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SOFIA MORNING NEWS FOR 2014-07-30
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30 July 2014, Issue 3988
by Novinite.com
Bulgaria's Daily Newspaper since 2001
10028 subscribers of Novinite.com
145046 articles
590 interviews
9314 pictures
 
BUSINESS POLITICS WORLD SOCIETY SPORTS FORUM
 
Parliament Passes At First Reading NZOK Budget Update


Bulgaria's outgoing Parliament passed at first reading the update of the National Health Insurance Fund (NZOK) budget on Tuesday afternoon, reports Dnes.read
Georgi Bliznashki 'Agreed in Principle' to Be in Interim Gov't


Bulgarian lecturer prof. Georgi Bliznashki said on Monday he had given his consent "in principle" to join the caretaker cabinet due to be sworn in after August 6.read
GERB to Win Most Votes in Next Election – IMP Poll


Bulgaria’s opposition center-right GERB party would have won 27.2% of the vote if parliamentary elections were held last Friday. read
 
 
MORE TOP NEWS
Ukraine Demands Changes to Gas Transit Deal with Russia

Westinghouse CEO Arrives in Bulgaria

Bulgarian Municipalities Seek Urgent Reforms, Greater Decentralization

Torrential Rains Kill One Near Bulgaria's Gabrovo

Roma Protesters End Railroad Blockade in Sofia

Russia's VTB, Sberbank 'to Enter EU Sanctions List' - WSJ

Chinese Investors Eye Municipal Terrain in Bulgaria's Plovdiv

Gela Bagpipe Contest to Take Place This Weekend

Bulgaria's Ancient City of Perperikon Excavations Funding Trimmed

Dangerous WWII Bomb Found at Bulgaria's Black Sea Coast


UPS & DOWNS
Bulgarian President Turns 1st Sod on Scientific and Tech Park in Sofia

Bulgaria's New Environment Minister 'Has No Degree' from Munich
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TOP NEWS
BULGARIAN LAWMAKERS AGREE TO UPDATE STATE BUDGET

Bulgarian MPs approved budget amendment proposals during an emergency session on Tuesday afternoon.

Revisal of National Health Insurance Fund (NZOK)'s funds for 2014 by BGN 200 M was also supported by a majority. read more


BUSINESS

RUSSIA'S VTB, SBERBANK 'TO ENTER EU SANCTIONS LIST' - WSJ

Five people and two companies are to be added to the EU's blacklist over the Ukraine crisis, the Wall Street Journal wrote on Monday.

Sberbank and VTB Group, which are among Russia's largest banks, will reportedly be affected.

The fresh names of Russian citizens, which will reportedly include "oligarchs" from President Vladimir Putin's inner circle, will be added to the 87 Russian and Ukrainian officials on which Brussels has imposed asset freezes and travel bans since the standoff between Moscow and Kiev worsened this winter.

New entries into the list are expected to be announced on Wednesday.

The sanctions will be aimed at curtailing the presence of certain Russian entities and citizens on the EU's financial markets, where they will be barred from issuing bonds or directly requesting loans.

Some politicians on the continent expect such a development could pressure Putin into changing his stance on the Ukraine crisis.

Leaders are due to have a final say on the measures later on Tuesday.

Documents cited by Russian daily Kommersant reveal that an arms embargo and a ban on exports of dual-use equipment with possible civil and military applications will also find its place onto the agenda.

Another point will be a ban on exports of prospective gas and oil extraction technology to Russia, though such a decision will not have an impact on ongoing deliveries.

Russia's RIA Novosti agency reports that EU diplomats have also agreed to introduce commercial and investment restrictions regarding the Crimean Peninsula, which Russia incorporated following a local referendum held March 16. The measures are designed to affect Crimea's energy, transport and telecoms sector.

A report cited by the website EUObserver estimated potential damages that the sanctions would bring to the European economy at EUR 30 to 40 B until the end of 2014 and some UER 90 M by end-2015. read more


CHINESE INVESTORS EYE MUNICIPAL TERRAIN IN BULGARIA'S PLOVDIV

Chinese investors have showed interest in two municipal terrains in Bulgaria's Plovdiv with a total area of 30 decares, which are located in the city's industrial zone.

The Asian businessmen consider opening manufacturing companies in Plovdiv's Trakia industrial zone, which brings together manufacturing facilities and commercial companies offices, Standart news reports. read more


NEARLY HALF OF BULGARIAN COMPANIES HAVE NO EMPLOYEES

Nearly half of active companies in Bulgaria don't have a single employee, shows data of the National Statistics Institute for the period 2008-2012, quoted by BTA. 

In 144 330 companies, or 44.6% of the active companies, the only employee is the owner. 

As of 2012 40% of the companies have up to four employees and barely 8% have between five and nine employees. Nine percent of the companies have more than 10 employees and in them work over 70% of the workforce in Bulgaria. 

In the surveyed five-year period nearly 40% of the newly established companies were in the retail sector, shows the NSI data. 

Of the companies set up in 2007, by the end of the five-year period, survived only 8%. Most viable proved to be the companies in the construction sector with 12.5% “survival rate”.  

In general, most viable proved to be the companies in the extractive industry, production and distribution of energy, water supply and purification and the financial and insurance sector. read more


MOTORCYCLE POLICE TO ENFORCE TRAFFIC REGULATIONS ON BG ROADS

As of beginning of August Bulgaria's Interior Ministry deploys motorcycle police with speed radars along the country's roads, reports the BNT public broadcaster. 

The reason is the increase in heavy traffic accidents – 3600 since the beginning of the year, with 358 victims, which are 50 more deaths, compared to the same period of last year. read more


HALF MILLION BULGARIANS DRIVE VOLKSWAGEN CARS

Volkswagen is the most common car brand in Bulgaria, according to the Ministry of Interior data regarding the registration of motor vehicles.

A total of 476,327 Volkswagen automobiles have been registered in Bulgaria, however 238,940 of them are over 20 years old, which makes the brand the leader in the ranking of old cars in the country, as well, Speed-Press reports. read more


ENERGY

UKRAINE DEMANDS CHANGES TO GAS TRANSIT DEAL WITH RUSSIA

Ukraine's state-owned utility Naftogaz has insisted that conditions of gas transit to Europe previously agreed with Russian concern Gazprom be revised.

"We have sent Gazprom a letter with the demand that the transit agreement be altered, and this process has already begun," Naftogaz executive Andriy Kobolev told the Ukrainian private channel ICTV, in an interview cited by UNIAN news agency.

Kiev believes methods for accounting the quantities of gas transited via Ukraine need changes.

Kobolev had earlier warned that the case might be referred to the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce's Arbitration Institute if Gazprom refused talks on that matter.

On Tuesday he said that Naftogaz hoped a breakthrough in negotiations could be reached by September.

Another case is pending at the Stockholm Arbitration Institute regarding prices Ukraine pays for Russian gas, after Kiev argued last month they values were not market-oriented. The Kiev leadership took the step to echo Gazprom's move after the latter introduced prepayment for Ukraine's gas over prolonged debts and referred a case to arbitration.

Amounts of Russian gas running through Ukrainian pipes have been dwindling over the past years, with 2013 levels of about 84 billion cubic meters being quite below the minimum of 110 bcm Russia is obliged to transport via the country's network.

Naftogaz's actions also come against the backdrop of an EU-Russia dispute over the South Stream gas pipeline project, with Brussels claiming it violates the bloc's Third Energy Package aimed at liberalization of supplies.

The infrastructural project leading gas into Central Europe bypasses Ukraine, and Kiev has insisted that the EU Commission put its efforts into stopping it.

Estimates of the Ukrainian utility suggest that if it is carried out and becomes operational, South Stream will reduce gas transit via Ukraine by 60 billion cubic meters on a yearly basis.

Kobolev told ICTV on Tuesday that Nord Stream provides substantial evidence for the trend, as its use to supply Germany with gas decreased deliveries through Ukraine by more than 40 bcm, down from 110-120 bcm every year. read more


WESTINGHOUSE CEO ARRIVES IN BULGARIA

Westinghouse President and CEO Danny Roderick is in Bulgaria to meet government officials and energy sector representatives.

Reports by Mediapool and BGNES news websites, however, do not point an aim of his visit.

His visit comes less than a week after the outgoing cabinet failed to sign an agreement with the company on the construction of a new unit at the Kozloduy NPP.

A decision was due to be taken at the last Council of Ministers' session before the cabinet resignation, but was left to the next government, which would have to confirm commitment to the project.

The deal envisages that Westinghouse is to have a 30% stake in Unit 7 during the construction stage. Construction is expected to kick off in 2016, and the block is to be operational within five years.

Westinghouse came under the spotlight in Bulgaria after outgoing Economy Minister Dragomir Stoynev met company executives while on a working trip to the US.

Plans for cooperation on the reactor were then criticized as many argued the decision to hire a certain company as a subcontractor for the Unit 7 had been adopted in a non-transparent way. read more


BULGARIAN SOUTH STREAM SECTION ISSUED POSITIVE EIA REPORT

The offshore South Stream gas pipeline section will not have a substantial impact on the environment and the socio-economic sphere in the region of Bulgaria's Varna.

The Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) report was prepared by international experts from URS Infrastructure and Environment UK Limited. read more


PROPERTIES

BULGARIANS SPENT BGN 200M ON PROPERTY IN JUNE - BROKERS

At least BGN 200M higher levels of cash flow were recorded on Bulgaria's property market by the end of June and the beginning of July, 2014.

According to brokers, additional BGN 40M real estate investments are expected in the autumn when the market activity traditionally improves. The flows of cash have most probably come from deposits withdrawn during the banking system panic in June, Bulgarian 24 chasa suggests. read more


DOMESTIC

GEORGI BLIZNASHKI 'AGREED IN PRINCIPLE' TO BE IN INTERIM GOV'T

Bulgarian lecturer prof. Georgi Bliznashki said on Monday he had given his consent "in principle" to join the caretaker cabinet due to be sworn in after August 6.

Blizhashki, who teaches Constitutional Law at the Sofia University, did not conceal that President Rosen Plevneliev, who is entitled to appoint the government after Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski submitted his resignation on Wednesday last week, is considering "different options" on who will enter the cabinet.

In an interview with private channel bTV, however, he did not reveal whether he had been offered the Prime Minister's seat.

Bliznashki has been pointed by a number of media reports as a possible head of the next government, though President Plevneliev has made clear he should not be expected to announce the name of the interim PM until August 5, a day before Parliament is dissolved.

A caretaker government is to be in office until the early elections scheduled for October 5.

The professor was among a group of citizens behind a referendum petition calling for a national vote on voting rules, including on the introduction of a majority system, mandatory voting, and e-voting.

The poll was initially proposed by President Plevneliev and divided the opinion, with some claiming he was seeking to attack the ruling Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) in favor of the opposition GERB, which raised his presidential candidacy in 2011.

Bulgaria's National Assembly turned down the proposal in June. read more


GERB TO WIN MOST VOTES IN NEXT ELECTION – IMP POLL

Bulgaria’s opposition center-right GERB party would have won 27.2% of the vote if parliamentary elections were held last Friday.

The figure is well ahead of the results for the ruling Socialists, who would have gathered 13.5% of the ballots cast. read more


BULGARIAN MUNICIPALITIES SEEK URGENT REFORMS, GREATER DECENTRALIZATION

The National Association of Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria (NAMRB) has demanded  urgent reforms in municipal legislation from the next government.

Speaking in Pazardzhik, NAMRB Chair Todor Popov demanded greater decentralization and efficient local self governance. read more


BULGARIA TO SPEND BGN 53 M ON TRAFFIC MONITORING SYSTEMS

Bulgaria's Interior Ministry will spend over BGN 53 M, VAT included, on traffic surveillance.

Some BGN 39.5 M of the total will be spent on buying fixed road safety cameras and building a unified center for processing traffic violations in Sofia, according to reports of Pressa daily. read more


PERNIK – SOFIA ROAD EXPANSION PROJECT TO USE EU FUNDING

Outgoing Regional Development Minister Desislava Terzieva has said that a project for the rehabilitation and expansion of the Pernik-Sofia road through Vladaya is being designed.

Stressing that it was one of the busiest roads in the region, she made clear that it was to become a four-lane road under a project funded under the "Growth Regions" Operational Program. read more


NATIONALIST MP JOINS BULGARIA WITHOUT CENSORSHIP PARTY

Dimitar Avramov, MP from nationalist party Ataka, has announced he is joining the Bulgaria without Censorship party of former TV host Nikolay Barekov.

Avramov, as cited by Sega daily, explained his decision with the lack of alternative to the attempts to form a coalition of center-right party GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria) and liberal party Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS). read more


BULGARIA'S CARETAKER GOVERNMENT 'COULD HAVE' ELECTIONS MINISTER

The interim cabinet due to be sworn in on August 6 could include a minister in charge of the upcoming early elections in October.

Citing its own sources, the news website Mediapool.bg reveals the move is likely to be proposed by President Rosen Plevneliev.

The head of state and his administration believe such an office is needed to address the "sensitive issue" of holding elections in Bulgaria, Mediapool reports.

In 2013, the Kostinbrod affair with tens of thousands of fake ballots allegedly prepared to manipulate election results favoring conservative GERB party (which had resigned three months before the vote) opened the floodgates for a huge scandal in society, just a day before the poll was to take place.

It is the Council of Ministers administration that is entitled to organize elections, but the assignment single government minister without a portfolio to oversee the task would set a precedent.

A caretaker government is to be in office in August and September, and its main issues are to look into long-standing problems in energy and EU funding and also to prepare the parliamentary vote scheduled for October 5.

Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski submitted his cabinet's resignation on July 23 after fourteen months in office, and Parliament approved the move on the next day. read more


SOCIETY

TORRENTIAL RAINS KILL ONE NEAR BULGARIA'S GABROVO

A 61-year-old woman was killed and her 39-year-old son went missing after the torrential rains on Monday night, report the Bulgarian-language media. 

According to Gabrovo mayor Tanya Hristova, the ground floors of houses in villages in Gabrovo region were flooded. Electricity and water supply have been cut off. 

Water supply in the Gabrovo industrial zone is also disrupted.

Meanwhile, Bulgaria's Ministry of Environment and Waters warns of potential high water levels in the tributaries of the Danube and risk of local floods. read more


ROMA PROTESTERS END RAILROAD BLOCKADE IN SOFIA

A Roma protest action that halted train traffic along the railroad linking Sofia with the nearby town of Pernik on Tuesday morning has ended.

The protest was held in support of the Roma inhabitants of the Lozenets neighborhood in the town of Stara Zagora, whose houses had been demolished by the authorities earlier this month due to the lack of proper construction documents.

According to the TV7 channel, the Roma protesters that had blocked traffic by standing on the rail tracks in Sofia's neighborhood of Fakulteta had gone home after the district mayor said the municipal authorities would help them sort out problems arising from the lack of proper documentation for their dwellings.

The protesters blocked the railroad for about two hours until 11 a.m. local time, prompting the state-run Bulgarian State Railways (BDZ) company to cancel or reroute four domestic passenger trains, BDZ said in a statement.

International traffic on the railroad that also links Sofia with Bulgaria’s border with Greece was not affected. read more


NUMBER OF FOREIGNERS GRANTED BG CITIZENSHIP DROPS

There is a drop in the number of foreigners who were granted Bulgarian citizenship, said former deputy justice minister Ilia Angelov, quoted by Sega daily. 

“Bulgarian citizenship is not for sale,” he said. According to him, often people who get Bulgarian citizenship only use it to gain access to other EU countries and then renounce it. 

According to the Justice Ministry data, in 2012 were started 14 732 procedures for Bulgarian citizenship and 17 329 people became Bulgarian citizens. In 2013 the number of applications was 16 941 and only 7954 people got it. As of July 18 2014 there were 7754 applications and by end of June Bulgarian citizens became 2173 foreigners. 

According to Angelov, most applicants were from FYROM, Moldova, Ukraine and Serbia, while the number of applications from Albania and Kosovo were declining. read more


FIREFIGHTERS THREATEN TO STAGE STRIKE OVER CONTROVERSIAL REGULATION

Bulgaria's firefighters who have been protesting countrywide for a week now, threaten to go on strike due to a 'disastrous' new draft regulation.

According to European standards, a team of firefighters must have a minimum of four people. According to officials in the Interior Ministry, however, it takes only two - one driver and one firefighter. The draft regulation suggests that the team of two should perform a 'visual-verbal observation' and wait for reinforcements, which in smaller towns come from 40-50 km away, Nova TV informs. read more


VILLAGE NEAR STARA ZAGORA HOLDS SOD-TURNING EVENT FOR WASTE PLANT

A project for the construction of a regional municipal waste treatment facility near the village of Rakitnitsa, Stara Zagora district, has been launched.

However, the project will be stopped after the sod-turning ceremony until it gets its EU funding restored, according to reports of the Bulgarian National Radio. read more


DANGEROUS WWII BOMB FOUND AT BULGARIA'S BLACK SEA COAST

A bomb disposal unit in Bulgaria's Black Sea city of Bourgas has destroyed a dangerous WWII aerial bomb which was found by accident at the beach.

A diver has discovered the ammunition in the sea, at a depth of 2 meters, about 4 meters away from the rocks in Kraymorie district, Darik news reports. read more


AUGUST IN BULGARIA: RAIN IN THE WEST, SUN AT THE SEASIDE

August will be rainy in western Bulgaria and warm and sunny at the Black Sea coast, shows the monthly forecast of the Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology. 

It is expected that the average monthly temperatures in the western parts of the country to be around and below the average, while in the east – above the average. 

Throughout the first 20 days of the month the weather in the western parts of the country will be mostly unstable – with rains and thunderstorms in the afternoons, while in the east will be mostly sunny. 

Towards the end of August the weather in western Bulgaria would also improve. read more


CULTURE

GELA BAGPIPE CONTEST TO TAKE PLACE THIS WEEKEND

The traditional Rhodope bagpipe (kaba gaida) contest in Bulgaria's village of Gela will take place on August 2 and 3.

This would be the 11-th year of the festival, which takes place in the first weekend of August in celebration of St. Ilia, near the St. Ilia chapel above the village in the heart of the Rhodope mountains. 

The festival includes international bagpipe contests, which start in the morning and continue through the night, as long as there are contestants, fair, traditionally roasted lambs on a spit and folklore dances. 

The contestants can sign up in advance or at the spot and are split in three age groups – up to 14 years of age, age 15-20 and above 21. Except for the youngest, the contestants must play two tunes – a slow and a fast one.

Each year the festival attracts between 8000 and 12 000 visitors from Bulgaria and abroad. read more


ARCHAEOLOGY

BULGARIA'S ANCIENT CITY OF PERPERIKON EXCAVATIONS FUNDING TRIMMED

The archaeological excavations of the Thracian city of Perperikon, located in Bulgaria's Eastern Rhodopes will start on August 4, professor Nikolay Ovcharov announced.

Ovcharov, who heads the research team, stated that this year the State has allocated BGN 80 thousand for the excavations at Perperikon, while the needed funding amounts to BGN 200 thousand. read more


HEALTH

PARLIAMENT PASSES AT FIRST READING NZOK BUDGET UPDATE

Bulgaria's outgoing Parliament passed at first reading the update of the National Health Insurance Fund (NZOK) budget on Tuesday afternoon, reports Dnes.bg.

By a vote of 184 “for”, one abstention and null “against”, the MPs from the opposition GERB, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) decided to allocate additional BGN 200 M for funding of the state hospitals and BGN 25 M for the NZOK funded medications. read more


WITHOUT HEALTHCARE REFORM, NZOK BUDGET UPDATE IS POINTLESS - DATZOV

A potential increase in funding for the National Health Insurance Fund, NZOK, will make no sense now, according to former deputy finance minister Lyubomir Datzov.

It will be an absolute waste of taxpayers’ money to boost NZOK funding in the absence of much-needed overhaul of Bulgaria’s healthcare system, BGNES newswire quoted Datzov as saying on Tuesday as parliament prepared to discuss extending a lifeline to the state-run health insurer.

NZOK is facing a deficit of nearly BGN 330 M (EUR 165 M) that is threatening its operations in the second half of the year.

According to Datzov, who had served as deputy finance minister in two successive Bulgarian governments between 2003 and 2009, NZOK will be in the red again next year irrespective of the additional funding that parliament may decide to extend just days before its dissolution. read more


WORLD

COE: GREY ECONOMY RESULTS IN LOSSES OF EUR 40 B PER YEAR IN ROMANIA

The grey economy in Romania amounted to 28.4% of the GDP in 2013, down from the rate of 30% of GDP registered in 2011, according to the Council of Europe's anti-money laundering Committee (MONEYVAL).

According to a report of the Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures (MONEYVAL), Romania's grey economy in 2011 resulted in losses of EUR 40 B for the country, and the amount remained the same in 2013 due to the growth in the GDP rate. read more


SLOVENIA RE-LAUNCHES PRIVATIZATION OF 15 STATE-OWNED COMPANIES

Slovenia has announced it is re-launching the privatization of 15 state-owned enterprises before the new government assumes office.

The plan was temporarily frozen due to the parliamentary elections, according to reports of the BGNES news agency. read more



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