The Bulgarian Parliament approved on first reading amendments to the Labor Code, which improved the regulatory framework regarding remote work
Bulgarian Parliament Votes to Exempt Bulgartransgaz from Gazprom Fees
The National Assembly has enacted changes exempting "Bulgartransgaz" from collecting a new fee imposed on "Gazprom" for gas transit through the Turkish Stream pipeline. The decision, backed by several parties, including WCC-DB, GERB, and DPS, was passed in two readings. Notably, members from "There Is Such a People" also voted in favor, while "Vazrazhdane" opposed, and BSP abstained. Critics from various parliamentary groups, except WCC-DB, highlighted the need to rescue "Bulgartransgaz" from a staggering daily payment of BGN 6 million owed to Gazprom, emphasizing that the gas transmission operator faced bankruptcy if unable to collect these dues.
Following these amendments, the revenue agency, through the Customs Agency, is set to handle the fee collection. The levy, effective since October 13, triggered concerns over "Bulgartransgaz's" financial stability, with President Rumen Radev contesting it and the Prime Minister refuting these claims. Finance Minister Asen Vassilev expressed surprise at President Radev's stance, implying protection of Russian and Gazprom interests by the President.
The proposed changes were embedded in the Control Law on Implementing Restrictive Measures due to Russia's actions in Ukraine, tabled by WCC-DB's Radoslav Rybarski, Vasil Stefanov, and Ivaylo Mirchev. Opposition members criticized the ruling majority's legislation, citing the burden of over 200 million BGN imposed on "Bulgartransgaz." Some speculated, including Zhecho Stankov from GERB, that this financial pressure aimed at privatizing the company. Meanwhile, concerns were raised about the practical execution of Gazprom fees, echoing Stanislav Anastasov from DPS and Ramadan Atalay's insistence for the government to refrain from intervening in the energy sector.
The expected budget revenues of BGN 2.4 billion for 2024 faced skepticism, particularly from GERB representatives, who deemed them unattainable. Zhecho Stankov reiterated former finance minister Vladislav Goranov's views, warning of potential budget deficits exceeding the 3% eurozone entry limit.
Serbia and Hungary, reliant on gas imports through the Turkish Stream pipeline, have been impacted by this tax, prompting Hungary to file a complaint with the European Commission. Gazprom, holding a substantial gas pipeline capacity until the decade's end, has yet to comment on the unfolding situation.
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