site.btaMedia Review: November 28
AFTER THE SNOW
Many places in the country are still in state of emergency following the heavy snowfall during the weekend. The situation is the worst in Razgrad district, Krushari municipality, Dobrich district, Krivodol and partly in Vratsa municipality. Thousands of people are still without electricity, 24 Chasa reports.
In Sofia, according to the electricity company, the breakdowns will be removed by 10:30 Tuesday, and in the district, where many small settlements have no electricity - emergency teams are expected to deal with them by noon. The power supply situation is also particularly severe in Lovech, Pleven, Montana, and Vratsa. Many villages in northeastern Bulgaria are also without electricity. Fifty-five schools are taking the day off, while seventeen will carry out online lessons.
More than 90% of the damage on the electricity distribution network has been repaired. Of the 12,185 affected transformer substations, 90% have been repaired, and power supply is back on, Energy Minister Rumen Radev told Nova TV. He specified that there are still small settlements without electricity, and 684 teams are working on the problems.
According to Minister Radev, one of the ways to prevent major accidents, which leave thousands of people without electricity, is to give power to the teams of electricity distribution companies to cut branches or remove trees completely. He said the wet and heavy snowfall that had fallen, accompanied by wind, had resulted in many branches breaking and falling on the power grid. "There was no frost, and the leaves did not fall, forming a large mass on the tree crown. So at the first heavy snowfall the branches started snapping. The maintenance teams are not even allowed to cut branches. We need bigger investments, such as switching to underground routes. But this immediately brings up the issue of electricity bills as it will most likely affect them," the minister added.
The Mountain Rescue Service warned on its Facebook page that the negative landforms on the face of Mount Vitosha have filled with snow, and that there may be avalanche danger in these places.
The ceiling of the pedestrian underpass at the intersection of Bulgaria Blvd. and Todor Kableshkov Blvd. in Sofia is about to collapse. The reinforcement of the load-bearing elements is visible, showed a report of bTV.
The cause is a leak that came from the street or from the lawns after the heavy snowfall. This problem is known to the district administration.
Dnevnik asked the municipality when the repairs could begin. The underpass was repaired eight years ago, but only from the inside, the municipality said. "In order to stop the leak, a new waterproofing has to be put in, and this requires the whole underpass to be 'opened' from above. Such repairs should be included in next year's budget. The problem is when it would be appropriate to close this key intersection to traffic," the municipality said.
The Budget and Finance committee in Parliament is starting discussions on the state budget and the budgets of the health insurance fund and the state social insurance. Almost 40% of the country's gross domestic product is distributed through the national budget, 24 Chasa reminds. The costs set in the draft law for 2024 are BGN 6.2 billion more than the revenues. The shortfall will be financed by borrowing, with the maximum amount of debt the country can take on being up to BGN 10 billion. The budget was prepared with a forecast of 4.8% average annual inflation and 3.2% economic growth. After the relevant committee votes on it, the budget is expected to enter the plenary for a first reading on Thursday.
The war in Ukraine and the situation in the Middle East will be the main topics NATO foreign ministers will discuss on Tuesday and Wednesday, BNR reports. The ministers will also look at the situation in the Western Balkans. In this regard, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO is considering a permanent increase of its forces in the region in order to preserve peace. The ministers will also discuss the challenges coming from China. Bulgaria will be represented by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Mariya Gabriel.
Trud and other news outlets reports that the Bulgarian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that following a request received from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of North Macedonia as OSCE rotating Chair for 2023 and organiser of the 30th OSCE Council of Ministers meeting in Skopje on November 29 - December 1 to provide permission for the delegations to fly over to participate in the forthcoming OSCE Council of Ministers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria has granted permission for the Special Flying Squadron "Rossiya" to fly over the airspace of the Republic of Bulgaria to carry out a flight to transport a delegation to participate in the international forum. The permission is granted for the participation in the OSCE Ministerial Council meeting in Skopje of the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and falls under the exceptions to the application of the EU sanctions regime against him. The permission granted does not apply to members of his delegation who are also sanctioned persons under the current EU law, which is explicitly mentioned in the Bulgarian side's reply note, the Foreign Ministry statement stressed.
Since the beginning of the year, more than 6100 cyber incidents have been registered in the public sphere, said Electronic Governance Minister Alexander Yolovski, who participated in the presentation of the results of a project related to the development of the National Coordination Centre and a Bulgarian ecosystem for cyber security, 24 Chasa reports.
Minister Yolovski clarified that these are incidents related only to the public sector and do not affect critical infrastructure. As an example of increasing cyber threats, he pointed to data from 2022, when 4,100 incidents were recorded. "These are not small numbers at all," he pointed out.
"Digitalisation and cyber security are two sides of the same coin. Digitalisation is impossible without the flip side, namely cyber security," Minister Yolovski said. According to him, in Bulgaria and all over Europe the topic of information sharing and cybersecurity is becoming more and more relevant because of the continuous development of technologies, including artificial intelligence.
The warnings of economists and financiers about a slowdown in the economy and an expected rise in interest rates apparently do not scare Bulgarians when taking out loans, 24 Chasa writes. In 10 months, new mortgage and consumer loans totalled just over BGN 4 billion. In fact, this year the amount saved by Bulgarians in banks is only 700 million more than the new loans taken. For example, those for property alone are BGN 2.4 billion, and by the end of the year they are expected to reach the unprecedented BGN 3 billion. The reason for the credit boom is low interest rates. On Monday, the BNB reported that consumer loans in BGN were unchanged in October and remain at an average of 8.59%.
Banks continue to lend up to 85% of the value of homes in big cities and up to 75-80% in smaller towns. However, the number of new home loans granted has dropped by 2%. This is happening against the backdrop of a continuing decline in the number of property transactions. In the third quarter, for example, the annual decline recorded by the Registry Agency reached 13% and the number almost matched that in the same period of 2011.
Due to the shortage of places, families who had to send their children to private nurseries were promised financial compensation. Thousands of parents are in this situation. They are now complaining that they have not received the money promised for half a year.
"Before that, for half a year I received BGN 430 a month," one of the affected mothers told Nova TV. "The last payment was in June, it was for April and May. Since then we have been asking the institutions, but they say nothing," another affected mother explained.
The responsible institutions are the municipality and the Ministry of Health. NOVA contacted the municipality, where they said they were only passing on the information. The Health Ministry admitted that there was a delay in payments, but it was not their fault. The reason was that the municipalities did not hand over the documents to them on time. The promise was that from December parents would receive the accumulated amounts.