Bulgaria Businesses to Stage Protest over Power Price Hike
Business unions in Bulgaria say more than 1000 companies are to protest in 28 cities across the country against a planned hike of power prices.
Electricity bills for industrial consumers are set to go up by 13-20% from August 1, after a long dispute between the national energy regulator and businesses.
Trade unions are also demanding that plans to increase electricity bills from next month be abandoned.
This is the second time in just over a month that business unions are staging a protest. On June 26, more than 1000 Bulgarian companies took part in joint actions by halting work or switching to reduced capacity for an hour to voice their disagreement with the hike, which was then postponed for a month.
On Tuesday, however, energy watchdog KEVR's head Ivan Ivanov warned the decision to raise power prices could not be put off further.
In the capital Sofia, protesters are to rally in the downtown area from the Council of Ministers building to the Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (KEVR).
The demonstration will bring together representatives of a number of sectors of the Bulgarian economy - from engineering and the food industry to tourism.
As with the previous protest, the government of PM Boyko Borisov says there should be no price hikes for industrial consumers. Borisov pointed to a package of reforms adopted earlier in June that would help the state-run National Electricity Company (NEK) rein in its fiscal imbalances.
KEVR, on the other hand, maintains the increase is inevitable if NEK is to tackle its BGN 3 B deficit generated over the past few years.
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