site.btaMedia Review: February 22

Media Review: February 22
Media Review: February 22
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ENERGY  
 
Dir.bg writes that South Korea’s embassy in Sofia has reposted a statement by Hyundai Engineering in which the company expresses concerns about potentially unfair actions by certain competitors in the project for Units 7 and 8 of the Kozloduy N-plant.      

The company recalls that in early February, it participated in the pre-qualification evaluation for the construction project of Units 7, 8 at the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant in Bulgaria. The project owner, Kozloduy NPP-New Builds PLC, officially announced Hyundai E&C as the sole entity to pass the pre-qualification evaluation on February 16th. 

This will be Europe's first AP1000 nuclear power plant in partnership with Westinghouse. 
The company pledges to commit to a Fixed Lump Sum contract with the project owner and swiftly commence contract negotiations for the next phase. Furthermore, Hyundai will collaborate with Glavbolgarstroy,

Bulgaria's largest construction company, to maximize localization efforts in the Bulgarian nuclear industry. 
Hyundai says that it is also in close discussions with the Korean government and Korean state-owned banks to arrange the financing for the construction portion of the project.   

On Monday, lawmakers from the parliament's energy committee adopted a decision speeding up negotiations with Hyundai for the construction of the new units using the US AP1000 technology. 
The condition set by Bulgarian MPs is that 30% of the project should be implemented by Bulgarian companies and the cost of the first stage of engineering should not exceed USD 200 million, Bulgarian National Television reported.  

However, Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, as well as Energy Minister Rumen Radev, insisted on negotiations with another company to ensure a fairer competition. However, their proposal was voted down by the committee.  

TrudNews reports that the parliamentary energy committee decided that a fixed price for the construction of unit 7 of Kozloduy NPP should be negotiated with Hyundai Engineering & Construction. The draft decision was submitted by MPs Delyan Dobrev from GERB and Stanislav Anastasov from the Movements for Rights and Freedoms. The price should be fixed because in such projects it usually escalates over time, Delyan Dobrev explained. The decision also sets the construction period at 60 months for unit 7 and 54 months for unit 8. Another requirement is to sign a single contract with Westinghouse and Hyundai so that it is clear who is responsible for what and at least 30% of the works should be outsourced to Bulgarian companies. MPs from Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria requested that negotiations also be held with the US-based Bechtel, although it was not pre-selected because it did not meet the conditions, but the proposal was rejected.

***

Mediapool.bg reports that one of the two US-owned coal-fired power plants, ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3, stopped operation a minute before midnight, because on February 20 its long-term contract with the state-owned National Electric Company for the mandatory purchase of the electricity produced expired.  

Already in early January, the company told Mediapool.bg that when their contract expires, they will operate as a "seasonal" power plant and sell their electricity on the exchange. 
Then Executive Director Vassil Shtonov said that the power plant will work when there is more consumption and therefore demand for electricity - in winter. Or when one of the Kozloduy N-plant's two units is shut down for planned repairs, which happens in spring and autumn respectively, and the withdrawal of 1,000 MW from the market affects transactions.  

According to the ConturGlobal management, the shutdown is temporary and there will be no personnel cuts for the time being. The facility will carry out maintenance, and repairs in preparation for a time when electricity prices will be more profitable for the company, as now they are below the production costs.

RIFT IN RULING COALITION AFTER GOVERNANCE MEMORANDUM 


24 Chasa looks into the possible scenario for Bulgaria in the coming months after Mariya Gabriel, who was supposed to be the next prime minister from March, announced on Wednesday that she will not sign a governance memorandum proposed by Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria. She did it not only in front of the public - with a live broadcast on the evening TV news, but also in front of the EU and US ambassadors.  

Two-in-one elections are the logical conclusion of this non coalition, said GERB leader- Boyko Borissov, responding to the proposal. 

On Tuesday evening the leaders of Continue the Change and Democratic Bulgaria surprised with a draft memorandum for a full government mandate on certain conditions: a mirror rotation of prime minister and deputy prime minister- Denkov and Gabriel every nine months and equal number of appointments on the regulators between the two power-sharing coalitions GERB-UDF and Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria.  

Mariya Gabriel said a document drafted only by one party and sent to the other by chat application is an attempt to sabotage, not a desire to continue the joint governance.  

Atanas Atanasov of Democrats for Strong Bulgaria said that there are no red lines, everything can be negotiated, adding that the public doesn't want elections now and politicians have to comply with that. 

The publication writes that already on Tuesday night GERB discussed their possible reactions. For the largest partner in the (non-)coalition, it was clear that Kiril Petkov does not expect a signature and consent from Boyko Borissov for a loveless marriage in the next 4 years. GERB viewed such an agreement as a "package" - the specific proposals inside did not matter to CC-DB, as they predicted that Borissov would reject it anyway. So the parties fell back into the trap of "whoever asks for elections first will be to blame". 

Parties are already betting on who will be caretaker prime minister and calculate that it will be central bank governor Dimitar Radev, as the most acceptable figure for President Rumen Radev. The constitutional amendments obliged the president to choose only from a list of ten persons.  

Meanwhile, it became clear that the date for the rotation, March 6, has now moved,  

because GERB leader Boyko Borissov is attending a European People’s Party congress in Bucharest and cannot vote for the cabinet's resignation. And from March 8 to the increasingly likely dissolution of parliament there will be exactly a month in which to combine the early and the European elections. Brussels has set an EU-wide window of June 6 to 9 June for the European Parliament elections. 

Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov said that it makes sense for the government to exist if it continues with the reforms. The memorandum is a steppingstone for talks and negotiations, Denkov insisted. "We need to focus on reforms – appointments to the counter-corruption commission, changes to the judiciary law, appointments to the regulators. How the regulators work will determine the business environment in Bulgaria and how people will live," he said.   

And these priorities had to be spelled out in a document because "since December there has been a lack of progress on the very reforms that we have put at the heart of the country's development and for which we formed this government. The purpose of this memorandum is to bring the focus back on precisely those reforms and priorities."  

***

Capital daily writes that CC-DB are trying to isolate Delyan Peevski and that Borissov has to choose between governing with the coalition or early elections because of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). MRF chairman Delyan Peevski, also expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed memorandum. The Movement has no claims to participate in the executive, but hopes to have a quota in the election of members of the regulatory bodies. It is believed that a significant number of them are controlled by Peevski and this gives him considerable power in various areas, including the judiciary. The votes of the MRF MPs are needed in the vote on the parliamentary quota in the Supreme Judicial and Supreme Prosecutorial Councils, as well as in the election of members of the new counter-corruption commission, which require a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. The Movement considered trading this for retaining its influence in the other key regulators. The CC-DB's proposal that the quotas should be shared between them and GERB effectively excludes the MRF from the calculations. For this reason, Peevski threatened that the movement would block the election of the bodies, which require a majority of 160 MPs. "We will not support this split and we will not participate in the split," he said. At the same time, Peevski admitted that the CC-DB had shared their ideas with them and GERB before the document was made public. "I thought they were joking," he said. 

***

Dnevnik.bg interviews Democratic Bulgaria co-leader Hristo Ivanov after GERB rejected a governance memorandum proposed by CC-DB and said that early elections are the logical end of this non-coalition. 

Ivanov said that in a democracy early elections are the final way out of a situation in which the government cannot continue and we return to the voters to evaluate and legitimize our positions. “I hope, however, that we will find the necessary solutions and implement the rotation as it was planned. All that is needed is to understand how we can legitimately continue to exercise power and share responsibility for it. We can do that by agreeing on another set of ambitious reforms, or we will have to seek legitimacy by going to elections.” 

Of Mariya Gabriel’s refusal to sign the memorandum, Hristov said: “Mariya  Gabriel does not deserve to be used as a spokesperson for such a position: to refuse negotiations on issues of great importance for the country and our partners, to throw out barefaced claims about the unconstitutionality of our thorough proposals without being able to formulate any alternative. She does not deserve to be pushed forward so that a status quo in the judiciary, the services and the regulators, which I am sure she does not like, can be hidden behind her back. I call for a conversation with arguments and alternatives, not emotions and adjectives. It is time to make clear commitments to reform and to stop playing games. And this is a conversation with Mr. Borissov. This government needs to answer the question of how we continue to fight corruption, how we continue to reform the judiciary, how we reform the services and how we staff the regulators in a way that is publicly credible. “ 

***

Speaking on Bulgarian National Television Lena Borislavova of CC-DB said that she does  not understand the overreaction of GERB and that the memorandum is an invitation for negotiations, not an ultimatum.  

She said that there are two big problems that need to be solved - the election of the heads of regulators and the problems in the judiciary.  "I want to hear what their vision for the regulators is. Whether they want floating majorities, whether political appointments should enter the regulators, whether they stand by their idea that the MRF should nominate one third of all appointments," Borislavova said.  "We see how these regulators work. The regulators are elected through back dealings in some cabinets. This process cannot continue in this way," she added.  

LIFESTYLE 

24 Chasa writes that for the first time less than 50,000 babies were born in Bulgaria in 2023. In the last decade the number of newborns has decreased by about 10, 000.  

The newborns were 49,610 in 2023, according to the Hospitals Index. This is 2,062 fewer children than in 2022.  According to the statistics, the last time more than 60,000 babies in a year were born was in 2019, but since 2010, the trend of declining births has been steady. In 2012, 64,000 newborns were born - about 7,000 fewer than the previous year and 17,000 fewer than the year of the baby boom - 2009.  

The decline in the birth rate and the increase in the average age of the population is a trend not only in Bulgaria, but throughout Europe, Dr. Anton Tonev, advisor to Health Minister Hristo Hinkov told 24 Chasa. The reasons for fewer and fewer babies are complex - living conditions, social status of parents, carefree life.  

According to Dr. Yuri Hranov, there is high migration and lack of employment and financial security in young families. They go to work in other countries and usually have children there. “Bulgaria gives birth to children, but they are not born in Bulgaria," he said. 

For Tonev, improving life in our country is the strongest factor that will bring people back and motivate them to have more children.

/PP/

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By 01:31 on 22.04.2024 Today`s news

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