Bulgaria Energy Minister Evasive about Decrease in Heating Tariffs
Delyan Dobrev, Minister of Economy, Energy, and Tourism, has explained that a 7.5% reduction in gas prices will not entail an equal decrease in heating rates.
Speaking Thursday in an interview for the Bulgarian National Television (BNT), he noted that heating rates depended on a number of factors besides the 7.5% gas price decrease that state-owned gas supplier Bulgargaz was expected to seek from the State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (DKEVR).
Dobrev refused to comment on a potential decrease in heating tariffs, saying that it could be interpreted as undue intervention in the work of the energy watchdog.
He went on to refute accusations of the opposition about the South Stream gas pipeline project, stressing that the Bulgarian government had achieved the best possible contract terms.
Bulgaria's Energy Minster claimed that opposition parties were using South Stream as an election platform to gain popularity.
Dobrev underscored that the issues brought up by the opposition had been clarified repeatedly and the answers were contained in a report which had been made public a few weeks ago.
On Wednesday, the opposition right-wing Blue Coalition claimed that the center-right GERB government had betrayed Bulgarian interest by signing the South Stream contract because the pipeline would bring no benefits for the country.
The right-wing MPs claimed that Bulgaria would receive no transit fees until the investment in the construction of the gas pipeline was repaid.
The Blue Coalition also argued that the investment had been "unacceptably inflated" from EUR 1.1 B to EUR 3.3 B by Russia without an environmental impact assessment and a final engineering design.
Right-wing MP Ivano Ivanov declared in Parliament that the Blue Coalition would seek a meeting with the EU Energy Commissioner over the South Stream project.
Ivanov made clear that the meeting was aimed at acquainting the European Commission with violations of EU law and calling for their removal.
In his Thursday statement, Dobrev claimed that 80% of the claims voiced by the Blue Coalition were untrue, the only correct statement being the fact that they had requested a meeting with the EU Energy Commissioner.
Dobrev said that he had met with six EU Energy Ministers and the EU Energy Commissioner on October 26 and had received their unanimous support for the South Stream project.
Bulgaria's Energy Minister went on to highlight that the South Stream gas pipeline project was in line with EU law.
He assured that South Stream raised no concerns about the environment, unlike the Burgas-Alexandroupolis oil pipeline project.
Dobrev concluded by saying that Bulgaria opposed the proposal listed in an EC report for a partial reduction or removal of VAT in the energy sector.
"We are against differentiated VAT rates," he noted, adding that the desired effect had to be achieved by other means such as investments in energy efficiency in energy production and transmission.
Bulgaria's Energy Minster recommended boosting the efficiency of power generation plants and seeking alternatives for the other types of fuels.
Dobrev suggested that the EU had to rethink its philosophy on fuel excise duty because it obstructed and harmed the competitiveness of the entire EU.
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