Bulgaria Businesses to Hold Nationwide Protest over Power Prices
Bulgarian employers' organizations are calling in a new protest to vent their anger at a hike in power prices for industrial consumers.
They will also insist on the resignation of Ivan Ivanov, the head of Bulgaria's energy regulator.
Vasil Velev, who heads employer organization BICA, has told NOVA TV that up to 107 000 people migt be left jobless over the course of a year if the previous prices is not reintroduced.
The new mass demonstration, involving thousands of businesses, is due on September 30. A month earlier employers had declared they would renew their protests after the August holidays.
Bodzhidar Danev, CEO of the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA), is quoted by specialized energy website 3e-news as saying that problems in Bulgaria's energy system are putting an increasing "burden on the Bulgarian industry and the Bulgarian economy."
BIA is one of the biggest employer associations in Bulgaria, and has so far organized protest action alongside the other three prominent unions (the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association, and the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria).
This summer Bulgaria's energy regulator KEVR announced prices paid for energy by industrial consumers were to go up from August 1.
Nearly 2400 companies took part in the demonstrations caused by the decision, with businesses demanding that it be reversed.
Danev maintains the move is making Bulgaria's economy uncompetitive by harming energy-intensive industries.
On Thursday he also noted that the hike hasn't yet been applied to electricity exports, which the government said were also to be levied.
The increase of prices for industrial consumers is due to the introduction of a higher "obligation to society" fee - one that is aimed at helping the state deal with financial imbalances in the energy system.
State-owned National Electricity Company (NEK) owes billions of BGN to thermal and renewable energy producers and other companies.
Danev, however, believes businesses can work together with the government on reforming the energy sector.
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