Bulgarian Taxpayers' Money 'Still Going to Energy Mafia'
The money paid in taxes by Bulgarian citizens every year is still going to the pockets of the "energy mafia" even after recent reforms in the energy sector, the leader of a employers' union believes.
In an interview with daily Standart, Kiril Domuschiev, who is Chairman of the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria (CEIBG, recently also known by its Bulgarian abbreviation KRIB) Domuschiev has commented on the decision of the national energy watchdog KEVR last week to increase a fee paid for electricity by industrial consumers and thus increase power prices for businesses.
The increase will be between 13.5% and 17.5% depending on the voltage that the respective industries use in their work.
He hinted that the move by KEVR (Commission for Energy and Water Regulation) will have devastating consequences for businesses and investment in an environment where "everything is part of certain schemes and in contravention to market principles".
"Everybody should come to terms with the fact that it is businesses that generate GDP [gross domestic product] and pay salaries: not only those of Mr Ivanov [who heads KEVR] and of MPs and all experts in KEVR, but also yours, of the journalists," he warned, adding that in Bulgaria's corruption-ridden business environment it was "normal" for the economy to be flagging.
CEIBG's head reiterated the request tabled by employers of a ban on new projects to set up renewable energy sources.
Domuschiev told Standart he was personally committed to referring in September to Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov over "abuses" in the energy sector, a promise employers' unions made at their extraordinary meeting on Sunday when they jointly voiced their outrage at the increase of power prices for businesses.
"We will demand that an investigation be launched and responsibility be sought from politicians, because how are Americans [the two thermal plants owned by US-based companies] to blame?"
A number of politicians and experts overseeing the energy sectors have argued that long-term contracts setting preferential purchase of energy produced by two US-owned thermal power plants, AES Maritza East 1 and ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3 TPP.
Domuschiev used some harsh rhetoric with regard to Ivan Ivanov, the head of KEVR whose resignation employers have demanded over the price hike.
In his words, "populism" can't be any worse than the measures Ivanov adopted last week.
He criticized Ivanov, calling him "not a good manipulator, for in order to be a good manipulator one has to prepare with arguments and facts. With him everything is wrong, not supported by figures, only [by] total fabrications."
His comments referred both to the de facto 17.5% hike for businesses and 0,11% decrease for household consumers. About the latter he said: "What Ivanov says about... reducing power prices for households - he is making fun of people. If one pays BGN 100 for electricity, they will save BGN 0,11."
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