From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Embassy of Bulgaria)
Subject: BTA Inf/July 21, 95
EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF BULGARIA BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY
BULLETIN OF NEWS FROM BULGARIA JULY 21, 1995
Sofia, July 20 (BTA) - The Council of Ministers approved a bill amending the Control of Juvenile Anti- Social Behaviour Act submitted by Justice Minister Mladen Chervenyakov. "The Act was amended ten times from 1958 to 1988 but it is outdated, " Minister Chervenyakov said after the Cabinet's meeting. The international instruments Bulgaria has ratified and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in particular make it necessary to provide a comprehensive legal framework for the protection of chidlren's rights and for the control of juvenile anti-social behaviour.
The Government approved the participation of a Bulgarian contingent - a ten men squad, in a multinational communications exercise to be held in Germany from September 5 through 23, 1995. It is organized within the framework of the Partnership for Peace plan.
The Government allowed the Russian warship "Perekop" to call at Port Varna on July 24-25, 1995.
By decision of the Government, a Bulgarian government delegation will attend the 4th UN conference of women to be held in Beijing from September 4 through 15, 1995.
The Government gave permission for the call of eight foreign warships at the ports of Varna and Bourgas from August 2 through 8, 1995; the vessels will take part in the Breeze '95 exercise.
The Government decided to propose to Parliament to pass a bill ratifying an agreement with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) on a 98 million US dollars loan for the restructuring and modernization of Bulgarian water and sewerage companies. The loan agreement was signed on June 29, 1995. "The investment programme covers over 90 percent of project costs, " Government Spokesman Nikola Baltov said. It provides for the completion of facilities in advanced stage of construction, such as water treatment plants, water supply and sewerage systems, and for investments to limit water losses.
The Government approved a scheme for funding the 3rd ministerial conference "Environment for Europe" which Sofia will host in October 1995. According to the Council of Ministers Spokesman Baltov, it is planned to attract foreign financing of about 25 million leva; the Government will provide 29 million leva. "So far Bulgaria has received funds from Denmark and Norway, " he said.
The Government decided to conclude an agreement with the IBRD on grant aid of 16, 100, 000 yen (about 200, 000 US dollars), which is to be provided by Japan. The money will be used for technical assistance, consulting services and studies of the country's energy system. The arrangements were made at the negotiations of the Bulgarian Government with the World Bank on a loan for the rehabilitation of the Varna and Rousse thermoelectric power stations and the replacement of electric meters (Energy 2 Project).
The Government approved a draft agreement on trade with the Government of Cyprus.
The Government approved a draft agreement on encouragement and the reciprocal protection of investments with the Government of Austria.
The Government will propose to Parliament to ratify Bulgaria's bilateral debt-rescheduling agreement with Spain within the Paris Club arrangements.
"At a closed meeting today, the Cabinet dismissed four members of the Board of Directors of Neftochim Inc. at Bourgas (on the southern Black Sea coast) and appointed five new members, " Government Spokesman Nikola Baltov said. The number of the Board of Directors members is increased from seven to eight.
The Government decided to set up an interdepartmental group to draft a bill amending the Decree on Rabies Control. This is necessary by the sharp increase of stray dogs and the danger of rabies and echinococcosis. More than 14, 000 people have bee vaccinated against rabies since the beginning of the year. According to the Cabinet, the government decree of January 20, 1995 on the implementation of urgent measures for stray dogs control cannot provide a radical solution to the problem and is practically seldom observed.
Sofia, July 20 (BTA) - Today the Government discussed two versions of a bill on financial control. Justice Minister Mladen Chervenyakov and Finance Minister Dimiter Kostov said after the Cabinet's sitting that the ministers opted for the version, which envisages financial control to be exercised not only on state-owed and municipal enterprises, but over a wider range of entities. These include joint stock companies, non-profit corporations, foundations, charity organizations, economic units which hold shares and cooperatives. "This version will provide a more efficient financial control and curbing of economic crime as well as guarantees for the population's interests, " Minister Kostov said. The bill also envisages financial control of the process of privatization and of the transformation of state-owned and municipal enterprises.
Sofia, July 20 (BTA) - For the first time Interior Minister Lyubomir Nachev has admitted that there are criminal rings linked to corrupted bankers in Bulgaria, members of the parliamentary National Security Committee said after the Committee's closed meeting at which Minister Nachev presented a report on crime and crime control. According to MPs citing Nachev, there was a drastic increase in crime rates during the two previous years but a slight drop of 0.4 percent was observed in the first half of 1995. Clear-up rates are about 35 percent. Speaking to journalists after the meeting, Ivan Gloushkov, MP of the opposition Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), called into question the objectivity of Nachev's statistics. National Security Committee Chairman Nikolai Dobrev, who belongs to the ruling Socialist Party Minister Nachev is a member of, thinks otherwise. In his opinion Nachev is very well acquainted with the situation and knows what should be done. Minister Nachev dwelt on the spreading of crime which has tentacles in the upper crust of society. He used terms such as "corrupted bankers" and "criminal economic groups" but did not mention names. According to MP Gloushkov, Nachev admitted in his report there was corruption in the Foreign Ministry system but did not give any specific details or names. The performance of the Interior Ministry in January-June 1995 was analyzed at a special meeting this Wednesday, attended by Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. Videnov stressed the Ministry had chosen the right way out of the crisis and stagnation it got into in the years of transition. The Interior Ministry should focus its efforts on the achievement of results that the public could see, paying special attention to curbing mass and organized crime resolutely and uncompromisingly, the Prime Minister said.
Sofia, July 20 (BTA) - Parliament adopted a decision today authorizing the Government to hold negotiations and conclude an agreement for a Transit Roads 2 ECU 60 million loan from the European Investment Bank. In 1993 Bulgaria concluded a contract for a Transit Road 1 loan from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, amounting to USD 43 million, and from the European Investment Bank, amounting to ECU 21 million. The first loan was used for funding the building of the Trans-European motorway and for the rehabilitation of 600 km of this country's road network. The Government's project provides for upgrading some 1, 000 km of the road network in this country by 1998. To this end it needs ECU 133 million, part of which will come from the Transit Roads 2 loan.
Sofia, July 20 (BTA) - Parliament adopted amendments to the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy Act. Sumbitting the amendment bill in February 1995, the Council of Ministers said in its reasonoing that it was aimed to improve the legal framework of relations arising in connection with the use of atomic energy and to bring the Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy Act, passed in 1985, into line with the social, political and economic realities in the country after the change of its system. The amendments liberalize the use of atomic energy, limiting exclusive state ownership to special nuclear fuel and nuclear facilities only. The monopoly of the State is limited to nuclear fuel extraction, processing, production and trade and to the operation of nuclear facilties. The bill privides for a new system of control and registration of ionization radiation sources, broadening the range of persons who may own and use them, while the State controls the movement of those sources. The civil liability for nuclear damage provisions are amended to bring them into line with the Vienna Convention on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage. Severe pecuniary penalties are introduced for juristic persons violating nuclear and radiation safety rules. Parliament adopted the privatization funds bill, submitted by the Council of Ministers, on first reading. All the parliamentary groups supported the bill in principle, stating that mass privatization could not get off ground without regulating the privatization funds and their activities. Alexander Bozhkov, MP of the Union of Democratic Forces and former executive director of the Privatization Agency, took the floor, demanding that the Government set out its views on the mass privatization technology and programme.
The dailies feature yesterday's report by Foreign Minister Georgi Pirinski before the parliamentary Foreign Affairs Committee. Some dailies report that diplomats of the career described as scandalous a statement by Evgeni Ekov MP of the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization - Union of Macedonian Societies, that Bulgaria should step up its cooperation with Croatia to get back its Western Outlands (a territory in Southeastern Serbia which Bulgaria lost to that country under the 1919 Treaty of Neuilly as a result of its defeat in WW I). According to experts, cited by "Douma", this statement may be interpreted by ill-wishers as a "casus belli". "According to diplomatic practice, the idea expressed by the MP is almost tantamount to a demand for waging war against another state. With all inevitable diplomatic complications, a signed commentary in "Continent" reads.
"We can hardly imagine the economic and political damage which Bulgaria will suffer as a result of its non-accession to NATO, " Ms Leah Cohen, Bulgarian Ambassador in Brussels, says in an extensive interview for "Demokratsiya". "A refusal to enter NATO would also distance us from Central European states such as the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, " Ambassador Cohen says adding that the dispute over NATO membership in Bulgaria was fanned up by purely artificial arguments and non- existent threats. Cohen describes the statement that no one has invited Bulgaria to NATO as demagoguery.
Sofia, July 20 (BTA) - Bulgarian experts are discussing in Damascus possibilities for the settlement of Syria's USD 116 million debt to Bulgaria, "Standart News" reports. The Bulgarian-Syrian Commission for Economic, Scientific and Technological Cooperation is expected to resume its work this autumn after a seven-year break. Last year commercial exchange between the two countries amounted to USD 72.3 million, while in 1993 it was USD 167 million.
The management of Bulgarian State Railways wants a less than 20% increase in fares, "Troud" writes. The increase is proposed in a draft contract with the state for the 1995-1998 period. The signing of such a contract is obligatory, according to the Bulgarian State Railways Act which entered into force in June.
10, 000 million leva are needed for purchasing fuel for the Kozlodoui N-plant (on the Danube), "Douma" reports, citing a reliable source of the National Electricity Company.
The press writes about yesterday's dismissal of five senior officials of the Privatization Agency, sacked "in the interest of efficiency" with an order issued by Privatization Agency Executive Director Vesselin Blagoev.
The press quotes Blagoev as saying that the reason for the dismissals is the unsatisfactory performance of the Agency. He is reportedly dissatisfied with the few number of enterprises ready for sale. "This is my decision and I assume the responsibility for it, " "24 Chassa" quotes Blagoev as saying. Katya Georgieva, one of the dismissed, accuses Blagoev of being "the ideal person to impede privatization" and of "insider trading of information about privatization valuations and documentation".
Stoyan Todorov, another dismissed official, says interviewed by "Troud" that the pressure comes from people in high places, and that the Agency is downsized in favour of the Ministry of Economic Development and the Centre for Mass Privatization.
"The personnel changes were not coordinated with Deputy Prime Minister [and Minister of Economic Development] Roumen Gechev, " "Standart News" says.
"Vesselin Blagoev and his former deputies are accused of one and the same thing: stalling of denationalization, " "Pari" writes.
"As a matter of fact, what we have here is an action which came unexpectedly, against the backdrop of the increasing concentration of the control over the Bulgarian economy on the part of the powers that be, ' says a signed commentary in "Continent".
"The purge will hardly disguise the unsatisfactory results, posted by the Agency, " "Demokratsiya" says.
Sofia, July 20 (BTA) - Nearly 75 percent of private companies in Bulgaria reported profit for 1994, data released by the National Statistical Institute (NSI) show. Their proceeds totalled 318, 000 million leva, 98 percent of which from the sale of output, goods and services. The statistics are based on consolidated data provided by over 187, 000 operative private companies. More than 50 percent of them are trading enterprises but the number of companies engaged in industrial production and services is increasing. The assets of private companies totalled 110, 000 million leva at the end of 1994; this accounts for about 10 percent of the assets of all Bulgarian enterprises. The amount of assets rose 2-3-fold in the last years. This shows that the private sector plays an increasingly significant role in the country's economy, NSI Spokesman Dimiter Fratev said. The financial state of most private companies is good, statistics indicate. Unlike state-run enterprises, they do not owe large amounts to the Exchequer, their employees and suppliers. Compared to 1993, the number of profit-making companies has increased, statisticians say. However, most of them are small and medium-size enterprises. The revenue of 84 percent of them is up to 1 million leva, 13 percent reported revenue from 1 to 10 million leva and the revenue of only 2 percent is over 10 million leva. Largest is the profit earned by companies operating in trade, construction and in finance and banking. At present 90 percent of private companies do not employ manpower outside the owner's family. Only 0.1 percent of private companies employ more than 50 persons.
Sofia, July 20 (BTA) - Despite the lowering of inflation rates over the last few months, Bulgarian people are getting poorer, show the results of a poll, conducted by the National Statistical Institute (NSI) in June. The poll features personal estimates of consumers of their financial condition, but they are confirmed by statistical figures about households' income and expenses. Most of the respondents believe that their financial state has worsened. 61 per cent say that they hardly manage to make ends meet and 10 per cent are heavily indebted. Less than 1 per cent of the respondents make significant savings, following the proverb "a penny for a rainy day". 13 per cent manage to make small savings, and another 12 per cent not only cannot afford to save, but are even forced to withdaw from their savings to cope with daily expenses. According to statistics, the share of food expenses has grown considerably by more than 10 per cent against the first quarter of 1994. At the same time expenses on clothes, shoes etc, have dropped due to the significant mark-up of certain staple goods like foods, rents, transport services, electricity. The prices of these goods have more than doubled within only six months. Despite inflation drop, Bulgarian people do not enjoy better life, head of Prices and Statistics department with the NSI Velichka Rangelova commented for BTA. She sees the reasons in the rather low living standards, which have dropped 45 per cent over the last four years. As another factor for the pauperization she cites the fact that inflation is not fully adjusted by cost-of-living allowances.
Sofia, July 20 (BTA) - In June 1995 production rose 1.5 percent from the same month of 1994, the National Statistical Institute (NSI) told a news conference today. The total output in June is estimated at almost 47, 000 million leva, the output in January-June 1995 added up to 373, 000 million leva, which is 1 percent more compared to the like period of last year. The increase is largely due to services, while industrial production stayed at June 1994 level. There was a slight drop in agriculture, about 1 percent. The lack of growth in industrial production is explained with the fact that two of the country's biggest enterprises, the Neftochim refinery at Burgas and the Copper Works at Pirdop, which acccount for a large share in the industrial output, are under repair. At the same time half of the industries recorded a growth, with the food-processing industry increasing its output for the first time in years - by almost 9 percent this June, NSI Spokesman Dimiter Fratev said. Highest is the gowth rate of ferrous metallurgy, 36 percent, and of the chemical and oil-processing industry, 15.7 percent. The growth of industrial production is largely due to increased opportunities for export, statisticians say. Data show that more than 30 percent of the country's total output is exported. On the other hand there is a downward trend in sales on the domestic market. Domestic market sales dropped 3 percent in January-June 1995 compared to the like period of 1994, although sales by the private sector, which accounts for two-thirds of total sales at home, rose 12 percent. Though production has been gradually steadying, the shrinkage of the home market is an alarming symptom of eroding purchasing power and lowering living standards, NSI President Zahari Karamfilov said.