Press Review

Sofia, January 12 (BTA) 


Quoting National Statistical Institute figures, "Troud" frontpages that as little as 11.3 per cent of Bulgarians have a monthly income of over 740 leva. Little less than 800,000 people have incomes that are enough to buy a nice fridge. The average wage in the country is 1,100 leva but household income is divided between all family members. The average annual per capita income is 5,586 leva, or 465 leva per month. The National Statistical Institute has divided households into ten groups. The first group includes people with annual incomes of up to 2,160 leva and the tenth group includes people with incomes of over 740 leva. Some 7.7 per cent of Bulgarians live on less than 180 leva per month, or 542,000 people of the country' population of 7 million. The largest share of Bulgarians, 30 per cent, have incomes of between 250 and 390 leva. The annual income of the members of the tenth group is 13,172 leva, or nearly 1,100 leva per month. The poorest and the wealthiest households have almost the same amount of loans.  Households with monthly incomes of around 1,400 leva are the heaviest borrowers. The wealthiest 11 per cent of Bulgarians spend 24.2 of their income on food, while the poorest 7.7 per cent spend 44 per cent of their incomes on food.

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A poll by "24 Chassa" shows that 150 senior public servants draw higher salaries than Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, who receives around 8,000 leva per month. These include the members of many regulatory bodies and constitutional judges. For instance, the central bank governor receives 16, 849 leva, the Financial Supervision Commission chair, 13,146 leva, the chief of the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission, 4,977 leva, and members of the Commission for Protection of Competition, 4,628 leva.

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"24 Chassa" reports that the parliamentary defence committee will consider on Tuesday the government's request for authorization of negotiations with the US for the acquisition of F-16 fighter jest for the Bulgarian Air Force. The item is expected to be included on Parliament's agenda on Wednesday. The paper quotes Deputy Prime Minister Krassimir Karakachanov as saying that a new competition is no solution as it will mean a delay of another two years in the wake of a request by his coalition partner Valeri Simeonov to postpone the deal. The publication also carries an interview with Karakachanov, headlined "We Don't Need Toy Plane But Combat Aircraft".

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"24 Chassa" has learnt from Interior Ministry sources that private enforcement agent Totko Kolev fled the country on December 20, a day before the takeover of the Libyan vessel Badr by its new owner Bulgargeomin. The tanker was arrested at the port of Bourgas in November 2017. Bulgargeomin claimed that Libya owed it 9,250,000 US dollars secured by a maritime mortgage, and demanded foreclosure. Although the court closed the case and ordered the tanker released, the private enforcement agent announced a public auction at which Bulgargeomin was the only bidder.  As a result Libya threatened to detain all Bulgarian vessels in its waters. The prosecution is investigating whether Kolev exceeded his powers.

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"Troud" runs an interview with Arab expert Boyan Choukov in which he comments on developments in the Middle East.

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"Sega" (online) reports that President Rumen Radev cancelled 55,000 leva in uncollectible debt to the state and refused to cancel another 7,525,997 leva in the first seven months of the year. This transpires from a report by a special commission working under the President. The cancelled debt is less than 1 per cent of all receivables for which cancellation had been requested. These include unlawfully received survivor benefits, money for assistive devices and medical supplies, unpaid medical insurance contributions, property and vehicle taxes. The largest number of cases involve unlawfully received child benefits, heating allowances and social benefits. The right to cancel uncollectible receivables is entirely within the powers of the president. When a petition is filed, the commission checks the debt origin, the family, financial and property and health status of the debtor and the members of the family to determine whether the debt can be repaid.


"Standart News" (online) quotes KRIB chairman Kiril Domouschiev as saying on bTV that the Fuels Act serves private interests and its goal is to leave only the large filling stations operating on the market. He described the withdrawal of the Bulgarian Petroleum and Gas Association from the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria (KRIB) as  manipulation because the business organization did not support the act and backed its postponement. "In the summer the executive took steps to endorse the bill with the active lobbying of Valentin Zlatev (LukOil director). At the time KRIB took a strong stance to certain provisions which will affect the confederation's members. We held a series of meetings which were attended by Valentin Zlatev, the chairman of the Petroleum and Gas Association and all interested parties. Following long debates we managed to exclude farmers from the scope of this law. For the others there was the promise that they will be excluded at a later stage," said the KRIB Chairman. Domouschiev said that there was no dialogue about issues arising from the law. "This law was pushed through by one man and KRIB kept silent out of tact. The Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association urged President Radev to veto the act and we were hoping that revisions would be made. As this did not happen, the KRIB management and the heads of the branch associations took steps to postpone the law until the issues are addressed." "24 Chassa" writes that the Fuels Act will come into force on July 1. The act was postponed on a proposal by Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov after the reactions of the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria and other branch associations. On Friday a working group was set up at the Economy Ministry on Friday to draft the revisions to the Fuels Act. All stakeholders were able to express their opinion during the meeting.

* * * reports that  Spas Roussev and Kiril Domouschiev are negotiating with the Swedish Modern Times Group (MTG) to acquire Nova Broadcasting Group. The news follows the suspension of the deal with the PPF Group of Czech billionaire Petr Kellner after the anti-trust commission failed to authorize it. Spas Roussev, who owns Vivacom, confirmed that he had expressed interest in the deal in a consortium with a large international company. Kiril Domouschiev was unavailable for comment.


Media outlets highlight the news that the Macedonian Parliament voted to change Macedonia's name to the Republic of North Macedonia as a result  of the Prespa Agreement with Greece. Eighty one MPs backed the constitutional changes, one more that the required two-thirds majority.  The Prespa agreement has to be ratified by the Greek Parliament too. Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev voiced expectation that an agreement for the country's accession to NATO will be signed soon.