Press – Review – News


Sofia, May 19 (BTA)

EU AFFAIRS

24 Chassa (online) writes that in a joint video conference, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have called for the creation of a 500-billion-euro recovery fund able to offer grants to the countries and regions hardest hit by the coronavirus crisis. The leaders of France and Germany said they were proposing to authorise the European Commission to borrow money on financial markets in the European Union’s name, while at the same time respecting EU treaties. French President Macron said this was the first time France and Germany agreed to let the EU raise debt jointly, calling this a ‘major step forward’ and insisted that money from the recovery fund would be made available in the form of grants and not loans.

The print edition carries an interview with MEP Ilhan Kyuchuk who comments on how the coronavirus crisis has affected the EU and Bulgaria and on tensions between Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia. Kyuchuk says that the coronavirus crisis has put the EU at a crossroads: to close itself in its national egoism or not to abandon anyone. He says that a chronic problem of the Bulgarian government is the manner of working by trial and error. The government cannot manage a crisis in its entirety but only certain aspects of it. Kyuchuk says that the crisis will help people rely on their discipline. Kyuchuk, who is an EP rapporteur on Northern Macedonia, says that in June the European Commission will submit proposals for draft negotiating frameworks with Northern Macedonia and Albania, which will be endorsed by the European Council in order to call intergovernmental conferences and set a date for the start of negotiations. Of the tensions between Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia Kyuchuk says that what has been achieved so far should not be written off easily and that negotiations should not return every time at the starting point. He says that politicians should continue to create conditions for economic, cultural and personal contacts.

NEW STATE OIL COMPANY

Quoting experts, Troud writes that a new filling station costs 400,000 leva on average without the land and the price varies according the size and the location A new filling station on a highway costs up to 1 million leva. The state plans to build some 100 filling stations as part of its plans to set up a State Oil Company and will have to invest at least 100 million leva. However, the building of new filling stations won’t be financed from the budget, said Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov. The first filling stations are expected to open in the spring of 2021. The state will also set up tax warehouses. This became possible under amendments to the State Reserve and Wartime Stocks Act. The right opposition and the Commission for Protection of Competition have insisted for state tax warehouses. At a news briefing on Monday it transpired there that the government was aiming to set things right on a market where one company, LUKOil Bulgaria, holds 80 per cent of the fuel warehouses. Club Z recalls that already in 2017 it became clear that Lukoil had nearly 80 per cent of the capacity of petrol storage facilities and 90 per cent of diesel storage facilities. The Finance Ministry was forced that disclose this information after then MPs Martin Dimitrov and Peter Slavov from the right oppositions won a case at the Supreme Administrative Court. The problem with the access to the warehouses was identified then, legislative changes were tabled but they did not pass under the second GERB government.

BOJKOV-DOMOUSCHIEV CONTROVERSY

Troud reports that Nova Broadcasting Group owner Kiril Domouschiev will alert the Commission for Protection of Competition about the advertising contract between BTV Media Group and the Bulgarian Sports Totalizator. In a Facebook post he wrote that the contract limits the right of the totalizator to negotiate and conclude a contract with Nova Broadcasting Group. Earlier on Monday, Domouschiev said that in his business he has always complied with the law and ethics in response to fresh disclosures by fugitive gambling mogul Vassil Bojkov. Bojkov showed a memo that Domouschiev demanded that Bojkov paid 240 million leva in advertising fees to his TV over a period of ten years. Nikolai Valkanov, deputy chairman of the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria, told Nova TV that Bojkov’s companies will be removed from the organization as he owes 700 million leva in unpaid obligations.

ECONOMY

Citing preliminary central bank data, Capital Daily writes that between January and March foreign direct investments in the country totalled 254.4 million euro, up from 148.6 million euro in the like period of 2019. However, March recorder an outflow of debt instruments.  At nearly 180 million euro reinvested earnings accounted for the largest portion of foreign direct investments. They are indicative of what portion of the net profits stay with divisions in Bulgaria instead of investors drawing a dividend. Meanwhile, equity recorded a negative value of 46.5 million euro in January-March.
The largest net direct investment inflows in Bulgaria for January – March 2020 were from the Netherlands (190 million euro), Israel (40 million euro), and the UK (16.6 million euro).

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Quoting a Gallup International survey, Douma writes that the coronavirus emergency has discouraged a large part of Bulgarians from taking a holiday this summer. Compared with a similar survey in December, three times fewer people plan on going on a summer holiday. The number of those who will choose Bulgarian sea resorts has gone up by 10 per cent, but there is a general decline in the number of summer holiday makers. The number of those who plan to holiday abroad has dropped from 1.1 million to some 300,000. Nearly two-thirds plan to visit Greece and some 30 per cent Turkey. The planned holiday duration of nine days is slightly longer, while planned holiday expenditure average 1,321 leva.

EDUCATION

Douma frontpages that the Sofia University will admit students without an entry exam in 116 undergraduate programmes including law, journalism and PR. Students will be admitted based on their school matriculations scores. Entry exams will be held only in chemistry, biology and mathematics. Previously, of the university’s 118 undergraduate programs five didn’t acknowledge matriculation scores. These were law, medicine, pharmacy, journalism and PR.

COVID-19

The National Health Insurance Fund plans to recover the money it handed to hospitals and dentists in order to cope with the state of emergency. This has emerged from a transcript of a meeting of the Fund Supervisory Board, Douma writes. Zheni Nacheva, who chairs the board, said that hospitals received an allocation equal to 85 per cent of their reported medical activities for January and February with the idea that the money would be recovered. The Bulgarian Medical Association and the Bulgarian Dental are adamant that they never agreed to returning the money. Vice President Iliana Iotova called “cynical” the idea for those medical establishments which had to limit their activity due to the coronavirus outbreak to return the money.

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Monitor writes that after the Supreme Administrative Court has voided an order by
Health Minister Kiril Ananiev concerning the quarantine measures during the national coronavirus emergency, 4,000 fines issued by police at roadblocks will be cancelled.

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Troud frontpages that kindergartens are expected to reopen by June 1 with groups of up to 14 children who will attend every other week. Experts are adamant the social distancing rules are not possible to comply with. Children wonТt be required to undergo tests and won’t wear face masks. In cases when a child is infected the whole kindergarten will be quarantined.

 

BTA





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