Bulgarian Employers’ Associations, Trade Unions Protest Imminent Power Price Hike
Representatives of employers’ associations and trade unions staged protests over a forthcoming power price hike in a number of cities across Bulgaria.
The rally in Sofia, which started at the Council of Ministers building an ended in front of the National Assembly, was attended by several hundred people, according to reports of Capital daily.
Other cities where owners of businesses opposed the power price hike from August 1 included Burgas, Ruse, Dobrich, Shumen, Popovo, Razgrad, Plovdiv, and Stara Zagora, according to the Bulgarian National Radio.
The protest in Sofia was organized by the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA), the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria (CEIBG), the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA), and the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and was endorsed by the two trade unions, the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) and the Podkrepa Labor Confederation, and the Bulgarian Federation of Industrial Energy Consumers (BFIEC).
Employers’ associations insist that electricity prices should not increase until trade in electricity is governed by market principles and the Bulgarian Energy Exchange is operational.
Representatives of these associations say that power rates should not increase by the end of 2015, with energy sector reform to be implemented by that time.
Employers fear that a forthcoming increase in the “obligation to society” component of power rates will result in a 20% power price hike, causing output to become costlier, making the products uncompetitive on international markets, necessitating salary cuts and job cuts, and triggering unavoidable bankruptcies, according to investor.bg.
Representatives of the BIA, the CEIBG, the BCCI, and the BICA suggest that the government should examine their proposals for bridging the energy sector deficit instead of blocking the work of the industry through high electricity prices before the liberalization of the electricity market.
Protesters in Sofia demanded the resignation of the Chair of the Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (KEVR), Ivan Ivanov, who said on Tuesday that there was no legal option to further postpone the entry into force of the new power rates beyond August 2015.
Opponents of the forthcoming power price hike also called for an end to thefts in the energy sector and for a closure of illegal renewable energy plants.
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