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News from Bulgaria, 96-09-05
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From: Embassy of Bulgaria <email@example.com>
EMBASSY OF BULGARIA - WASHINGTON D.C.
BTA - BULGARIAN TELEGRAPH AGENCYSeptember 5, 1996
 IMF TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE MISSION ARRIVES IN SOFIASofia, September 4 (BTA) - A group of experts of the IMF's Technical Assistance Mission, headed by Charles Innock, arrived this evening in Sofia, the National Radio said.
During the next few days the group will have meetings with Bulgarian experts and bankers to specify in details the guidelines for the operation of the National Bank of Bulgaria (BNB, the central bank).
The technical assistance mission has been visiting Bulgaria on a regular basis and now as usual it will pay attention to various aspects of the country's monetary and fiscal policy, which in fact is a continuation of our regular dialogue with the central bank, Mr Innock said upon his arrival. He said the Mission will focus its attention on the BNB's internal control, on the monetary and lending policies as well as on bank supervision.
The IMF cannot make recommendations about the number of the Bulgarian banks, the head of IMF's technical support mission said.
At the same time a mission of the IMF, reviewing the implementation of the Government's programme for economic reforms for which the Fund provided a stabilization loan in July, is completing its work in Sofia.
 WORLD BANK TO SUPPORT BULGARIAN SOCIAL INSURANCE REFORMSofia, September 4 (BTA) - The World Bank yesterday approved a US$ 24.3 million loan to Bulgaria to help finance a Social Insurance Administration Project, the Bank's Resident Mission to Sofia said. The project will support administrative reforms within the Government's current social insurance programme by helping to restore the financial strength of its Social Security Fund (SSF) and to establish the groundwork for future improvements in Bulgaria's pension system.
Since the start of transition to a market economy in 1991 after the fall of totalitarianism in 1989, the Government has initiated several reforms. Recently, efforts have been made to modernize the administrative procedures of the country's 45-year-old pay-as-you-go (PAYG) social insurance programme, the Bank's Sofia Mission said in a press release. Since the start of transition, the number of social protection programmes and the number of people receiving income support from these programmes have increased dramatically, straining the resources of the SSF which, along with the PAYG programme, provided pension payments for the elderly and disabled, short-term benefits for sick leave and maternity leave, and cash transfers for children, the Bank said.
The Bank-assisted Social Insurance Administration Project will further the achievement of the Government's reform goals by increasing the operational efficiency of the National Social Security Institute (NSSI) set up in October 1995 and improving the Institute's ability to better manage available resources, the World Bank Resident Mission said. The Cabinet has authorized the NSSI to manage the Social Security Fund.
The project has two components. First, tax compliance and operational efficiency are to be increased at a base cost of US$ 25.8 million, the Sofia Mission said. This will substantially reorganize NSSI operations and improve SSF monitoring by developing and implementing modern payroll tax collection and audit strategies; improving services to both contributors and beneficiaries as well as revenue and expenditure monitoring and forecasting capabilities; establishing and maintaining a centralized database; providing computer hardware and specialized software applications to support operational improvements; using foreign and local consultant services for the training and retraining of about two-thirds of NSSI's 2,500 personnel, etc.
The second component - strengthening the institutional capacity of the NSSI at a base cost of US$ 2.8 million - will improve the NSSI's ability to conduct policy analysis, actuarial forecasting, public information and education concerning the social insurance system, and expand and modernize its capabilities to analyse programme performance.
The project will be implemented over a four-year period by the NSSI. The total project costs are US$ 32.3 million, including physical and price contingencies. The Bank's loan will finance 75 per cent of total project costs with co-financing on grant terms being sought from EU PHARE, USAID and the UK Know-How Fund to cover technical assistance and training costs under the second component. The NSSI will finance the balance of project costs amounting to US$ 8.0 million, which will cover incremental operating costs, duties and taxes.
The loan will be repayable over a period of 20 years including a five-year grace period at the Bank's standard variable interest rate. Since joining the World Bank in 1990, Bank commitments to Bulgaria total US$ 893.3 million for twelve projects, the Bank said.
 BULGARIA-JAPAN: COOPERATION IN AGRICULTURESofia, September 4 (BTA) - The Ministry of Agriculture and Food Processing today signed a cooperation protocol with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the Ministry said.
The protocol envisages cooperation on a project aimed to improve the quality control of raw milk and to develop dairy products. A joint project coordinating committee is being formed, including representatives of the National Veterinary Medical Service. Japan's government will provide the necessary equipment, experts and training for Bulgarian experts.
 CHAIRMAN OF ISRAELI KNESSET ARRIVES ON AN INFORMAL VISITSofia, September 4 (BTA) - Chairman of the Israeli Knesset Dan Tichon arrived today on an informal five-day visit.
This is our third visit to Bulgaria in a year and it is connected with the ceremony of reconsecration of the Synagogue in Sofia, Mr Tichon said at the Sofia airport. The guest also said that this visit is intended to strengthen the friendly relations between the two states.
During his visit Mr Tichon is scheduled to have meetings with Chairman of the Bulgarian National Assembly Blagovest Sendov, President Zhelyu Zhelev, Prime Minister Zhan Videnov and the Bulgaria-Israeli friendship group in the National Assembly.
The Chairman of the Israeli Knesset is accompanied by 164 Bulgarian Jews, most of them businessmen. Their visit here is due to the interest which Israel shows in the development of tourist, trade and culture relations between the two states, Mr Tichon said.
 CULTURE MINISTER MARAZOV NAMED NEW SOCIALIST PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATESofia, September 4 (BTA) - Culture Minister Ivan Marazov was named as the new candidate of the ruling Socialists for the October 27 presidential elections. A decision to that effect was taken late last night at a plenum of the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) called after the Supreme Court confirmed a refusal of the election authorities to register BSP presidential candidate Georgi Pirinski. Running for the vice president's office will be incumbent Deputy Foreign Minister Irina Bokova (44). The BSP today will meet its coalition partners to discuss the new presidential tandem.
A 54-year-old professor of history of arts, Marazov was initially nominated as Pirinski's running mate. Pirinski was considered as the most likely winner in the October 27 vote together with opposition candidate Peter Stoyanov, but dropped from the race over doubts on whether he meets the constitutional requirement for presidential candidates to be Bulgarians by birth. Pirinski was born in the United States to an American mother and a Bulgarian emigre father.
The newly nominated candidate took office as Minister of Culture in May 1996 as part of a reshuffle in the cabinet of Prime Minister Zhan Videnov. Marazov is graduate of the Repin Institute of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg in Russia. He holds a PhD in art history, headed of the Institute of Art History with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, served as deputy culture minister in the 1991 coalition government of Dimiter Popov and was admitted as member of the Medici Academy of Florence in 1988. He is married and has one child.
Socialists believe that Marazov is the best person to continue the presidential campaign the previous candidate started with the motto "Together for Bulgaria".
The most important role of the president is mediator in the public dialogue, Marazov told journalists last night after the decision on his candidacy was announced. He believes that while the president's powers and responsibility are a far cry from those of the executive, he has greater chances to understand the public attitudes in a civil society. The presidential institution has a balancing role for the executive and all other powers, according to Marazov. Georgi Pirinski is a major political figure and a strong unifying factor, said also Marazov. "Pirinski enjoyed the highest approval rating while I start with a much lower one because I have actually been in the presidential race for only a month," said he.
Irina Bokova said she accepted Ivan Marazov's offer to be his running mate, being well aware of the importance of the presidential election campaign. "We should leave behind petty internal political battles and internal party bickerings in the name of national accord and the overcoming of the present crisis," Irina Bokova said.
Sixty-six of the 74 BSP Supreme Council members present at the session voted in support of the nomination of Prof. Ivan Marazov Only four supported the nomination of jurist Yordan Shkolagerski MP. Proposals were also made to nominate National Assembly Chairman Blagovest Sendov, Nikola Koichev, leader of the Sofia organization of the BSP, former BSP leader Alexander Lilov and Socialist MP Ivan Gaitandjiev but they all asked to be struck off the list, it transpired after the session.
The plenum also relieved Filip Bokov as head of the press office of the left-wing's campaign headquarters at his request.
The Supreme Council of the BSP adopted a resolution stating that "despite the gross political nature of the decision of the Supreme Court, the Socialists will comply with it because they respect the democratic institutions." The BSP declared once again that it will do everything possible for holding the presidential elections as scheduled and for guaranteeing their fair and democratic nature.
Last night President Zhelev too, took a stand on the presidential campaign. In an interview for National Television he described as speculative press allegations that he was seeking a way to run for president once again. This June President Zhelev lost the intra- opposition presidential primaries, intended to render up a single presidential candidate of the opposition, to Union of Democratic Forces (UDF) candidate Peter Stoyanov. Zhelev said that he will honour the agreement of the united opposition and would not run for another term. Last night Zhelev declined to make projections on the outcome of the presidential elections and said that it was not the elections but the present disastrous situation in this country, which may spring all kinds of surprises on us, that was his prime concern. President Zhelev said that events around the presidential election were obscuring the real problems facing this country. "What I am interested in is how to make Bulgaria a republic with a presidential government or a presidential republic. For me there is no other solution to the problems. Even Jesus Christ will be unable to make things better in Bulgaria if he were president under the present Bulgarian Constitution," Zhelev said.
The Supreme Court is expected to announce its decision on the opposition's appeal of the refusal of the Central Electoral Commission to register its presidential and vice presidential candidate - Peter Stoyanov and Todor Kavaldjiev. The CEC refused to register the opposition's tandem claiming the documents of the coalition, supporting Stoyanov-Kavaldjiev were not in order. Yesterday UDF leader Ivan Kostov told journalists all legal omissions in the documents had been removed and expressed his conviction that the decision of the Supreme Court will be in favour of the candidates of the opposition.
 OPPOSITION'S PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE WILL BE REGISTERED, RULING LEFT'S NEW PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE GIVES FIRST NEWS CONFERENCESofia, September 4 (BTA) - The Supreme Court granted today the appeal of the united opposition against the refusal of the Central Electoral Commission (CEC) to register its candidate Peter Stoyanov to take part in the October 27 presidential elections.
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