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News from Bulgaria, 96-07-17
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From: Embassy of Bulgaria <firstname.lastname@example.org>
EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.
BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCY
17 July, 1996
 U.S. GRANTS 100,000 DOLLARS FOR N-PLANT UPGRADINGSofia, July 16 (BTA) - The US Government will grant to Bulgaria 100,000 US dollars for modernization of the Kozlodoui Nuclear Power Plant on the Danube, the Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources said in a press release. An agreement to this end was signed today byEnergy and Energy Resources Minister Roumen Ovcharov and the Director of the US Trade and Development Agency J. Joseph Grandmaison. "Small as it is, this aid will enable Bulgaria to implement the updating and remodelling project for Kozlodoui Units 5 and 6 using state-of-the-art technologies," Mr Ovcharov said, expressing his conviction that part of these technologies will come from the United States. What matters most to the growth of any economy is the availability of a safe and secure energy source, Mr Grandmaison said. He told his hosts that President Clinton is committed to the pursuit of partnership between the US and Bulgaria. The grant aid is intended to finance the purchase of goods and services needed for the working out of procedures for the holding of an auction for modernization of the two units.
 FIRST BULGARIAN MISSION UNDER TREATY ON OPEN SKIESBonn, July 16 (BTA Exclusive by Simeon Vassilev) - A group of 20 Bulgarian officers of the air forces and of the Arms Control Agency with the Bulgarian General Staff are on the first Bulgarian mission under the Treaty on Open Skies in Germany. The visit will end on July 19.
The Bulgarian military pilots will conduct a practice observation mission which includes a demonstration flight to determine the minimum height for cameras to operate properly, an observational flight and a ground checkup.
The Bulgarian officers implement the mission with AN-30 aircraft. A group of German officers will arrive on a similar mission to Bulgaria from August 26 to 30. "We chose Germany as the first country to implement the mission because we have excellent relations with our German colleagues who possess a great deal of expertise in arms control, " Colonel Lyudmil Lilov, who heads the Bulgarian delegation, said.
The Treaty on Open Skies, concluded on March 24, 1992, is the first agreement signed on a non-bloc basis; it seeks to help in the strengthening of confidence and security. The Bulgarian Parliament ratified it on February 16, 1994.
 PRESIDENT ZHELEV ADDRESSES THE NATIONSofia, July 16 (BTA) - "Neither Parliament nor the Council of Minister nor any other body can presume to judge the constitutionality of the instruments issued by the head of state. Only the Constitutional Court can pass such judgement, if petitioned after the promulgation," President Zhelyu Zhelev said in an express address to the nation in connection with the two different versions of issue No.60 of the "Official Gazette" today. One version promulgates the presidential decrees appointing the presidents of the Supreme Administrative Court and the Supreme Court of Cassation, and the other version omits these decrees. "The decrees are subject to promulgation in the "Official Gazette," which is the official print publication of the Republic of Bulgaria," President Zhelev said. "Nobody can presume to halt the promulgation of an instrument issued by the head of state, even the Chairman of the National Assembly, who is enjoined with the implementation of the "Official Gazette" Act. A flagrant violation of the country's Constitution has been committed by the attempt to suppress instruments of one of the main institutions of State. Today's case sets a dangerous precedent which deals a blow to statehood and calls into question the functioning of the institutions of State," Dr Zhelev said. "The political responsibility entirely rests with the ruling party which recently has identified itself with the State on a number of occasions, flagrantly violating the Constitution and the laws," President Zhelev also said. "Exercising my powers, I will petition the Constitutional Court to pass on the constitutionality of the BSP [Bulgarian Socialist Party]," the Bulgarian head of state said, wrapping up his remarks.
On June 26, 1996 the Supreme Judicial Council nominated Roumen Yankov as President of the Supreme Court of Cassation and Vladislav Slavov as President of the Supreme Administrative Court. The two courts have not yet been constituted. Justice Minister Mladen Chervenyakov, who is the ex officio chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council, contested the legitimacy of the nomination procedure, describing it as a "politically motivated farce." On June 27 President Zhelev decreed the two appointments, but Mr Chervenyakov refused to countersign the decrees. A day later the parliamentary majority pushed through a resolution which determined that issuing of acts connected with the Supreme Administrative Court, the Supreme Administrative Court and the appellate courts was inadmissible and obligated the Government to introduce the Supreme Administrative Court Bill and the acts regulating three-instance administration of justice by October 1996. A week later, Parliament passed amendments to the Judiciary Act, according to which the Supreme Judicial Council may not nominate the presidents of the Supreme Administrative Court and the Supreme Court of Cassation, their deputies and the judges in the appellate courts and the Military Appellate Court before passage of a Supreme Administrative Court Act and of procedural laws regulating the three-instance administration of justice.
 BULGARIAN MPS IN CHINABeijing, July 16 (BTA) - A Bulgarian Parliamentary delegation headed by National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov today arrived on a visit to China.
On the first day of their visit the Bulgarian MPs met the Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, Qiao Shi. The talks stressed the favourable cooperation prospects. Blagovest Sendov and Qiao Shi pledged to do their best to overcome the stagnation in bilateral economic relations using the potential of parliamentary dialogue. The sides were unanimous that the late May visit to China of Bulgarian Prime Minister Zhan Videnov paved the way for a tangible progress in business and economic cooperation and restoring the old contacts between the two countries.
Earlier today the Bulgarian delegation visited a Bulgarian- Chinese plant for production of fruit juice near Beijing that is just to be launched. The joint venture has a USD 4,290,000 capital in which Bulgaria holds 49%. The plant is operating with 100% Bulgarian equipment and will use a Bulgarian technology for production of fruit juice and concentrate.
 I.M.F. REPRESENTATIVE ROZWADOWSKI DENIES ANY SECRET AGREEMENT BETWEEN GOVERNMENT AND I.M.FSofia, July 16 (Anna Moudeva of BTA) - There is no secret agreement between the government and IMF and the idea itself does not make much sense, International Monetary Fund Resident Representative Franek Rozwadowski said in an exclusive interview for the BTA. Late last week Krustyu Petkov, leader of one of Bulgaria's most influent unions told a news conference the Bulgarian government and the IMF have agreed secretly on a several-fold depreciation of the lev, sale of major enterprises at a third of their value and hyperinflation, in exchange for a fourth standby lending agreement. The IMF is supporting a government programme which is designed to limit inflation, not create inflation, and which is designed to have the exchange rate reach an equilibrium level, Mr Rozwadowski says responding to the allegations of the trade union leader. He added further that the IMF would like Bulgaria to sell its enterprises at the best prices it can get.
The IMF Board of Governors will consider the signing of the lending agreement on July 19. The total amount of the loan will be SDR 400 million that will be distributed in eight tranches. The first tranche of SDR 80 million will become available immediately after the signing of the agreement. The remaining SDR 320 million will come in seven equal tranches, two of them by the end of this year and the rest in 1997 and 1998.
The IMF does not have any specific requirements about the way the government will utilize the loan. It is, though, required to continue implementing the structural and macroeconomic policies that it has decided to implement. Mr Rozwadowski believes the government has shown progress in carrying out the reform in the past two or three months. In the real economy sector the progress has been in preparation of the reforms. A number of necessary measures have been taken in the banking sector as well.
The depreciation of the lev and the high inflation in June and July were in line with the IMF expectations, the interviewer said. In the projections that the IMF did together with the government, these two phenomena were expected in the first months of implementing the government reform programme. It does not mean one should expect that the lev would continue depreciating: at a certain point it is likely to appreciate, said the IMF official. He expects inflation will be much lower at the end of the year.
The reason why the IMF has decided to support the government reform programme is that it sees it as a strong programme, as the programme Bulgaria needs to address the structural problems, said Mr Rozwadowski. We also said the IMF will encourage the government to continue implementing its programme.
 COAL PROBLEMSDue to the increase of coal prices on the world market almost all offers filed with the National Electricity Company (NEC) exceed 43 US dollars per ton and NEC may fail to buy the needed amounts for the winter season, "24 Chassa" writes. The former chief of the Energy Committee (now upgraded to a ministry) Konstantin Roussinov set a floor price of 43 US dollars/ton for the purchase of coal in order to foil possible attempts of suppliers to blackmail the NEC by offering high prices, the paper recalls.
Yesterday NEC Board of Directors discussed a new way of handling payments to suppliers and decided to ask the Ministry of Energy and Energy Resources to raise the floor price of 43 US dollars/ton, "24 Chassa" says. Bulgaria has signed an agreement with Vietnam for the import of cheaper coal but due to its low quality the country will have to negotiate supplies from Ukraine, according to the paper.
Part of the expenses on the supplies of materials and reconstruction of the Varna thermo-electric power station (on of the largest in the country) will be covered by the 10 million Ecu worth grant aid which the European Commission will extend in exchange of a pledge by Bulgaria to make an analysis of the controversial Unit One of the Kozlodoui Nuclear Power Plant, the paper goes on to say. In the nearest future energy experts will meet with Thomas O'Sullivan, Head of Delegation of the European Commission, to specify the term for receiving the funds.
 PROGRESS OF MASS PRIVATIZATIONOf the total of 84 privatization funds with approved prospectuses in Bulgaria only 42 have published summaries and messages for raising of capital, "Pari" quotes Hristiyan Tanoushev, Chairman of the Securities and Stock Exchanges Commission, as saying at a seminar in Sofia. Under the existing legislation only privatization funds which have published such summaries can collect voucher books.
The Commission has to consider other 15 prospectuses of privatization funds by the week's end, the paper says. The term for raising the minimum capital of 70,000 leva required by the funds expires next week, "Pari" writes.
By the end of last week 300,000 voucher books were transferred to relatives and 170,000 were entrusted to privatization funds, "Pari" writes citing figures of the Centre for Mass Privatization. The deadline for the transfer of voucher books is July 31, 1996.
By the month's end the "Official Gazette" is to run the minimum prices of the shares of all enterprises listed for voucher privatization, "Standart News" says.
 SOCIALISTS WANT PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION TO BE HELD ON OCTOBER 27Sofia, July 16 (BTA) - The Socialists want to have the presidential elections held on October 27. A sitting of the top leadership of the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) today took a decision on the launch of consultations with all parliamentary forces to set a date for the elections and the lineup of the Central Electoral Commission, Filip Bokov of the BSP leadership told a news conference today. Bokov is also campaign manager of Socialist presidential candidate Georgi Pirinski. He said the consultations are expected to end by next Wednesday.
On Saturday, July 20, the BSP leadership will meet to discuss Pirinski's running mate in the presidential race and a proposal for a coalition agreement in the elections. Regional BSP activists will be briefed on the decisions of the top leadership at regional meetings to be held from July 20 through 25.
 OPPOSITION DEMANDS PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES ON BREAD CRISISSofia, July 16 (BTA) - The Union of Democratic Forces (UDF, this country's biggest opposition force) demands that Parliament open debates on the bread shortage.
At its meeting today the UDF National Coordinating Committee (NCC, UDF's senior leadership), decided to demand that Parliament hold debates on the grain crisis, the necessary grain supply to meet domestic demand in 1996 and 1997 and on the situation of the state grain reserves and wartime contingency grain reserves, UDF leader Ivan Kostov told journalists after the meeting. UDF insists that the parliamentary debates be opened on Friday. Today's meeting of the NCC discussed many proposals to resolve the issue. A special working group will consolidate them.
UDF has information according to which the Cabinet reportedly decided that the State Savings Bank extend credits totalling 12,000 million leva to mills and silos to purchase this year's grain produce. According to Kostov, this measure seeks to isolate private companies from the process. "We will try to find ways to ensure the supply of bread but we shall remember to hold to account the culprits for the current state of affairs," Kostov said.
"We have allocated credit resources for the purchase of grain by all mills which signed contracts with the Agriculture State Fund; we will not impose restrictions on all other companies willing to buy grain," Minister of Agriculture and Food Processing Krustyo Trendafilov told a briefing today.
According to Trendafilov, the wheat purchase price of 23 to 24 leva/kg fixed by the state is a good price which will bring producers a decent profit as well as funds for the autumn sowing. Trendafilov described as overstatements producers' claims that their costs topped 300 leva/ha and said that costs could have reached 200 leva/ha at the most.
Today's collegium of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Processing approved a programme for the organization and funding of the autumn sowing in 1996. A total of 50,600 million leva will be needed by farmers to sow the 1,150,000 ha of autumn crops, of which 37,355 million leva for wheat, Trendafilov told the press.
The projected yield of 2,200 kg/ha this summer is a record-low produce for the past 20 years. Compared to last year's figure of 4,500 kg/ha, the drop is twofold, Director of the Wheat and Sunflower Institute in General Toshevo (Northeastern Bulgaria) Professor Peter Ivanov said.
Mills in many cities across the country have recently experienced wheat shortages. According to publications in the press, 164 companies exported a total of 685,000 tonnes of wheat last year which is above the set quota of 540,000 tonnes. As a result, grain prices started to increase and flour disappeared from the retail market.
By all accounts Bulgaria will have to import 400,000 to 450,000 tonnes of bread wheat, Trendafilov said yesterday. Speaking to the press, he said that farmers harvested 300,000 tonnes of wheat and that the quantity should be distributed. This, however, is not a task of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Processing, Trendafilov said. The programme approved by the Ministry today envisages that grain growers be helped by soft credits for the purchase of fertilizers.
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