site.btaMedia Review: May 23

Media Review: May 23
Media Review: May 23
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POLITICS 

Trud, Sega quote an opinion poll by the Trend agency, which indicates that GERB has a comfortable lead of over 10% for the upcoming June 9 early parliamentary elections, and is followed by a group of 3 formations with almost similar results: Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) (15.4%), Movement for Rights and Freedoms (14.9%) and Vazrazhdane (14.8%). The remaining days of the campaign will decide the second, third and fourth place. Voter turnout will be similar to that of the last parliamentary elections, around 48%, 3% lower for the European Parliament elections.

Sega reports that in the first 10 days of the election campaign for both the early parliamentary election and the European Parliament elections, 16 formations spent a total of BGN 587,357, which makes media costs significantly less than those invested in the campaigns in recent years. This was indicated by data from the monitoring of media advertising during the election campaign, prepared by the Institute for Public Environment Development, published on the Open Parliament platform. It includes the official pages of 39 national and regional media - 9 televisions, 3 radio stations, 11 newspapers and 16 information sites and agencies. The formations currently represented in Parliament allocated the most funds for advertising: GERB-UDF with BGN 173,192, CC-DB with BGN 125,106 and Vazrazhdane with BGN 109,099. The three formations have invested about 70% of all funds for media advertising.

A Wednesday debate on the air of NOVA before the upcoming 2-in-1 elections on June 9  included Toma Bikov from GERB-UDF, Iskren Arabadzhiev from CC-DB, Yordan Todorov from Vazrazhdane, Ivan Chenchev from BSP for Bulgaria and Stanislav Balabanov from There Is Such a People. In the first round of the debate, the candidates explained the priorities of their parties. Bikov stated that GERB-UDF will make every effort to ensure that Bulgaria has a regular government in the next four years. Arabadzhiev argued in favour of changing the economic model, the way and speed with which Bulgaria develops. Todorov reiterated Vazrazhdane's goal of renegotiating Bulgaria's EU membership, especially in terms of agriculture. Chenchev spoke of the Bulgarian Socialist Party's vision for Bulgaria which aims to ensure that the country does not depend on one management mandate. Balabanov pointed to clear and specific policies aimed at Bulgarian citizens, regulating  foreign debt through the budget, fighting the demographic crisis, renegotiating the Green Deal and amending the Constitution.  During the second part of the debate, the candidates clashed over the Recovery and Resilience Plan and its delayed implementation.  In the third part of the debate, the candidates gave their ideas on how to deal with poverty in the country.

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Sega, Telegraph, Mediapool, 24 Chasa report that the caretaker Government appointed a new composition of the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC). The previous chair, Stoil Alipiev, was released, as were the other two members of the commission, Angel Dzhalev and Konstantin Arabadjiev.  The new CPC Chair is Maria Filipova, who just a day prior was released from the position of deputy head of the Financial Supervision Commission. There was huge dissatisfaction with Stoil Alipiev's work, including from the Minister of Economy. The previous minister, Bogdan Bogdanov, was never able to fire him, despite accusations of unregulated interference and a targeted campaign against traders by the CPC.

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Mediapool, Trud and 24 Chasa quote caretaker Prime Minister Dimitar Glavchev, who said that the Cabinet has already deposited BGN 39 million in the accounts of state-run higher education institutions to increase the salaries of their academic staff. The caretaker Government decided to allocate BGN 80 million not only for the academic staff, but also for the administrative staff and PhD students. Last week higher education institutions in Bulgaria threatened to protest due to non-fulfillment of the commitments undertaken by the State in accordance with the Higher Education Act which provide for an increase in the salaries of the academic staff.

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS 

Mediapool, 24 Chasa write that Bulgaria’s caretaker Energy Minister Vladimir Malinov conferred with the White House National Security Council representatives Steven Burns (energy security) and Jeremy Long (Balkans and Central Europe) in Washington DC. Malinov stressed that the capabilities of the Bulgarian gas transmission system and the capacity of the LNG terminals in Greece can be used by US LNG producers and traders as a response to the noticeable return of Russian pipeline gas to Bulgaria and the region through intermediaries. 

Mediapool adds that during his visit to Washington DC,  Minister Malinov also held talks with the  International Development Finance Corporation for provision of technical assistance for the construction or the rehabilitation of a pumped-storage hydroelectric power plant that was seriously damaged two years ago (Chaira Pumped Storage Hydro Power Plant).

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24 Chasa, Mediapool quote caretaker Defence Minister Atanas Zapryanov, who confirmed in a conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Rustem Umerov that the Bulgarian caretaker Government will continue to support Ukraine.  Zapryanov  indicated that the provision of military and military-technical assistance to Ukraine, and its Euro-Atlantic integration, is one of the priorities of the current caretaker Government in the field of defence and this process will continue based on the decisions adopted by the National Assembly. Earlier, Zapryanov said that aid to Ukraine is moving according to schedule. 

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24 Chasa, Telegraph, Trud write that President Rumen Radev will visit the Vatican and the Italian Republic this week, leading a Bulgarian delegation, which is traditionally received at an audience by the head of the Roman Catholic Church on the occasion of the Day of the Holy Brothers Cyril and Methodius, of the Bulgarian Alphabet, Education and Culture and of Slav Letters, May 24.


Telegraph adds that the first international visit of the newly elected President of the Republic of North Macedonia Gordana Siljanovska-Davkova will also consist of leading a state-church delegation to Italy and the Vatican on the occasion of May 24. The daily recalls that in recent years, after the signing of the 2017 Treaty of Friendship, Goodneighbourliness and Cooperationbetween Bulgaria and the Republic of North Macedonia, the heads of the delegations of both countries held meetings during their visits to Rome on May 24.   In the official announcement from the office of the newly elected president of North Macedonia, there is no information about such a meeting this year. "Will this cause an international scandal?" ponders the publication in the article's title. 

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Telegraph, Mediapool report that the bridge over the Danube river near Ruse will be under repairs for two years. The renovation is expected to begin in early July. Traffic on the bridge will not be stopped, but will be regulated by a traffic light and will be operated for 10-12 hours during the day. The total value of the repairs is BGN 44 million, provided by the State Budget. All carriers and tourists whose routes cross the Danube Bridge will need to allow extra travel time and be aware of one-way traffic on the facility. 

HOME AFFAIRS 

Mediapool writes that road repairs of the section near Aksakovo, where on May 16 a car of the National Service for Protection (NSP), in which the co-chairman of Continue the Change (CC) Kiril Petkov was riding, collided with another car, resulting in the death of its driver, were assigned by the regional road administration of Varna at the beginning of May. A day ago, caretaker Prime Minister Dimitar Glavchev ordered an investigation into why the area of the accident was under repair while the investigation was still ongoing.  Glavchev's reaction came a few days after Interior Minister Kalin Stoyanov indicated that an investigation had established "indisputably" that Petkov's car had the right of way.

Telegraph quotes European Center for Transport Policies road expert Ivaylo Zhelyazkov  who said that the driver who died in the accident did not have good visibility due to road signs and vegetation, and the NSP vehicle was traveling above the speed limit (150-160 km/h). He explained that the high speed and the weight of the NSP car led to the fatal outcome. The other car was not at fault, except that it was poorly maintained. He added that locals  questioned claimed that they had not experienced poor road conditions in this section that would warrant repairs. 

Trud writes that by explaining that he is under NSP protection detail due to information about direct threats to his life and security, Kiril Petkov violated the laws on the protection of classified information and on the NSP. 

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Mediapool, Sega report that the District Prosecutor's Office in Varna has submitted to the court a request for the termination of the activity of two organizations, the Shipka Bulgarian National Movement  and the Vasil Levski Bulgarian Military Union under grounds inciting ethnic and religious hatred, inciting conflicts with foreigners and organized military training. There is still no court decision on the request. The two organizations have been around for years and gained prominence as the migrant crisis intensified after the start of the conflict in Syria more than 10 years ago. Along with other "hunters" of migrants, they organized civil patrols along the border with Turkiye. In the years of the pandemic, they were among the biggest opponents of vaccination against coronavirus. The organizations have always demonstrated a pro-Russian orientation.

HEALTHCARE

In the Bulgarian National Television morning programme Prof. Ivan Litvinenko, Chair of the Public Council for the Construction of a National Children's Hospital, said that the process for its development is moving forward. The construction of the terms of reference for the project, the most important stage on which the following stages depend, was undertaken by the European Investment Bank absolutely free of charge. According to their procedure, they held a competition, which was won by a consortium of experts from Spain. Coincidentally or not, this is the same consortium that already has experience in Bulgaria with the construction of the hospital in Burgas, explained Litvinenko.

24 Chasa writes that Health Minister Galya Kondeva held meetings with representatives of the European Investment Bank and the consulting consortium which will prepare the package of strategic documents necessary for the construction of a National Children's Hospital. The documents will be ready within 5 months. The consultants will prepare a strategy for awarding public procurements related to the construction of the National Children's Hospital, as well as recommendations for project management. The deadline for this final report is the end of January 2025.

ENERGY

Sega, Trud, Telegraph, 24 Chasa quote Energy and Water Regulatory Comission (EWRC) Chair Ivan Ivanov, who said at a press briefing that the price of electricity for household consumers will increase from July 1 by about 2%. Fears that household electricity will drastically increase in price for the next 12 months transpired after the Kozloduy NPP submitted an application to the energy regulator for a 30% increase in the price of nuclear electricity a week ago.   Prior to that, caretaker Energy Minister Vladimir Malinov also warned of the risk of an increase in the price of electricity from July 1, if a deficit of over BGN 450 million in the Electricity System Security Fund is not covered. In recent days, however, Malinov began to reassure that money for the fund will be found through the state budget, and Kozloduy NPP will change its request and correct the requested increase. EWRC experts are still making their calculations and verifying the investments made by the energy companies, but the increase is currently calculated at around 2%. 

Telegraph writes that the price of heating will decrease by 5%  on average for all heating systems in the country, as indicated by calculations of the  Association of Heating Companies (AHC), conducted in parallel with the EWRC . AHC Chair Kremen Georgiev said that the prices of thermal energy and energy-efficient electricity from combined production, proposed in the applications of the district heating companies are unrealistic and will not receive approval from EWRC.

Mediapool, 24 Chasa report that the Government allowed the National Electric Company (NEC) to sell part of the equipment delivered for the Belene NPP to the Kozloduy NPP. The transaction will guarantee the security of the equipment of the Kozloduy NPP and optimize the time for carrying out repair activities.This is not the first time that the owner of the equipment for the suspended construction project of the Belene NPP , NEC, sells parts of it to the nuclear power plant, the publications point out.

ECONOMY 

Sega reports of a collapse of foreign direct investments by 81.5% in the first quarter of the year, according to Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) statistics. From January to March, EUR 358.9 of capital entered the country, compared to EUR 1.935 billion for the same period in 2023. The strongest decrease was recorded in March, when the flow of foreign capital into the Bulgarian economy was only EUR 150.6 million. The BNB data are preliminary and usually undergo upward corrections by the end of the year, but nevertheless the decline in investments will be difficult to catch up. The main reason for the striking difference in direct investments this year compared to last is related to "debt instruments" and "reinvested profit".

Telegraph, Trud quote Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria Vice President and Chief Economist Lyuboslav Kostov, who, at a forum organized by the trade unions dedicated to the new European directive on minimum wages, stressed that the minimum wage for the country must become at least BGN 1,080 from January 1, 2025, instead of the current BGN 933. Bulgaria must transpose the European minimum wage directive by November 15.   In this regard, the trade unions insist that the minimum wage should be brought closer to the necessary means of subsistence, which according to the latest expert calculations point to BGN 1,450 per month for one person. Podkrepa Confederation of Labour Chief Economist Atanas Katsarchev and  Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA) Executive Director Dobrin Ivanov also discussed the necessity for this on the air of BNT's morning programme.

Trud reports that, against the background of a 13.7% increase in the EU car market, new car registrations in Bulgaria have increased compared to April 2023 by 51.3% to a total of 4,243 units, placing the country in second place in market growth after Cyprus. In February and March, Bulgaria was in first place according to this indicator. In the four months since the beginning of the year, Bulgaria maintained  a leadership position in terms of growth in the automobile market, with an increase in newly registered cars of 47.9%. Newly registered gasoline cars in the country in April had the largest share (3,307 units), followed by diesel (630 units), fully electric (174 units), fully hybrid (84 units) and plug-in hybrids (11 units).

Mediapool reports that vocational training in secondary education does not sufficiently correspond to the needs of the labour market. Training continues in specialties that are outdated and not in demand. Data show that half of students from vocational schools will not work in the specialty they studied for, indicates a study by the Institute for Market Economics presented on Wednesday. The study covers a graduating class of nearly 22,000 students who will study in the next five years in specialties from six selected sectors: agriculture, processing industry, construction, transport, hospitality and catering, and information and communication technologies. The results of the index show that probably more than 10,000 of them will not work in their filed of study.

Mediapool, 24 Chasa report that the Czech company Skoda, the French company Alstom and the Polish companies PESA and Stadler Polska have submitted bids for the supply of 35 railcars for BGN 1.1 billion under the Recovery and Resilience Plan. The Polish division of Germany's Stadler has already signed another major contract with the ministry for 7 double-decker trains. The project has an estimated value of BGN 1.1 billion and will include the purchase of 35 motor trains with a minimum of 200 seats and a speed of over 160 km/h. The public procurement deadline expired on Tuesday.

SOCIETY

Trud, Telegraph, Mediapool quote a data from the National Statistical Institute (NSI), which indicates that the average life expectancy for men in Bulgaria is 69.9 years, while for women it is 7.4 years higher, 77.3 years. The average life expectancy of the population in cities is 3.1 years higher (74.4 years) than that of the population in villages (71.3 years). The NSI also estimated that as of December 31, 2023, the population of Bulgaria is 6,445,481 people, which represents 1.4% of the population of the European Union. Compared to 2022, the country's population decreased by 2,229 people, or by 0.03%. Men numbered 3,097,698 (48.1%) and women were 3,347,783 (51.9%), or 1,081 women per 1,000 men. The number of men predominates in the age group up to 55 years. With increasing age, the number and relative share of women in the total population of the country increases.

/DT/

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By 08:58 on 14.06.2024 Today`s news

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