, UDF leader commented. At a long meeting on Wednesday the Left parliamentary group decided that it will support no excessive broadening of the powers of the caretaker cabinet. For the time being the Left has not yet discussed its stand on the caretaker Cabinet, BSP leader Georgi Purvanov said. In his view, what is more important is the Left's principal stand on the Cabinet, rather than the problem of its line-up.

    In his view, for now the problem of the caretaker prime minister remains open. Sofia Mayor Stefan Sofianski, elected on the UDF ticket, has been mentioned as the most likely candidate.

    [04] BULGARIAN-GERMAN TRADE RELATIONS IN 1996

    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - Bulgarian-German trade remained largely unaffected by the crisis in Bulgaria in 1996 due to the traditional bilateral relations and the promotion of joint businesses. Moreover, these relations were among the few stabilizing factors in the collapsing Bulgarian economy, says an economic analysis of radio Deutsche Welle describing in detail the current financial and economic situation in this country.

    The effect of the crisis on Bulgarian-German trade made itself felt mainly in October-December 1996. Last year Bulgarian exports to Germany were 7% lower from the 1995 figure. In absolute terms 1996 Bulgarian exports were worth about 400 million US dollars. The import of German goods went down more considerably, by 16 percent down to some 530 million US dollars.

    Germany is Bulgaria's second largest supplier, following Russia, and the fourth biggest market for Bulgarian-made goods. In 1995 Germany was this country's second largest market but Italy and Turkey replaced it in 1996.

    [05] IMF NOT CONSIDERING RESTRICTIONS ON DEPOSITS, ROZWADOWSKI SAYS

    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - Thursday's press reports that the International Monetary Fund is considering restrictive measures such as a freeze on personal savings deposits in banks or a replacement of such deposits with government securities are not true, Franek Rozwadowski, IMF Resident Representative to Bulgaria, said on national radio. Referring to Reuters, some newspapers wrote that the IMF was considering a temporary freeze on Bulgarians' personal savings deposits. Mr Rozwadowski said that such measures had not and were not being discussed, they would not be part of the programme of the currency board and would not be proposed for discussion to the Bulgarian government at all.

    "I would like to make it clear that those reports in the press are incorrect and misleading," Mr Rozwadowski stressed.

    [06] MINIMUM MONTHLY WAGE SET AT 11,000 LEVA

    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - The monthly wages in the statefinanced sector, the minimum wage, child and unemployment benefits will double under a Thursday ordinance of the outgoing government.

    Outgoing Social Affairs Minister Mincho Koralski said the minimum monthly pay will be 11,000 leva as of February 1, tangibly up the 5,500 leva in January. The lowest welfare benefits were marked up from 3,250 to 6,000 leva. One US dollar now exchanges at 2,300 leva. A total of 500,000 Bulgarian households have to date been entitled to some sort of welfare benefits.

    In February each pensioner will get a one-time lump sum of 6,000 leva. Mincho Koralski denied claims that cost-of-living adjustments push up the inflationary spiral. A total of 12,000 million leva are necessary for making the payments under the Thursday cabinet ordinance.

    [07] GOVERNMENT DECISIONS

    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - The outgoing government Thursday amended the implementing regulations for the law on concessions.

    The amended version envisages that concession tender fees will be payable after the prospective tenderers get acquainted with the tender documents and take a final decision to participate. The amendment further introduce an obligatory requirement for environment impact assessments and an official opinion of the Environment Ministry.

    A new text in the implementing regulations places concessionholders under the obligation to ensure with a Bulgarian insurance company at their expense.

    The government approved a 20% mark-up of medicines. The wholesale surcharge was set at 8% and the retailing surcharge 20%.

    The government also approved a regime regulating the import and export of chemicals used in the production of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances. The decision is consistent with a 1988 UN Convention against Illicit Trafficking in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances.

    [08] INDUSTRIAL ACTION CONTINUES

    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - "The longest and biggest national strike in Bulgarian history ended," Podkrepa Labour Confederation (one of this country's biggest trade unions) President Konstantin Trenchev said on Thursday.

    However, strikes with economic demands are going on in some enterprises across the country, he said.

    The Lotos knitwear maker of Tryavna (Central Bulgaria) went on an indefinite strike on Thursday morning. Workers demand a 100% increase of wages, more welfare benefits, monthly adjustment of wages and payment in weekly installments.

    The strike at the western Pernik mines entered its seventh day. Monthly wages were increased by 20,000 leva retroactive to January 1. Miners were not satisfied with the agreement and did not end the strike.

    Public transport is not working in the northern city of Veliko Turnovo.

    The demands of the workers at the Sofia public transport utility are yet to be satisfied and the trade unions intend to call a strike.

    Workers of several companies in the central region of Gabrovo are on strike alert, local trade union leader Bozhana Gigova told BTA.

    Medics of Plovdiv, this country's second biggest city, staged a protest rally on Thursday demanding higher wages.

    [09] NATIONAL ELECTRONIC MEDIA CALL INDEFINITE STRIKE

    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - The Bulgarian national radio went on an indefinite strike on Thursday. Effective industrial action started at the Bulgarian national television last Saturday.

    Strikers in the television and the radio protest against the censorship in the two national media. The two play The Beatles popular song "Let It Be", symbol of the changes in Bulgaria, before each newscast.

    The strike committee in the television, which two weeks ago disclosed cases of censorship in the medium, demands that a document against censorship be signed. Strikers in the national radio criticize the management for imposing censorship and insist that it "assume public and disciplinary responsibility for its conduct on the night of January 10 to 11," when police beat protesters outside Parliament.

    Strikers in the radio and television demand the resignation of their bosses. The two directors were elected in the summer of 1995 by the Socialist party-dominated Parliament.

    Strikers in the television believe that they have achieved a small victory. "We are forming a working group to write a draft agreement against censorship. This is a victory," strike committee spokesperson Dilyana Grozdanova says. She hosts a popular political talk show.

    Newscasters present the news from a long shot as a form of protest. Films are dropped off the TV programme. Popular Bulgarian pop songs are played, with a running "Strike" caption. One hour of radio shows is dropped off from the daily programme of the medium.

    Strikers in the television and the radio demand higher wages. Radio journalists insist on transparency in the decision-making process, team independence and an audit of the radio accounts under the incumbent management.

    The state has to guarantee the independence from political and economic interference of the Bulgarian national television and radio as public media with national importance. The state has to provide such working conditions for journalists so that they serve the freedom of speech and observe the other basic rights, freedoms and interests protected by the Bulgarian legislation and the European Human Rights Convention, the UBJ said. The UBJ insists that before Parliament dissolves itself, the political forces pass a bill amending the Radio and Television Act or define "the rules of the game" in the run-up to the elections, in compliance with the principles of the civil society.

    [10] TRADE UNIONS' ANTI-CRISIS PROGRAMME

    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - A national anti-crisis programme should not be drafted without the participation of the trade unions, economic experts of the Podkrepa Labour Confederation, one of this country's biggest trade unions, say. Podkrepa will insist that the draft budget for 1997 includes a social element. Podkrepa studies show that January inflation exceeds 75%, Mika Zaikova, an expert in the trade union, told a news conference on Thursday. She said that until a currency board is introduced in Bulgaria, which will take place in mid-1997 at the earliest, the national currency may devaluate by 60% each month.

    The trade union proposes to set up a new social fund for which Podkrepa will seek the support of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions and the European Trade Union Confederation. The trade union experts believe that a reserve stabilization fund totalling at least USD 100 million needs to be set up to support the banking system. Apart from the need to implement genuine market privatization, experts should consider the possibility for the new cabinet to negotiate on rescheduling and reduction of the internal debt, Zaikova said, stressing the huge losses Bulgaria incurred as a result of enforcing the U.N. sanctions against former Yugoslavia.

    [11] VINARIYA'97 EXHIBITION OPENS

    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - The Vinariya'97 wine exhibition was opened in the Plovdiv fair grounds Wednesday. Participating are more than 100 Bulgarian and foreign companies. Among the foreign exhibitors are companies from Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, USA, France, Sweden, etc. Portuguese and Slovak wine-producers are taking part for the first time.

    Actually Vinariya'97 began already on January 31 with tasting of Bulgarian wines to name the wine of the year.

    The first wine auction was held Tuesday. Eight vintage Bulgarian wines, seven red and one white, were put at an auction. The oldest one was of the 1954 harvest.

    The Vinariya exhibition is held for the fifth time. 102 companies from 13 countries took part in the 1996 edition.

    [12] PROSECUTOR GENERAL IVAN TATARCHEV ON THE CULPRITS FOR THE CRISIS

    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - "Incumbents will be checked because of the economic crisis," said Prosecutor General Ivan Tatarchev on Wednesday evening following a session of the Supreme Judicial Council in response to a question, obviously referring to the culprits for the grave economic crisis in Bulgaria,

    "The economic crisis gives grounds for instituting legal proceedings but first it should be established what texts of the Penal Code have been violated," the Prosecutor General said. He declined mentioning any names but made it clear that he was referring to people of the ruling circles.

    Four MPs will be taken to court after this Parliament is dissolved and they lose their immunity, "Standart News" wrote on Thursday, citing Tatarchev. He also indicated that the prosecuting authorities are starting an inquiry into the economic crisis. For the time being there is no ban on members of the outgoing cabinet leaving this country as the prosecuting authorities can issue such a ban only after legal proceedings have been launched. The police, however, has the power to do so when national interests are at stake. In this connection different sources announced that the inquiry into last year's grain crisis will be completed soon.

    There are reports of offences committed by two MPs of the Bulgarian Business Bloc (BBB, the smallest parliamentary group) - Doncho Dimitrov and Dilyana Dimitrova, Tatarchev said. An investigation will be launched if the reports are confirmed.

    Already in mid-December representatives of the judiciary said that a request was being prepared for stripping Dimitrov of his parliamentary immunity because of bad debts. The scandal erupted after an investigation was launched against six Kristalbank executives to inquire into the flow out of almost 2,000 million leva from the bank (USD 1 exchanges for 1,637 leva). Dimitrov is responsible for 350 million leva in unpaid loans from financial institutions.

    The investigation against Socialist MP Dimiter Velev ended two years ago, Tatarchev told the press. The case will be taken to court after he loses his immunity. The Socialist MP is accused of ordering scores of houses in a district in Haskovo (Southern Bulgaria) to be demolished in 1989 as Secretary of the Municipal Council. He has been charged with malfeasance under Article 282 of the Penal Code facing a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

    [13] VINARIYA'97 EXHIBITION OPENS

    Sofia, February 6 (BTA) - The Vinariya'97 wine exhibition was opened in the Plovdiv fair grounds Wednesday. Participating are more than 100 Bulgarian and foreign companies. Among the foreign exhibitors are companies from Austria, Belgium, Great Britain, Germany, Greece, Italy, USA, France, Sweden, etc. Portuguese and Slovak wine-producers are taking part for the first time.

    Actually Vinariya'97 began already on January 31 with tasting of Bulgarian wines to name the wine of the year.

    The first wine auction was held Tuesday. Eight vintage Bulgarian wines, seven red and one white, were put at an auction. The oldest one was of the 1954 harvest.

    The Vinariya exhibition is held for the fifth time. 102 companies from 13 countries took part in the 1996 edition.


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