Bulgaria Finance Minister: Road to Nationalization Leads to GULAG

February 14, 2013, Thursday // 03:02
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Finance Minister: Road to Nationalization Leads to GULAG
Finance Minister Simeon Djankov, photo by BGNES

Asked to comment on the growing public discontent in Bulgaria with high power bills and the proposed solutions to the problem, Finance Minister Simeon Djankov has suggested that after nationalization comes GULAG.

"Nobody in the 21st century can afford to talk about nationalization. Inspections yes, the National Audit Office, the Public Financial Inspection Agency (PFIA), the prosecuting authority. If systematic problems are established, there is a way to change laws, there is a way to change electricity meters," Djankov stated Wednesday in an interview for the Cross news agency, commenting on the calls for the nationalization of power distributors.

"No responsible politician, regardless of what small party they chair, or the internal problems of the party, can afford to speak about nationalization of private companies because this presents us in a very bad light in Europe," he stated.

"If we should talk about nationalization, we shall reach collectivization, then GULAG, then Belene," the Finance Minister declared, specifying that he did not have in mind the Belene nuclear power plant project "about which Stanishev is now dreaming" but the Belene labor camp which was part of the network of forced labor camps in Communist Bulgaria.

Asked about the anticipated result of the probe of the prosecuting authority at the State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (DKEVR), he pointed out that the inspections of the National Audit Office and PFIA were more important because they would supply figures to the prosecutor's office.

Djankov emphasized that the main task was to reveal how DKEVR had approved investments of power distributors.

"They make these estimates each year, the DKEVR Chair adopts them, and they calculate prices on the basis of the reports," he explained.

"If it turns out that this price formation included projects which do not really support energy efficiency, because the law defines this as the main task of power distributors, then the former head of DKEVR must be held accountable," Djankov noted, adding that it was more important that the National Audit Office and PFIA be allowed to do their job so that the prosecuting authority could use the calculations in its work.

Bulgaria's Finance Minister went on to say that the January electricity bills would shed light on the situation because if they were still high, then there was obviously a systemic problem, while if they were substantially lower than the bills for December, then it was very likely that Energy Minister Dobrev had been right to suggest that the inconvenience had been caused by the large number of non-working days and the loner accounting period.

A number of Bulgarian cities have been staging mass protests over the high power bills for December for several days in a row.


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