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News from Bulgaria, 96-07-11

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

11 July, 1996


CONTENTS

  • [01] TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
  • [02] PRESIDENT ZHELEV CONFERS WITH BAKERS
  • [03] PM VIDENOV RECEIVES MALTESE PM ADAMI
  • [04] HANS-DIETRICH GENSCHER VISITS
  • [05] MPS OF EU AND ASSOCIATED COUNTRIES MEET
  • [06] MEMORANDUM ON ECU 7 MILLION
  • [07] FOREIGN CURRENCY RESERVES
  • [08] STANDBY AGREEMENT WITH I.M.F.
  • [09] CREDIT RATING
  • [10] STATISTICIANS PREDICT HIGH INFLATION
  • [11] ENVIRONMENT TRUST FUND
  • [12] TRIPARTITE TALKS ON INCOMES AND SOCIAL SECURITY CONTINUE

  • [01] TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:

    The Embassy of Bulgaria in Washington D.C. and The Vassil Levsky National Committee are honored to inform you that an opening ceremony of the Vassil Levsky bust is scheduled for Thursday, July 18, 1996, his 159th anniversary, at 12:00 noon.

    The unveiling ceremony will take place on the grounds in front of the Embassy building at 1621 22nd St. N.W., Washington D.C. and will be attended by well-known Bulgarian intellectuals, Holy Synod officials and prominent Bulgarian-Americans.

    Due to his busy schedule, President Zheliu Zhelev will not be able to attend the ceremony.

    The monument's installation is sponsored by the "13 Centuries of Bulgaria" Fund and the "Vassil Levsky" Foundation.

    This is the first monument of Bulgaria's national liberation hero to be opened on the American continent.

    Vassil Levsky (1837-1873) was the visionary and nation-wide leader of the Bulgarian revolutionary movement against the five-centuries' Ottoman rule. His goal was the reestablishment of Bulgaria's independence and sovereignty, his ideal being the emergence of a Bulgarian republic where people of all nationalities and religions could live peacefully together and be treated equally.

    The kind attendance of all Bulgarians and friends of Bulgaria in the United States is most welcome.

    For additional information:

    Ms. Volia Changova &gt;
    Mr. Boyan Papazov, Cultural Attache (202) 387 7969
    Mr. Michail Christov, Press Attache (202) 387 7969
    Ms. Anni Djelepova, Information Officer (202) 387 7969

    [02] PRESIDENT ZHELEV CONFERS WITH BAKERS

    Sofia, July 10 (BTA) - In the autumn a loaf of bread will cost about 70 leva and may reach 100 leva by New Year, Rangel Cholakov, Chairman of the Union of Private Bread Producers in Bulgaria, said at a meeting with Bulgarian President Zhelyu Zhelev today. The state has to pursue a balanced policy in regard to the purchase, storage and distribution of grain, Cholakov stated.

    This year the harvest will be some 600,000 tons short of the quantity need to meet the population's demands, Stefan Neshev, Chairman of the Commission for Protection of Competition, said. According to Neshev, the purchase price of the grain in the autumn will not exceed 28 leva/kg.

    [03] PM VIDENOV RECEIVES MALTESE PM ADAMI

    Sofia, July 10 (BTA) - Today Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov received Maltese Prime Minister Edward Fenech Adami. Mr Adami arrived here today to watch the performance of the Maltese platoon at the Cooperative Determination '96 exercises held near Belene in Northern Bulgaria. The two prime ministers discussed Balkan cooperation, the European integration processes, the relations between Bulgaria and Malta and the possibility of their further activation, the Government Spokesman said.

    Mr Videnov briefed Mr Adami about this country's strategy for accession to the European Union and stressed the importance of confidence-building measures in Europe. The two government leaders agreed that the peace process in the Middle East is very important for general stability. This is Mr Adami's first visit to Bulgaria. He invited Mr Videnov to visit Malta at his convenience.

    [04] HANS-DIETRICH GENSCHER VISITS

    Sofia, July 10 (BTA) - "Bulgaria must be included in the negotiations with the European Union right from the beginning along with all other Associated Countries," former German vice chancellor and foreign minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher said upon his arrival here today. "It is a great pleasure to be able to be here at the invitation of the Chairman of the Bulgarian National Assembly so as to meet with the President of the Republic [Zhelyu Zhelev], the Prime Minister [Zhan Videnov] and the Minister of Foreign Affairs [Zhan Videnov], with representatives of the different political forces," Mr Genscher added. He is pleased to be back in Bulgaria after five years during which, in his view, Bulgaria has achieved remarkable progress along the road to democracy. Mr Genscher emphasized that apart from traditional friendship, Bulgaria and Germany are further linked by connections in the European Union: Germany is full member, Bulgaria - an Associated Country. They also share a membership in the North Atlantic Cooperation Council and Partnership for Peace.

    Later in the day Mr Genscher conferred with Parliamentary Deputy Chairman Nora Ananieva. Ananieva familiarized the guest with the performance of the Bulgarian Parliament focusing on the consensus among all political forces in regard to the European orientation of the country. She noted the large number of laws adopted by the National Assembly and the efforts to harmonize them with European legal norms. Hans-Dietrich Genscher said that in his view Bulgaria consistently pursues a course of reforms. He said he favours an equal treatment of all countries seeking integration into the EU and noted that all EU associated countries should attend the sessions of the EU Council of Ministers.

    This evening Genscher had meetings with representatives of liberal circles in Bulgaria. Attending were President Zhelyu Zhelev, patron of the Liberal International, leaders of the New Choice Union, the Radical Democratic Party and others. "Hans-Dietrich Genscher remains one of the greatest politicians of the century not only for Germany but for the whole world. As Germany's foreign minister of long standing he contributed to the changes in our world which would have been difficult to imagine without his activity," President Zhelev said.

    [05] MPS OF EU AND ASSOCIATED COUNTRIES MEET

    Brussels, July 10 (BTA exclusive by Simeon Vassilev, correspondent of the Bulgarian National Television) - A Parliamentary delegation, led by National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov, took part in the third meeting of the European Parliament and MPs of the EU associated countries from Central and Eastern Europe.

    At the meeting Sendov raised the issue of the participation of Bulgarian MPs in the operation of the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and Industrial Policy with the European Parliament. The potentials of the interparliamentary committees should be used more fully, Sendov stated. He brought up the question of the so-called minimal membership criteria. They will be specified in white papers and will pertain to human rights, economic development, farm production and others.

    "I am very pleased that during the discussion of security problems in Europe, European Commissioner Hans van den Broek praised regional cooperation and especially the Sofia meeting of the foreign ministers of South Eastern Europe [held last weekend]. In the European Parliament this meeting is viewed as a part of the general strategy for Europe's economic development and security," Sendov stated. Sendov said that other chairpersons of Central and East European parliaments also insist on receiving more detailed information on the progress of the Intergovernmental Conference.

    [06] MEMORANDUM ON ECU 7 MILLION

    Sofia, July 10 (BTA) - A memorandum on the granting of ECU 7 million (about 9 million US dollars) for nuclear safety in Bulgaria was signed today by Minister of Trade and Foreign economic Cooperation Atanas Paparizov, national PHARE-programme coordinator, and Ambassador Thomas O'Sullivan, Head of EU Delegation in Sofia.

    Mr Sullivan said that views may differ, but a common solution to problems could always be found. He said that the development of the nuclear power industry was absolutely necessary for all other economic sectors, adding that the EU could share its experience in nuclear safety with Bulgaria. Bulgaria has received nearly 1,000 million dollars under PHARE over the last ten years, Mr O'Sullivan said. According to him, the implementation of this large project is an expression of the support for the measures applied by the Bulgarian Government and of the hope for Bulgaria's success.

    According to Mr Paparizov, the money is intended to fund specific activities of the Committee for Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, to boost cooperation between the nuclear power plant at Kozlodoui and the N-plants in Western Europe and to finance the exchange of experts. This is a process which has been going on for several years, Mr Paparizov said.

    [07] FOREIGN CURRENCY RESERVES

    Bulgaria's foreign currency reserves may decrease to as little as USD 100 million after the July payments on this country's foreign debt, the press says, quoting central bank Governor Lyubomir Filipov. The foreign currency reserves will amount to about USD 50 million in early August, Finance Minister Dimiter Kostov confirmed yesterday. Central bank data put the foreign currency reserves at USD 600 million in late June.

    The Cabinet reportedly forced some commercial banks to sell foreign currency for the debt payments, "Pari" says, citing unnamed informed sources. Kostov did not rule out the information and said that half of the USD 280 million in due payments have already been bought, "Pari" says.

    Citing a Reuters report, "Standart News" says that Bulbank sold some USD 80 million to the Finance Ministry to ensure the payments. The foreign currency sold by Bulbank led to a record-high turnover of about USD 110 million at the foreign exchange market where daily usual trading amounts to USD 20 million to 30 million, "Standart News" says.

    [08] STANDBY AGREEMENT WITH I.M.F.

    It is prectically certain that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will extend funds to Bulgaria under its fourth standby agreement by the end of July, central bank Governor Filipov said upon his arrival from Basle yesterday, "Standart News" writes. According to Filipov, the IMF is ready to disburse more money than what it extended in the first tranche, which will enable Bulgaria make its foreign debt payments. According to Filipov, the money will amount to some USD 100 million.

    [09] CREDIT RATING

    The talks with Moody's international consultancy company with the Bulgarian Finance Ministry and the central bank ended but it is not clear when Bulgaria will be given a credit rating. This country needs such a rating so as to be able to issue government securities on the international markets, "Douma" says. Bulgaria reportedly started negotiations with the U.S. GP Morgan Bank to underwrite the securities issue.

    [10] STATISTICIANS PREDICT HIGH INFLATION

    Sofia, July 10 (BTA) - The National Statistical Institute (NSI) yesterday put June inflation at 20.3 per cent, the highest monthly figure since the start of the year. According to the official statistics, inflation was 2.4 per cent in January 1996 but soared to a double-digit level - 12.5 per cent, in May. The June 1996 inflation is close to the all-time monthly record of 21.4 per cent. The NSI experts say such high inflation is unprecedented for the summer season. The steepest price rises were for transport and communications (89.2 per cent), spirits (77.2 per cent), eggs (90 per cent), coffee (57 per cent), tobacco goods (44.6 per cent) and household energy (41.8 per cent). Inflation eroded personal savings by 7 per cent in June.

    The average monthly wage in dollar terms plummeted from 122 US dollars in May to 65 dollars in July. At the end of June, 1 US dollar exchanged for 155 leva along the official rate, up from 132.46 leva at the beginning of the month. NSI experts expect July inflation to be higher because of the appreciation of some staple goods and services. Electricity and heat power went 118 per cent up, value added tax was hiked from 18 to 22 per cent, urban transport fares are 50 per cent up, excise duties rose from 10 to 30 per cent on alcoholic drinks, 30 per cent on Bulgarian and 50 per cent on imported cigarettes, postal charges appreciated 20 per cent and telephone rates 40 per cent, and water for household uses jumped from 12 to 17 leva/cu m.

    The new electricity price alone will push the cost of living up by some 8 per cent in July, according to the Chairman of the National Pricing Commission Dimiter Grivekov. According to the latest NSI figures, the average monthly wage in Bulgaria is 9,800 leva. Statistical studies show that a family of four already would need 55,000 leva a month for decent living.

    [11] ENVIRONMENT TRUST FUND

    Sofia, July 10 (BTA) - By July 10, 1996 the National Environment Trust Fund held over 223 million leva, said its President, Dr Valentin Bossevski. The Fund was established in implementation of an agreement between Bulgaria and Switzerland on a "debt for environment" swap, whereby Swizterland wrote off 20 per cent of the 100 million Swiss francs which Bulgaria owes it while Bulgaria undertook to spend the lev equivalent of the sum on green projects, in addition to the national budget allocations. The agreement was signed during the Third Ministerial Conference "Environment for Europe," held in Sofia last October. On March 30 the Bulgarian Government credited to the Fund the first out of a total of eight tranches, 215,530,296 leva in lev equivalent. The second tranche is due on September 30. The money raised in the Fund will be spent above all on projects which will help mitigate environmental pollution. The first disbursement from the Fund will be for the safe disposal of pesticides which are particularly hazardous for the environment and human health. These chemicals of unidentified origin are now dispersed in various storehouses and are not guarded adequately, said Deputy Environment Minister Yordan Ouzounov, who is Deputy Chairman of the Governing Board of the National Environment Trust Fund. It is planned to have the pesticides destroyed abroad because it is unfeasible to buy a plant worth over 50 million US dollars for the purpose. The World Bank provided more than 285,000 US dollars for construction and appointment of an office for the National Trust Fund. Apart from government institutions, non-governmental ecologist organizations and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences are also represented on its Governing Board.

    [12] TRIPARTITE TALKS ON INCOMES AND SOCIAL SECURITY CONTINUE

    Sofia, July 10 (Andrei Sharkov of BTA) - Tomorrow the Council of Ministers will start considering draft decrees, proposed by the Standing Committee on Incomes, Prices and Standards of Living within the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation (NCTC), on increasing the minimum wage and a cost-of-living adjustment of pensions, salaries in the state-financed sector and incomes in the productive sphere by an average of 25 percent as from July 1, 1996, Doncho Konakchiev, Deputy Prime Minister and NCTC Chairman, said after today's meeting of NCTC.

    Several draft decrees - on the establishment of a fund for providing assistance to families, the protection of households in the low income brackets against the steep rise in the prices of energy resources and the cost-of-living adjustment of wages and other incomes received by different social groups as of October 1 - were returned to the NCTC Committee on Incomes, Prices and Standards of Living for reconsideration.

    Mr Konakchiev sent a letter to Krustyu Petkov, President of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB), thanking him for the memorandum proposing measures for overcoming the economic and social crisis introduced before the NCTC today. The memorandum is signed by CITUB, the Podkrepa Labour Confederation (the other major trade union amalgamation in Bulgaria) and one of the employers' organizations in the NCTC, the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA). The document, drawn on the basis of a CITUB draft of July 4, 1996, provides for a bonded loan secured by state property for 100,000 million leva (US dollar one exchanges for about 180 leva) and a temporary freeze of salaries in dollar terms and the prices of some 30 goods and services. The trade unions and the BIA propose a number of measures aimed to protect people who will become redundant during the structural reform of the economy.

    The package of measures in the memorandum, which Mr Konakchiev sent to the NCTC committees for further consideration, contains new programmes for employment, wages and keeping their level in dollar terms. The trade unions will propose to the Government a structure of the 1997 national budget and a methodology for the structural adjustment of the economy and the rehabilitation of banking, Podkrepa Vice President Dimiter Manolov told a news conference yesterday. Today the third trade union in the NCTC, the Community of Free Trade Union Organizations in Bulgaria, insisted on giving priority to the problem of incomes in culture and science, Mr Konakchiev told reporters.

    After a series of industry-wide and local strikes and other protest actions of variable success in April-May, the CITUB, Podkrepa and other public organizations staged a number of rallies and nation-wide protests against the income policy of the Government. The protest actions were prompted by the start of the structural adjustment of the economy announced by the Government, its decision to wind up 64 loss-making state enterprises and block the access of 70 ones to bank loans, growing unemployment rates and the erosion of incomes.

    The impoverishment of Bulgarians as a result of rampant inflation in the last few months, the several price leaps and the start of the structural reform which both the CITUB and Podkrepa believe was unsuccessful made the two trade union amalgamations walk out of the NCTC several times in May-July. Last autumn the CITUB stated it would abandon the non-political nature of its activities. After yesterday's meeting with leaders of Podkrepa, a representative of the largest opposition formation in Bulgaria, the Union of Democratic Forces, said that the two roganizations would work for toppling the Cabinet and for early parliamentary elections.


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