site.btaMedia Review: February 7
EARTHQUAKE - TURKIYE - SYRIA
The Monday earthquakes in the region around the border of Turkiye and Syria, which killed and injured thousands, are covered by all Bulgarian media.
Nova TV: The death toll following the devastating earthquake in Turkiye has reached 3,381 people, while another 1,400 have lost their lives in neighbouring Syria. This is the toll of the tragedy a day after the series of tremors. Local media report over 20,400 injured. More than 11,000 buildings have been destroyed.
24 Chassa: The deadly 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Turkiye and Syria occurred in a region of seismic instability known as the East Anatolian Fault.
Seismologists have long warned that the fault, which runs from southwest to northwest along Turkiye's southeastern border, poses huge risks. That is why scientists say this is the worst earthquake in 100 years in the region and predict more strong tremors in the next three days. After the first devastating quake in the early hours of Monday, a new powerful aftershock of magnitude 7.7 was felt in the afternoon.
The newspaper quotes Turkish Ambassador Aylin Sekizkok as telling Bulgarian National TV that her country is experiencing an unprecedented disaster on its territory. Ten regions are affected. So far, some 3,500 people have been found dead in Gaziantep, she said, adding that over 15,000 are injured. "I thank Bulgaria for its sincere support. The President called me at 6:00 a.m. to tell me that teams were being assembled. Bulgaria was one of the first countries to come to the rescue. I am proud to be an Ambassador in such a country that loves Turkiye so much," the Turkish diplomat told national TV.
"We need search and rescue teams. Such have started arriving from other countries. We need institutional support right now. The fault line extends some 350 km, while the affected area spans over some 30,000 sq km. There were two strong tremors, first 7.4 (magnitude) and then 7.6. We have mobilised across the board. Turkiye is a big and strong country, we have a large capacity, but the weather is extremely unfavourable [with] extremely severe winter conditions," she said.
"Debris clearance is ongoing. It was a difficult night. We think we may find more survivors. There are citizens of other countries injured. [Bulgarian Ambassador in Turkiye] Angel Cholakov is currently in the disaster-struck area. So far we have had over 200 aftershocks with magnitudes of up to 6. We as Balkan countries have to live with the reality of earthquakes," she added.
bTV runs an interview with civil engineer Dimitar Kumanov, who warns about the Bulgarian State’s total lack of preparedness to respond to earthquakes, with the only exception being the search and rescue teams. He also warned that many existing buildings have been renovated by their residents in ways that might have compromised their integrity and ability to withstand earthquakes. He gave as an example the panel block of flats in which he lives and where he could hear his neighbours drilling and grinding throughout most of the year, while renovating. He said that not just bearing walls, but every wall is important for a building’s ability to withstand an earthquake.
Duma: Annual real estate price growth accelerated to 15.6% in the third quarter of 2022, with the main contributor being appreciation in existing residential properties, the Ministry of Finance said in its monthly review of the Bulgarian economy. The growth rate of construction spending on new residential buildings continued to accelerate to 67.8% year-on-year over the same period, mainly due to spending on construction materials. Among the six largest cities, only Sofia's price increase was above the national average (18.6% y-o-y). At the national level, real estate sales recorded a decline of 3.2% in the third quarter compared to the second, with their annual growth slowing to 7.1% compared to 26.8% in the previous period.
The index of real estate sales by value also reported a significant slowdown to 17.9% year-on-year in the third quarter from 38% in the second quarter, the review reads. There were also signs of a cooling market, according to data of the Registry Agency. After a substantial decline in the first half of the year, the number of transactions and mortgages recorded a negative year-on-year change in the third and fourth quarters, with the year-to-date total also reporting declines of 2.1% and 1.1%, respectively.
Trud: In Bulgaria, the gap between the incomes of the richest and the poorest people is the largest compared to other EU countries. In Bulgaria, the income of the richest 20% of the population is 7.5 times higher than the income of the poorest 20% of the population, Eurostat said.
The European statistical office did not give reasons for the differences between the incomes of the richest and the poorest. But it can be assumed that factors such as the size of pensions and social payments, the size of the minimum wage and taxes on labour and dividend income have an impact on this gap.
Bulgarian National Radio quotes financial consultant Ivan Stoykov of the My Money portal as saying that interest in bank loans has not subsided, regardless of the current economic situation.
In his words, there is no decline in interest in both consumer and mortgage loans. According to central bank data for the past year both types of loans have increased, with the volume growing by 10-15%, the expert said.
There is a process of rising interest rates, but the correction of interest rates is not as pronounced as it was during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Stoykov noted.
The banks adjusting deposit rates upwards are relatively small or medium-sized, Ivan Stoykov explained.
People who are able to set aside funds continue to do so and savings are also growing, so at this rate of increase banks do not see the need to raise more funds by increasing interest rates, Stoykov concluded.
Capital: The District Prosecutor's Office in the southern city of Plovdiv confirmed the arrest of former politician, judge and member of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) Ivan Dimov. He was detained on Friday evening on the Trakia Motorway on a European arrest warrant, issued by the prosecutor's office in Wels, Austria, on suspicion of money laundering in the amount of EUR 170,000. The arrest of the former politician and former senior magistrate was first reported by the 24 Chasa daily on Friday evening and on Monday his detention was confirmed by the District Prosecutor's Office in Plovdiv. Its deputy chairwoman and spokeswoman Galina Andreeva told the Sega newspaper that the prosecutor's office will demand Dimov to remain in custody until the magistrates rule on the Austrian authorities' request, according to which the crime was committed between March and May 2022. The Plovdiv District Court granted the request and remanded him in custody. Capital recalls that Dimov currently serves as Chairman of the International Arbitration Court at the Legal Interaction Alliance.
Mediapool: Last year, over 245,000 more people went for a medical check-up compared to 2021, but overall the figures remain low and coverage barely exceeds 40%, show data from the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) provided to Mediapool. People over 18 who went for a check-up last year were 2,345,764 or 41% of those eligible, while in 2021 just over 2,100,000 people or only about 36% of the insured went for a medical a check-up. Fewer than half of the country's general practitioners (GPs) covered the majority of their patients (over 60%) with preventive check-ups last year, for which insured Bulgarians are eligible, the data also show.
For the first time last year, differential payment to GPs was set based on the level of coverage of their patients' preventive check-ups. This was coupled with an expansion of the package of preventive check-ups for which the insured are eligible. The aim was to focus on people's preventive care, which has been neglected for years at the expense of hospital treatment.
According to the rules, if a general practitioner has covered more than 60 per cent of their patients, then they would get BGN 26 for each preventive check-up. If they have covered between 46% and 60% of patients, the GP gets BGN 25 per check-up. If less than 46% of the patients are covered, the GP receives BGN 20 per examination.
The NHIF told Mediapool that 1,556 GPs covered less than 46% of patients subject to compulsory preventive medical checkups in 2022. 725 GPs covered between 46% and 60% of patients subject to compulsory prophylaxis, and 1,567 covered more than 60% of patients on their list.
The total number of preventive medical examinations carried out last year was 2,345,764, at a cost of BGN 53,505,062.
The lowest number of reported preventive examinations was reported in the Danubian town of Silistra - 23 039, and the highest number in Sofia - 370 365.
From the second half of 2022, the package of preventive examinations covered by the NHIF was expanded and new activities were added, such as preventive examinations for hepatitis B and C, ultrasound examination of the mammary glands in women aged 30 to 50, additional ultrasound examinations during pregnancy, etc.
However, the change was not widely publicised, so there was no increased interest in the second half of the year.