Press - Review

Sofia, September 9 (BTA) 

HIGHLIGHTS

"Sega": State Fund Agriculture (SFA) dooms to failure yet another measure under the Rural Development Programme. The SFA is delaying hundreds of projects by local steering groups for the development of the corresponding rural areas, sources told the daily. The delay is critical: not a single procedure was approved between May 2018, when the submission of approval procedures began, and May 2019; the approval began only in the last several months, and not a single project has been approved yet. The result might be a serious cut in the budget under this measure.

"24 Chassa": According to statistical data of the Bulgarian National Bank, Bulgarians saved 31 billion leva between end-December 2008 and July 2019; their savings grew by 3 billion leva a year on average. During the period in question, loans grew but more slowly, so the difference between savings and loans as at July 2019 was over 30 billion leva in favour of savings. The number of millionaires' accounts increased by nearly ten-fold: there were 98 Bulgarians with a bank deposit exceeding 1 million leva in 2008, compared to 916 Bulgarians in 2019.

"Douma": The National Revenue Agency (NRA) has problems with the collection of 29.8 billion leva, which is the total amount of overdue state public debts as at end-2016, it transpires from the audit of the Bulgarian National Audit Office on the collectability of taxes and insurances between 2013 and 2016. The sum of 26 billion leva is owed to the NRA and the remaining money, to nearly 100 institutions whose fines and debts are serviced by the NRA.  Eighty-five per cent of some 30 billion leva of overdue money are hard to collect. The new overdue debts as at end-2016 amounted to 2.1 billion leva, of which only 55 per cent are collectable. In 2016 alone, the NRA cancelled debts worth 10 billion leva due to these becoming void by prescription.

"Troud": Over 60 per cent of Bulgarian doctors are nearing their retirement age, and one-fourth have already reached it, show alarming data of the Bulgarian Medical Association. According to forecasts of the National Association of General Practitioners, 98 per cent of GPs will be aged over 50 in the next five years. In addition to the critical shortage of young doctors in Bulgaria, there is already a serious shortage in specific medical specialties - for example, Bulgaria needs over 400 pediatricians and some 450 GPs. These and other problems faced by the Bulgarian healthcare system were discussed at the 10th International Medical Congress of the South East European Medical Forum, held in Sofia on September 7 and 8.

"Monitor": The National Association for Adoptive Care (NAAC) reports a shortage of adoptive parents in big regions of Bulgaria, the biggest problem being in Sofia where the share of children in need of adoption is also the biggest. According to the association, the main reason for this is the lack of systematic support by the State, social services' excessive control, and the lack of social rights. There currently are 2,300 adoptive parents, and they are caring for some 2,000 children, which the NAAC considers highly insufficient. The adoptive parents get some 600 leva a months, and additional 190 to 300 leva for expenses depending on the child's age. "They do not have the right to fall ill, to register at the labour office, to apply for a mortgage, and yet the control [over adoptive parents] is very tight and the requirements are big, which is why there are not many candidates," commented Alexander Milanov. That is why the NAAC insists on the adoption of a special agreement under the Social Services Act to regulate adoptive parents' labour in a way that guarantees their social and labour rights.

"Telegraf": The western town of Pernik is stealing Sofia's cars. There currently are three groups that are most active in car theft in the capital. Plamen Maximov, head of the car theft sector in the Regional Directorate of the Interior in Sofia, told the daily their data show that one car is stolen per 24 hours on average, and four or five out of the seven cars stolen per week are taken to Pernik, where professionals take the vehicles apart for 500 leva a piece.

POLITICS

"24 Chassa" writes that Bulgaria's European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel will most probably be in charge of education and culture in the new European Commission. The official presentation of the new commissioners will be made on Tuesday, the daily specifies. Sources from the Bulgarian Government confirmed for "24 Chassa" that education was one of the possible fields discussed for Bulgaria's commissioner  during the talks between Prime Minister Borissov and Ursula von der Leyen, the head of the new European Commission, in Sofia in late August. The article continues with details of the advantages and disadvantages of Gabriel being in charge of the Commission's Directorate General for Education and Culture.

"Capital", too, writes that Gabriel will most probably become the new European commissioner for education and culture, citing preliminary information published by Nova TV.

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"Douma" reports that the Bulgarian Socialist Party has nominated as its mayoral candidate in Plovdiv Nikolay Radev, municipal councilor for many years and current principal of the Plovdiv Language High School. The article also lists the names of the Socialists' mayoral candidates in Vidin, Lovech, Veliko Turnovo, Gorna Oryahovitsa, and Razgrad.

"24 Chassa" has an interview with Zdravko Dimitrov, GERB's candidate for mayor of Plovdiv (South Central Bulgaria). He talks about his plans for Bulgaria's second biggest city should he win in the local elections on October 27, his team, the mistakes of Plovdiv's current mayor, Ivan Totev (GERB), and his relations with GERB leader Boyko Borissov and his party.

"Standard News" reports that on September 6, GERB and VMRO [part of the power-sharing United Patriots coalition]  sighed an agreement on joint work for winning the local elections in Bourgas (on the Black Sea). To this end, VMRO's local structure supports GERB's nomination of Dimiter Nikolov for mayor of Bourgas.

"Sega" reports that in view of the forthcoming local elections, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) is conducting a purge in some of its local structures: the party's municipal leadership in Dospat (Southern Bulgaria), headed by Atanas Purzhanov, has been removed and so has been MP Ahmed Bashev from the party's structure in Gurmen (Southern Bulgaria). Registering the MRF for the local elections during the weekend, leader Mustafa Karadayi said that the party aims to preserve its current positions and broaden its participation in local governments.

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"Troud" has an interview with Assoc. Prof. Georgi Chankov, lecturer in international relations at Sofia's University of National and World Economy. He talks about the new trends in the EU, Brexit, the political crisis in Italy, and the relations between European countries and Russia. Asked to comment on Prime Minister Boyko Borissov recent statement that entering the Schengen area is no longer Bulgaria's priority because it would fill the country with migrants, Assoc. Prof. Chankov says that it was high time to come to this realization. "With Schengen, the EU looks like a ship without watertight barriers. Wherever the hull is breached, the ship sinks solidarily. We are worthy of a rusty stain in the sheet metal," he argues.

ECONOMY

A story in "Capital" goes that Bulgarian Kristalina Georgieva will probably be the only candidate for International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, after Christine Lagarde stepped down in September to move to the European Central Bank.  This transpired on September 7, the deadline for announcing the candidates' names, when no new candidates were publicly announced. Such might become clear once the IMF Executive Board announces its shortlist, but international publications quote sources as saying that Georgieva has no competition. A day earlier, the IMF lifted the age limitations for the post, which were the last obstacle to Georgieva's nomination, "Capital" specifies.

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"24 Chassa" has a 32-page booklet about the Kozloduy nuclear power plant (NPP) on the occasion of its 45th anniversary. The booklet, entitled "Kozloduy NPP: Safe, Clean and Cheap Electricity", features articles, interviews, photos, and infographics about Bulgaria's only NPP.

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