Press Review

Sofia, November 7 (BTA) -

THE HOME SCENE

Parliament on Tuesday adopted on first reading the National Health Insurance Budget Bill and the Public Social Insurance Budget Bill for 2019.

"Douma" reports that the incumbents have admitted that unclear reforms are being implemented through the budget of the National Health Insurance Fund and have promised to address the contentious points. The budget was adopted on the votes of GERB and the United Patriots, the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms were against, while Volya abstained. The opposition criticized the establishment of a new mega-agency for medical audit and an idea for Parliament to authorize the opening of new hospitals. Daniela Daritkova, chair of the parliamentary healthcare committee, said that it will be a heavy administrative burden if the new medical audit agency required that all health establishments get relicenced. The majority will likely backtrack on plans for the centralization of blood transfusion centres.

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"Monitor"reports that negotiations are underway to arrange a meeting between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Boyko Borissov in the beginning of 2019. This has emerged after the meeting between Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington on Monday. If the meeting takes places this is will be Borissov's second visit to the White House after his meeting with former president Barack Obama in December 2012.

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"Troud" frontpages that National Ombudsman Maya Manolova travelled by train from Sofia to Varna after she was left without a National Bodyguard Service car and driver by the government. Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov explained that the Ombudsman 'doesnТt need protection from the citizens'. During the journey Manolova met with people and received complaints. Upon arriving in Varna, Manolova said that carshare should be regulated by law. In Varna she met with Air Via employees who haven't received their wages for several months.  

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Under the headline "New Road Safety Agency Will Be Useless": Sega" looks at the agency whose establishment was launched after a deadly bus crash claimed 20 lives in the summer. From the draft rules of organization it transpires that the new agency will be structured as a ministry with administration and a political cabinet but very few responsibilities.  The state road safety agency will have a chairman with a political cabinet comprising a deputy and a PR chief. It will be under the Council of Ministers. Later a special law will regulate its activities once it is clear what powers it will need in order to implement its objective goals. The agency will have a legal department and analytical department and a total of 39 staff which will be recruited from other administrative units. It will employ external experts too/ According to the article the new agency emulates the former BORKOR anti corruption unit which wasted millions in taxpayers's money.


ECONOMY

"Capital" (online): Road traffic offenders will pay premiums of up to 400 per cent more on motor third party liability insurance, while compliant drivers will pay by up to 25 per cent less under a draft ordinance which introduces the so-called bonus-malus system. It has been adopted on first reading by the Financial Supervisions Commission (FSC). It aims to promote responsible driving and reduce road accidents through economic incentives. The draft has been published at FSC's website for public discussion.

In 2018 premiums on the compulsory motor third party liability insurance continued to rise and compliant drivers pay as much as offenders. The increase is due to Bulgaria's increased bank guarantee of the Bulgaria in the European Green Card System as well as tighter requirements for insurers' liquidity. The bonus-malus system has been delayed by more than a year as it supposed to be introduced in 2017. "Sega" exposes the failings of the new system and in addition to excluding from its scope state and municipal vehicles, in effect it penalizes safe drivers. In the first year drivers with no offences will pay as much as drivers who have violated the rules for years. According to the draft ordinance, compliant drivers will pay by 25 per cent less but after another eight years with no offences. The paper recalls that on Monday insurers warned that the third party liability insurance may soar to 1,000 leva after the court extended the number of people who can claim compensation in cases of road death.

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"Capital"and "Standart News" (online) report that 2017 was the one of the strongest years for Bulgaria's metallurgical industry. With an output worth 9.6 billion leva and a positive trade balance of 3.8 per cent the industry remains among the key to Bulgaria's economy. This transpired during the national observances of the Metallurgist Day at the Aurubis plant in Pirdop. 2017 was a record year for several companies such as Aurubis Bulgaria and Sofia Med which recorded their highest output. To a large extent the results are due to investments in the sector which have totaled 4.2 billion leva in the past 20 years.

The industry directly employs 13,400 people indirectly 60,000. In 2017 the added value was 1.1 billion leva and exports reached 8 billion leva. 

According to Anton Petrov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Association of the Metallurgical Industry, Bulgaria accounts for 16 per cent of anode copper, 8 per cent of refined copper, 6 per cent of lead and 6 per cent of zinc of the total EU output.

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"24 Chassa" reports that the Kozloduy N-plant posted a 69 per cent increase of profits between January and September compared with the like period of 2017. By the end of September, the profit totalled 169.6 million leva compared with 101 million leva a year earlier. The facility holds in accounts 417 million leva, an increase by 227.5 million leva from a year earlier. The Bulgarian Energy Holding, Kozloduy's parent company, has posted a profit of 134.3 million leva up from 116.2 million leva a year earlier. Bulgartransgaz' profit increased by 20 million leva to 68.8 million leva. However, the state-owned Maritza East 2 thermal power plant posted a loss of 260.4 million leva due to carbon allowances expenses of 259.1 million leva which is nearly three times more from 89.1 million leva in 2017.

CULTURE

"Telegraf"reports that over 300 artefacts rescued from smugglers will be featured in an exhibition at the National Archaeological Museum. The exhibition is titled 'Rescued Treasures of Bulgaria" and is part of events marking the European Year of Cultural Heritage. The museum's director, Lyudmil Vagalinski, says that the exhibition highlights one of the most painful issues related to cultural heritage: its persistent destruction by treasure hunters and smugglers. In Bulgaria there are between 25,000 and 30,000 people who make a living out of treasure hunting. The displays include copper axes from the 5th millennium BC; terra-cotta female figures from the 3rd-2nd century BC; a  Corinthian helmet from the 6th century BC; gold jewellery; coins and chariot ornaments from the 2nd century AD. Citing Interior Ministry figures,  "Troud" reports that every year there are some 120-140 pretrial proceedings for illicit excavations, trade and possession of artefacts, with about 40 convictions.

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