Sofia, May 11 (BTA) - The cabinet will head the Bulgarian delegation leaving on Monday for the annual general meeting of the International Bank for Economic Cooperation and the International Investment Bank. So far Bulgaria was represented by the National Bank of Bulgaria (BNB) at the two COMECON banks. BNB Governor Todor Vulchev asked the cabinet to do this in future, the dailies report. Today the cabinet is expected to pronounce on Prof. Vulchev's request. Bulgaria owes the two banks over 800 million dollars, "Standart News" says.
Bulgaria has paid 16 million dollars in interest payments to the Paris Club of official creditors this week, says "Pari" quoting central bank sources. Bulgaria's debt to the Paris Club totals 1,200 million dollars.
Bulgaria's foreign exchange reserve totalled 1,342 million dollars in late March, "Pari" says quoting BNB sources. The gold reserve, which is not included in the foreign exchange reserve, amounted to 400 million dollars, the daily says.
A portion of Bulgaria's debt to Germany may go towards a social investment fund in this country, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev told diplomats at the International Business Centre yesterday, "Standart News" reports. Gechev and Finance Minister Dimiter Kostov will table the proposal during their upcoming visit to Germany.
Sofia, May 11 (BTA) - Today, the Council of Ministers approved a request of the Minister of Agriculture and Food-Processing Vassil Chichibaba to amend the draft decrees on financial assistance for spring farm works and autumn sowing.
The budget allocation for spring sowing and agrotechnical measures for autumn and perennial crop growing was increased by 125 million leva, from 750 million to 875 million leva from former 750 million. This leaves some 560 million leva available for lending, in addition to the 3,000 million leva credit resource. Motivating his proposal, Mr Chichibaba said that the 3,000 million leva in question covered only 6 percent of the expenditure on farm works in 1995, not counting the harvest.
Sofia, May 11 (BTA) - The National Assembly ratified today the loan agreement on a project for the promotion of agriculture between Bulgaria and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). The agreement was signed on July 21, 1994 in Washington and was approved by the Government in February, 1995.
Under the agreement, the IBRD will release a 50 million US dollar credit line in support of Bulgarian agriculture. The funds will be available only to private companies and manufacturers dealing with agriculture, cooperative farms and enterprises with at least 51 per cent private participation operating in the field of agriculture, food processing, farm transport, trade and craftsmanship. The loan is to be repaid within 12 years and envisages a grace period of at least two years, depending on the project. Bulgaria believes that the loan agreement will help improve the conditions for the promotion of the private sector in agriculture and will encourage the establishment of competitive small and medium-sized enterprises.
Sofia, May 11 (BTA) - "The economic reform in Bulgaria is on the right track, but privatization is slow," Peter Tils and Michael Endres of Deutsche Bank said, meeting with President Zhelyu Zhelev here today.
According to the two Deutche Bank officials, who conferred with the President at their request, telecommunications were most attracive for foreign investors, but there was lack of interest in Bulgarian banks, the President's Economic Advisor Boyan Slavenkov told journalists.
Mr Tils and Mr Endres inquired about the amount of losses which Bulgaria suffered from the Yugoembargo and about Bulgaria's initiatives in search of compensations for these loses.
Deutsche Bank will open a consultative office in Bulgaria, Mr Slavenkov said.
Later in the day, the Deutsche Bank officials were received by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development Roumen Gechev. They focussed on privatization, attraction of foreign investments to Bulgaria and the Government's negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Mr Tils noted that Bulgaria has started to emerge from the crisis, which will increase the economic interest of potential foreign participants in denationalization.
It is extremely important that before the start of mass privatization the Government make its tenure and privatization programmes available to the European and the world economic press, as well as to business circles, Mr Tils said. He stressed the steady interest which German businessmen in Bulgarian chemical industry, telecommunications and tourism, according to the Government Press Office.
Sofia, May 11 (BTA) - The National Assembly opened a debate on a new defence and armed forces bill, moved by the Council of Ministers. An earlier defence and armed forces bill was debated by the prevous parliament but it did not manage to pass it before the end of its life.
Parliament voted by a large majority to approve on first reading amendments to the Pensions Act, which provide for an increase of pensions of WW II veterans and disabled veterans.
After a heated debate, the Socilaist-led majority in Parliamnet voted through on first reading a bill granting the participants in the anti-fascist resistance in the 1939-1945 period the status of World War II veterans who fought on the side the anti-Hitler coalition. MPs of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces and the Popular Union opposed the bill. Socialists and members of the opposition argued vehemently over the nature of the anti-fascist struggle in Bulgaria in the early 1940s.
Later in the day, the parliamnetary group of the Democratic Left (the coalition led by the Bulgarian Socialist Party) circulated a declaration, describing the bill as a "token of the people's respect towards the self-sacrifice of the warriors of Bulgarian anti-fascist movements - partisans, concentration camp inmates and political prisoners." "Sadly, there are political forces and leaders in the Bulgarian Parliamnet, who remain captive of their ideological bias and are not able to relaize the forceful lesson of history," the declaration reads.
In the same connection, the parliamentary group of the Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) issued a declaration saying that UDF respects the heroism of the real anti-fascists, but cannot agree that the people who used the victory over fascism to install an even more terrible dictatorship in Bulgaria, should be granted moral and material privlleges.
MPs of the UDF say that the bill actually restores the privilliges of the active fighters against fascism and capitalism and belies BSP's claims that it has broken with its communist past.
Sofia, May 11 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Government's prompt measures against the illegal manufacture and distribution of sound recordins, including adoption of respective legislation and signing of a bilateral agreement with the United States on April 28, helped for Bulgaria's deletion from the black lists of pirate states, Mr Jason Berman, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Recording Industry Association of America said here today. Mr Berman has been in Sofia since May 10 at the invitation of the Ministry of Culture. The United States will grant Bulgaria technical, technological and financial assistance in the building of a network to control copyright protection.
Bulgaria ranked second in the black lists after China. The seven-hour time difference between Bulgaria and the US made it possible to sign the bilateral agreement with the US on time, on April 30. One of the conditions the United States had stipulated before signing the agreement was that Bulgaria ratifies e Geneva and Rome conventions for the protection of sound recording copyrights. The Bulgarian National Assembly acceded to the conventions on April 25. Under the signed bilateral agreement, importers of audio and video products will only be granted visas after a check by the International Federation of Producers of Phonograms and Videograms (IFPI) and after their products receive a special hologram mark.
Sofia, May 11 (BTA) - The function and the importance of the Council of Europe in the contemporary European architecture and the problems of its further expansion were the issues, covered by Bulgarian Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski in his address to the 96th session of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in Strassburg. By the end of the year the Council of Europe is expected to be joined by Albania and Moldova, and in the nearest future by the countries of the region of Caucasus and the Russian Federation, Minister Pirinski told reporters after his return to Bulgaria.
Mr Pirinski also talked about the correlation between the functions of the Council of Europe, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Union in the context of European cooperation. He also focused on the further development of the mechanisms used by the Council of Europe and the assistance it should offer to its members.
According to a news release of the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry, in his address Minister Pirinski also emphasized that among the other European institutions, the Council of Europe, with its generally recognized achievements in the assertion of human rights, has been called to be one of the pillars of democratic security on the European continent under the decisions of its 1993 Vienna meeting. The organisation should be guided in its future work to this end by the principles of cooperation, equality, closer unity of the European states as well as non-discrimination.