site.btaMedia Review: November 29

Media Review: November 29
Media Review: November 29
Bulgarian newspapers (BTA Photo)

POLITICS

24 Chasa's main story presents five possible scenarios for the political landscape in 2024. The daily highlights the importance of the adoption of constitutional amendments affecting the caretaker governments - the changes take away the President's power to appoint caretaker cabinets. One thing is for sure - if the constitution is changed, the people connected to head of State Rumen Radev will not organize another snap election, the daily writes. Here are the five scenarios mentioned:

1.      The rotation in cabinet [between Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) and GERB-UDF] in March happens as planned and Mariya Gabriel is appointed as the new Prime Minister. However, relations between the two political forces have soured to the point that they have neither the will nor the ability to govern together. Borissov already vowed that he would change most ministers after the rotation, while CC-DB has repeated from the beginning that it will not allow ministerial changes apart from the rotation of the Prime Minister. The two sides could use the pretext of misunderstanding about the rotation and agree on 2-in-1 elections [together with the election of the Bulgarian Members of the European Parliament]. Then Gabriel resigns the cabinet. Or someone from the opposition puts a motion for another vote of no confidence, and GERB leader Boyko Borissov announces that he can no longer support such an assemblage [a word that is often used for the government of CC-DB and GERB (and its support from Movement for Rights and Freedoms) when the speaker wants to underscore its perceived unprincipled nature]. There is time until about 10 April to schedule a 2-in-1 election.

2.      The daily quotes sociologist Andrey Raychev as saying that Borissov will not allow the rotation to take place to avoid this cabinet's failures to be attributed to his party. According to this scenario, the GERB leader will demand elections and will be supported by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov will be forced to resign his cabinet, leading to a 2-in-1 election.

3.      The assemblage decides that elections will bring more of the same and make the rotation but regroup. A GERB victory at the elections of the Bulgarian MEPs can be reasonably predicted, MRF are also expected to perform solidly, while CC-DB will make its debut at such elections. CC-DB's performance will be the key to the new relations between the political forces in government. If it is a failure, Borissov will have grounds to demand many of CC-DB's representatives in the cabinet to be replaced.

4.      DB leaves the assemblage as MRF floor leader Delyan Peevski starts to have more and more influence on every important decision of the majority in Parliament. Peevski has been sanctioned by the United States for corruption under the Global Magnitsky Act. 24 Chasa also highlights the importance of MRF's congress on February 24, as it will elect the party's next leader and will set its goals. The daily says that the MRF's ambitions will surely be to enter power formally and not just as part of the majority - something that will require new elections.

5.      The rotation passes, the MEPs vote passes, the assemblage is stabilized, but the scandals remain. GERB and MRF's potential victory in the MEPs elections can set a different sense of the political leadership in the country and that could lead to a repeat of the 2014 scenario when the ruling BSP lost the European elections, MRF withdrew its support from the cabinet and it was ousted. So Borissov's GERB came to power.

* * *

Telegraph reports of a dispute over constitutional reform between MPs and magistrates at Tuesday's meeting of the Parliamentary Committee on Constitutional Affairs. The magistrates pointed out that the amendments project does not remove opportunities for political influence, while the Committee's Chair Radomir Cholakov noted that MPs can be respectable and are not members of organized crime groups. Justice Minister Atanas Slavov stressed that it is important to add to the requirements for the selection of quota members in the Supreme Judicial Council that they be "proven politically independent and neutral". 

* * *

Trud features an article on the constitutional amendments, which remove the restriction only Bulgarian citizens who have no other citizenship to be eligible to be elected as MPs. Currently this is one of the most problematic texts in the bill, the daily quotes MPs from various parliamentary groups as saying. CC-DB MPs explained that it is possible to introduce a compromise to allow dual citizenship for MPs, ministers, president, between the first and second reading but with the restriction that dual citizenship must be from an EU Member State. BSP and Vazrazhdane opposed the introduction of dual citizenship. CC-DB, GERB-UDF and MRF currently have no intention of abandoning the amendment, the article reads and adds that those political forces admit that they have not received a positive opinion from any expert on the subject so far.

ECONOMICS

24 Chasa has an extensive interview with Assoc. Prof. Ralitsa Simeonova-Ganeva and Assoc. Prof. Martin Ivanov who over the last three years have calculated inflation in Bulgaria from 1750 to present day. “Switching to euro is not something unfamiliar - we have had 4 different leva in the last century”, the article's headline reads. History’s lessons show that the economic effects of introducing a new currency are primarily the result of what economic policies a country pursues, Simeonova-Ganeva explains. The effect of the introduction of the euro in Bulgaria will depend mostly on the degree to which the economy and institutions are prepared for the new currency and whether prudent fiscal and monetary policies are pursued. “Historically, we can say that there has been some dramatization of the inflation rate - Bulgarians have gone through much more severe inflationary processes and are among the few nations in the world to have experienced a taste of hyperinflation,” Simeonova-Ganeva points out. At the same time, she adds that the past does not matter when many Bulgarians are struggling to fill their consumer basket for today and tomorrow. This problem is also faced by a number of consumers from other EU countries, but unlike them in Bulgaria the share of the population at risk of poverty or social exclusion is significantly higher - 32.2%, she noted.

On Bulgarian National Television’s morning show, former Social Policy Minister Hasan Ademov stated that the State Budget, the State Social Insurance Budget, and the National Health Insurance Fund Budget are face several significant challenges - demography, inequalities, poverty risk and income policy. “We are far from the average European income. As for poverty and the risk of social exclusion - at the end of June Eurostat came out with a statistic according to which one in three Bulgarians is at risk of poverty and social exclusion, and this cannot be fought with financial resources alone,” he pointed out.

* * *

Trud reports that the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) forecasts lower economic growth than Finance Minister Assen Vassilev. The gross domestic product's growth for 2024 is expected to be 2.7% and will reach a 3.6% increase in 2025, BNB estimates. The Finance Ministry envisages a 3.2% GDP rise in its 2024 State Budget Bill.

Trud's front page article quotes Finance Minister Vassilev as saying that the Council of Ministers is preparing a methodology for increasing administrative staff's salaries. A total of BGN 375 million is envisaged for this purpose in the 2024 State Budget Bill, but the idea is that the government, not the parliament, will decide who will get the salary increase. Vassilev explained that the aim is to reduce the pay gap in different departments. The large differences in salaries of different officials occur precisely because, over the years, some ministers have managed to fight their administration to get a salary increase and other ministers have failed. If Minister Vassilev's proposal is approved, many administrative employees will not get a pay rise in 2024 because some others have lower salaries, while inflation continues to be very high for everyone, the daily states. "We want a real wage increase in the state administration by 5%," Podkrepa Labor Confederation Chief Economist Atanas Katsarchev says, quoted by the daily. Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) Chief Economist Lyuboslav Kostov also demanded a 10% wage increase. The 2024 State Budget Bill was also sharply criticized by the BNB governor, representatives of the Fiscal Council and employers, the newspaper writes.

On Nova Television's morning show, CITUB President Plamen Dimitrov said that if there is no progress on the Confederation's demands, several of its branch structures will be staging a national protest on December 14. He stressed that dialogue with the government has been ongoing for a month, and what the CITUB is currently demanding is another BGN 400 million in the State Budget 2024 for wages in various sectors. Dimitrov added that the CITUB is starting talks with the parliamentary parties.

Duma’s main story highlights BSP’s negative vote for the 2024 State Budget Bill.

The Bulgarian National Radio quoted Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov as saying that “political games with the health budget are dangerous.” The non-acceptance of the National Health Insurance Fund's (NHIF) plan-account at a committee meeting on Tuesday is a blow to both doctors and patients, according to Denkov. 

* * *

Trud has an article on the cost of visiting Bulgaria’s ski resorts. A ski holiday in the country costs on average around BGN 200 a day, according to Trud research. The amount includes a hotel, a daily lift pass and food.

PATRIARCH NEOPHYTE

bTV reported that the head of the Bulgarian orthodox Church Patriarch Neophyte was hospitalized at the Military Medical Academy due to lung disease, citing information from the Holy Synod. In September 2022, the Patriarch was admitted to hospital with pneumonia.

/MR/

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By 08:54 on 27.02.2024 Today`s news

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