Press Review

Sofia, December 8 (BTA)

HIGHLIGHTS

"Troud": The price of water in Sofia will rise by nearly 0.2 per cent, from 2.354 leva/cu m now to 2.585 leva/cu m after VAT as from January 1, 2019. In Bourgas, the price will be nearly 3 leva/cu m, up from 2.729 leva now. For Varna, the level is expected to reach 3.097 leva. In Plovdiv, the hike will be smaller, from 2.20 leva now to 2.216 next year. The Energy and Water Regulatory Commission report on the new water prices will be submitted to public consultation.

"24 Chassa": Food expert Grozdan Karadjov is baffled why bread and gluten are so commonly demonized. He specified that producers which have adopted the State standard for bread observe it because control is very strict. Under that standard, there are only three types of bread: Sofia (made only of Type 1150 flour), Stara Zagora (white, made of Type 500 flour), and Dobroudja (made of Type 700 flour). Producers, though, facilitate production by adding humidifiers and softeners, taste-, flavour- and crust colour-enhancing enzymes, which are safe for health. Very long shelf-life breads should be avoided because of the preservatives used. The normal shelf-life is 36 hours. Wholemeal bread is bad for people with stomach problems. The nearest approximation to wholemeal bread which is sold in Bulgaria is made of Type 1850 flour. Fakes are made by mixing Type 700 and 1150 flour with edible bran. Bread consumption at home in Bulgaria has been declining steadily, from 270.6 kg per capita annually in 1965 to 252.2 kg in 1970, 232.2 kg in 1975, 160.4 kg in 1992, and 87.1 kg in 2017. The consumption of the far less healthy flour confections shows a reverse trend: from 3 kg per capita annually in 1992 to 6.1 kg in 2018. In 2017, Bulgaria exported 6 million euro's worth of bread, mainly to Romania, Greece, Slovakia and Slovenia, and imported bread worth 3 million leva, mainly from Germany, Romania, France and the Czech Republic.

POLITICS

In an analysis headlined "Dire Poverty Stabilized", Petyo Tsekov points out in "Sega" that the 50 million leva that Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has boasted as a budget allocation for a 5.7 per cent pension increase in 2019 translate as an actual rise of 11.40 leva (the minimum monthly pension will grow from 207.60 leva to 219 leva or 112 euro, which is far below the poverty threshold, set at 348 leva or 178 euro. Even though pensions are shamefully small, the deficit of the Pensions Fund already stands at 3,700 million leva (revenues: 5,100 million leva, planned expenditures: 8,800 million leva), which means that poverty will be worsening by all means in the coming years because working people are too few and too badly paid to fill the gap. "Over the last 25 years, Bulgaria has achieved a lot. Quite a few monetary restrictions contain inflation. The tax system has been relieved and clarified, and compliance is growing despite the Socialist Party. At the same time, however, the socialist State survives: the Exchequer reallocates ever more money, a whole lot of price controls remained in effect, along with a whole lot of authorization schemes. What is lacking is policies."

* * *

"24 Chassa" quotes Party of European Socialists (PES) President Sergei Stanishev as saying at the PES Congress in Lisbon: "It's a pity that [Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) Chair] Kornelia [Ninova] is not here, because leaders should talk to each other." The Congress elected Stanishev for a third term as PES President. All ten members of the BSP delegation to the Congress, led by the party's deputy chairs Deniza Slateva and Kiril Dobrev, voted for Stanishev. Ninova boycotted the forum because of the PES insistence on ratification of the Istanbul Convention. Stanishev warned that adopting the tone of populism does not work: when a Left-wing party tries to compete with extreme nationalists, first, this is not the real thing and, secondly, the original is always better.

* * *

"24 Chassa" runs a page-long profile of Fiona Hill, Senior Director for Europe and Russia at the US National Security Council, with whom Bulgarian National Assembly Internal Security and Public Order Committee Chairman Tsvetan Tsvetanov conferred during a visit to Washington, D.C.

LOCAL GOVERNMENT

On two full inside pages, "Troud" covers the 2019 budget that the Sofia Municipal Council adopted for the capital city on Friday. The budget stands at 1,587 million leva, 30 million leva more than in 2018. Of these, 51.3 million leva are to be spent on 15 major street repair projects. One-third of the budget is set aside for capital expenditures (over 551 million leva, of which 58 per cent under EU-financed programmes). The tax on some two-thirds of the cars registered in Sofia will be increased, while the owners of the other one-third, which meet the highest environmental standards (Euro 5 and 6), will pay a lower tax. The immovable property tax and the household waste fee will remain unchanged. "24 Chassa" also covers the story.

HOME AFFAIRS

The Civil College of the Supreme Court of Cassation determined in an interpretative judgment that the termination of criminal proceedings is an absolute bar to the institution of a case for forfeiture of unlawfully acquired property. The interpretative case was instituted in 2016 and applies only to cases handled under the 2012 Act on Forfeiture to the Exchequer of Unlawfully Acquired Assets, which was superseded in early 2018. The judgment was signed with a dissenting opinion by 11 judges, who believe that civil confiscation is not bound to criminal procedure. The story is also covered in "24 Chassa".

ETHNOPSYCHOLOGY

Ivan Stambolov notes in a page-long article in "Sega" that to as many as 34 generations of Bulgarians, the State which they inhabited, to which they paid taxes and for which they probably fought in wars, was an enemy: it oppressed them, harassed them and exploited them without giving them almost anything. "You can't possibly love such a State, you can't perceive its institutions as established for your service and convenience. This is a State to be hated and cheated. Positive characters in Bulgarian literature persistently and purposefully try to prevent the State from fulfilling its functions because they are convinced that it works against their interests. With time, the millionaires on credit and the VAT fraudsters, too, will probably become positive folk heroes. People go so far in their hate for the State that they deny its very existence. The State does exist, but you simply refuse to acknowledge it as your own because you hate it. You hate it because you consider it an enemy, and it has indeed been an enemy for half of your historical memory," the author reasons.

HEALTH

National Centre for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases Centre Director Todor Kantardjiev says in a two-page interview in "Troud" that the first cases of H1N1 and H3N2 flu infections were proved by the National Reference Laboratory last week, first in Sofia and then in Silistra and Stara Zagora. The interviewee expects the flu epidemic to peak after the New Year. Untypically, all cases of flu proved in Bulgaria so far are Type A.

EDUCATION

On its centre-fold, "24 Chassa" marks the 130th birthday of the St Kliment Ohridski University of Sofia, Bulgaria's oldest higher educational establishment.

CULTURE

"24 Chassa" tells about prominent Bulgarian sculptor Georgi Chapkanov and carries a two-page interview with popular stage and film actress Teodora Douhovnikova.

 

BTA