Tobacco Purchasing Firms in Bulgaria to Undergo Cartel Probe
The United People's Party of Maria Cappone will ask Bulgaria's Commission for Protection of Competition to initiate a cartel probe among tobacco purchasing companies.
"This cartel must stop exerting pressure on tobacco growers immediately and the state must take steps to prevent future cartel agreements," Cappone said, as cited by the press office of the party.
She recommended a series of steps, including the introduction of a licensing regime for tobacco purchasing companies.
Cappone insisted that the licensing regime had to stipulate a clear deadline for the tobacco purchasing campaign and to provide guarantees for timely payments to tobacco growers, as well as the opportunity to use arbitration to determine the quality of the tobacco.
She also recommended the establishment of a board of experts at the Agriculture Minister, adding that the panel would bring together all interested persons and would be tasked with analyzing the market and determining a recommended price of the different types of tobacco on an annual basis.
Cappone also underscored the need to set up a Directorate at the Paying Agency of the State Fund Agriculture (SFA) which would train evaluators to conduct arbitration proceedings over tobacco quality in cases of disputes between producers and evaluators.
She underscored that the crisis in "one of the most socially sensitive sectors of our economy" was not to be exploited for political gain and that the authorities had to show decisiveness and unity.
Meanwhile, around 1000 tobacco growers from the region of Gotse Delchev staged a protest Friday afternoon, blocking the international road to Greece at the village of Gospodintsi for a few hours, according to the Bulgarian National Radio.
In the southern Bulgarian district of Gotse Delvcev, the tobacco purchasing campaign was delayed by a few months for no clear reason.
Tobacco growers are suffering losses and the quality of the production keeps deteriorating.
Tobacco growers insist that the delay is used to reduce the price of tobacco as much as possible.
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