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• (NW) Sofia Is Reconsidering The Way It Develops
June 2 (BTA) - Sofia is reconsidering the way it develops. Proposals are put down in a 30-year strategy entitled Vision for Sofia, prepared by a multidisciplinary team after tens of studies, analyses and discussions held over two years with the participation of over 10,000 experts. At a news conference in Sofia where Vision for Sofia was presented, Sofia Mayor Yordanka said that she is moving the strategy to the Municipal Council on Wednesday. The Vision says that in 2050 Sofia will be "compact, diverse and adaptable; a city which manages its resources wisely and includes its citizens in decision-making, creates and maintains diverse development opportunities and quality of life". Fandakova explained that the Vision will be adopted in two stages. The first is the long-term part with its five priorities - compact city, adaptable city, diverse city, wise attraction of resources; and citizens inclusion - which have been supported by all participants during the discussions. The second part, which is to be submitted to the Municipal Council on Wednesday, is the short-term part with measures until 2025. "These are the things we have to be working on until the end of this [mayoral] term," said Fandakova. The Vision provides for the preparation of a new master plan for Sofia. Fandakova hopes that the terms of reference for the master plan will be ready before the end of 2020. Sofia Chief Architect Zdravko Zdravkov said that the ultimate goal of the Vision is to improve the quality of life in this city. "In the recent years, Sofia went through a transformation from an industrial city into a city for cars, and we have to make it a city for people. We have to do this through a series of steps to make people get off of their cars, reconsider the use of industrial spaces and develop sustainable development models and green spaces," Zdravkov said. He urged Sofianites to support the Vision and thus step up the preparation of a different master plan for Sofia. LN/ /??/
• (DF) Revolutionary Hristo Botev, Fallen for Bulgaria's Freedom and Independence Remembered on June 2
June 2 (BTA) - On June 2, Bulgaria honours Bulgarian revolutionary Hristo Botev, his group of volunteers, and the fallen for Bulgaria's freedom and independence. Observances are held throughout the day and sirens are sounded at noon across the country to signal 2 minutes of silence honouring the heroes. The date marks the anniversary of Botev's heroic death after a battle with regular Ottoman troops and irregular bashi-bazouk bands at the foot of Okolchitsa Peak (Western Balkan Range) on May 20, 1876. Botev (1848-1876), a poet, journalist and freedom fighter, led a detachment of armed volunteers from Romania into Bulgaria after the April Uprising against Ottoman rule broke out in 1876. June 2 was first marked as a Day of Botev in Vratsa (Northwestern Bulgaria) and Plovdiv (South Central Bulgaria) in 1884. The official commemoration at Okolchitsa Peak dates from 1901, when it was attended by several members of his detachment. When the Julian Calendar was adopted in Bulgaria in 1916, the observance was moved to June 2 (exactly a year after the previous celebration) even though Botev death anniversary falls on June 1, because 1900 was a leap year in the Julian Calendar and a non-leap year in the Gregorian Calendar. Despite several changes in the manner of marking and official designation, the date has always been highly emotional for Bulgarians. At the roll call, the names of the prominent people who laid their lives for this country's freedom and independence are called out, after which "the thousands of known and unknown heroes" are also remembered. The idea is that the fallen are forever on the roll of the Bulgarian Armed Forces. "It is up to our will whether we will be waiving high the flag of Bulgarian freedom, or we will be paying homage to it only in the museums. Whether dignity will overcome apathy or we will seek solace only in the feats of the heroes in history text books," President Rumen Radev said in his speech delivered in the central town of Kalofer on the occasion of the observance of Botev and Bulgaria's fallen sons. The ceremony in Kalofer was attended by Vice President Iliana Iotova, who said that in the coming days the Ukrainian village of Zadunaivka will host an exhibition about the famous Bulgarian revolutionary and poet's life and work. The house where Hristo Botev lived while teaching in that village has been turned into a museum with the help of the Bulgarian State. Prime Minister Boyko Borissov also paid respects to those who fell for Bulgaria's freedom and independence. In his Facebook profile, the Prime Minister wrote that peace, human rights and understanding are upheld through actions on a daily basis. "Let's be proud of our forefathers and follow the European path they laid out for us!". Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov and Chief of Defence Admiral Emil Eftimov laid wreaths in front of the monument to Shoumen's (Northeast Bulgaria) fallen in the wars. "On this day, June 2, Botev and his volunteers' self-sacrifice are the symbol, but we are honouring all those Bulgarians who have given their lives for Bulgaria's liberation," Karakachanov said, stressing the importance of knowing history and being Bulgarians, above all. Botev's Day was also marked in Moldova on the Bulgarian Embassy's initiative. Flowers and wreaths were laid in front of the Bulgarian revolutionary's monument in the capital of Chisinau during a ceremony attended by Bulgarian Ambassador in Moldova Evgueni Stoytchev, diplomats from the Embassy, representatives of the Bulgarian community in Moldova, teachers from the Vasil Levski Bulgarian Lyceum and historians, among others. NV/MY /??/
• (DF) Former PFC Forward Nasko Sirakov Acquires PFC Levski
June 2 (BTA) - Former PFC Levski and Bulgarian national team forward Nasko Sirakov announced Tuesday that he is now the owner of the club. Sirakov published a statement in the club site, levski.bg, confirming that he has received 86.6 per cent of the shares in PFC Levski, previously owned by Vassil Bojkov and Georgi Popov. "As of this morning, June 2, which is the day on which we commemorate Hristo Botev and those who have died for Bulgaria's freedom, I am the owner of 86.6 per cent of PFC Levski's shares," Sirakov wrote. He expressed gratitude to Georgi Popov and Vassil Bojkov for what they have done for the beloved club so far and that they have fulfilled their promise not to obstruct it. Because he needs time to acquaint himself with the situation in the club, Sirakov asks everyone to be patient until next Wednesday, June 10, when he will give his first news conference. PFC Levski's difficult situation arose after 11 charges were brought against the actual owner of the club, businessman Vassil Bojkov. After Bojkov fled Bulgaria and went into hiding in the UAE, he announced that he could no longer finance the club. On May 16, Georgi Popov, a businessman close to Bojkov and de facto owner of Levski's shares, endorsed them to Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, but the latter refused to accept them. Bojkov then conducted a survey on his Facebook page to allow Levski's fans to determine who should receive the shares. Sirakov was the one to garner the most votes./NV/BR /??/
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, June 2 (BTA)
• (DF) Nineteen New COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Bulgaria
June 2 (BTA) - Nineteen new COVID-19 cases were confirmed through 1,220 PCR tests in Bulgaria over the last 24 hours, the national coronavirus task force told a news briefing on Tuesday morning. The total has thus reached 2,538. The active cases are 1,271.
• (NW) Regulator Lowers Natural Gas Price by 9% in June
Sofia, June 1 (BTA) - In June, the price of natural gas will be set at 20.33 lv/MWh (exclusive of access and transmission fees, excise and VAT tax) which is lower by 9 per cent (2.02 lv/MW/h) from May, said Energy and Water Regulatory Commission Chair Ivan Ivanov on Monday. He...
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, June 1 (BTA)
• (DF) PM Borissov Confers with Serbian President Vucic
June 1 (BTA) - Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic Monday arrived on a one-day visit here at the invitation of Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, the Bulgarian Government Information Service said. Borissov welcomed the guest at Sofia Airport, where the two conferred before leaving on a joint inspection by helicopter of the progress of construction of the Evropa Motorway and the Balkan Stream gas pipeline. "The construction of the Evropa Motorway is important not only for our two countries but is also key to the goods traffic between Europe and Asia," Borissov said. He noted the progress made on the 17 km motorway section between Dragoman and Slivnitsa. "We are working hard, and I expect 17 km of the motorway between Sofia and the Serbian border to be ready by the end of the year." Thirty kilometres of the 48 km Evropa Motorway, which links the Kalotina Border Checkpoint with Sofia's Ring Road as part of Pan-European Transport Corridor X (Salzburg-Belgrade-Nis-Sofia-Plovdiv-Istanbul), are now under construction. The PM also familiarized Vucic with the progress of the Balkan Stream project. The gas pipeline will cross eleven administrative regions in Bulgaria. "The project is exceedingly important for the energy security of the entire Balkan region," Borissov pointed out. The 474 km long Bulgarian branch of the TurkStream natural-gas pipeline runs from this country's border with Turkey to the border with Serbia. It will be complete with two compressor stations, at Rasovo and Nova Provadia. Pipes have been laid along 271 km of the route, and 151 km of them have been welded. A total of 324 km of pipes have been transported to temporary construction sites, and another 133 km have arrived at the Port of Bourgas. After the inspection of the two construction projects, the Bulgarian Prime Minister and the Serbian President will continue their discussion of topics of mutual interest over a working lunch in Veliko Turnovo (North Central Bulgaria). RI/LG /??/
• (DF) Just 6 New COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Bulgaria
June 1 (BTA) - Just six new COVID-19 cases have been confirmed in Bulgaria over the last 24 hours, Dr Angel Kunchev, told a regular news briefing here on Monday morning. The total has thus reached 2,519, of which 1,289 are active cases. Three of the newly infected patients have been hospitalized. None of the new cases is a child or a medical worker. A total of 1,090 COVID-19 patients have recovered. Not a single new coronavirus fatality is reported, and the death toll thus remains 140. RI/LG /??/
• (DF) Tobacco Kills Over 11,000 Bulgarians in Six Months, Study Shows
May 31 (BTA) - Between November 1, 2019 and May 1, 2020, tobacco smoking caused the death of 11,048 people in Bulgaria, while COVID-19 killed 68 persons, shows a study by the BlueLink foundation presented at a BTA-hosted news conference on the occasion of May 31, World No Tobacco Day. The comparative study also includes the latest data on tobacco smoking from the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission, and the National Centre of Public Health and Analyses.
• (NW) Under 10% of Hotels, Restaurants in Bansko Are Open, No Bookings Made, Local Businesses Say
Blagoevgrad, Western Bulgaria, May 31 (BTA) - Under 10 per cent of hotels and restaurants in the Bansko mountain resort are open, and no bookings have been made at this stage, Malin Bistrin, head of the Union of the Tourist Industry in Bansko and Deputy Chairman of the Bulgari...
• (DF) 14 New COVID-19 Cases Bring Total to 2,513 on Sunday
May 31 (BTA) - Fourteen new COVID-19 cases were registered in Bulgaria in the last 24 hours from a total of 606 tested individuals, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,513, said national coronavirus task force secretary Dimo Dimov at a briefing here on Sunday morning.
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, May 31 (BTA)
• (DF) Deputy Environment Minister and Nine Others Charged with Illegal Waste Imports
May 30 (BTA) - Deputy Environment and Water Minister Krassimir Zhivkov and nine other persons have been charged with illegal actions related to waste imports and management. Seven of them are accused of participating in an organized crime group which includes public officers. The other three will be held liable for tax offences, the Prosecutor General's Spokesperson Siika Mileva said at a news briefing here on Saturday.
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, May 30 (BTA)
• (NW) Gambling Commission Conducted 3,137 Checks, Imposed Lv 1.4 Mln in Sanctions, 2015-2019 - Finance Minister
Sofia, May 29 (BTA) - Between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2019, the State Commission on Gambling (SCG) conducted 3,137 checks, drew up 350 penalty decrees and imposed pecuniary sanctions totalling 1,411,000 leva, Bulgarian Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said, addressi...
• (DF) Bulgaria's Grain Balance Will Be Secured - Minister
May 29 (BTA) - On the eve of the harvest campaign Bulgaria is expected to have a good one, to the tune of 5 million tonnes, calculations of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry calculations say. This will allow the country to meet domestic consumption and preserve its status as an exporter, Minister Dessislava Taneva told a news briefing Friday after a meeting of the Grain Consultative Council. Regardless of the problems established with the harvest due to the drought, mainly in Northeastern and Eastern Bulgaria, a good harvest is expected again. The most pessimistic forecast of the European Commission, above the realistic of 5 million tonnes, is 5.8 million tonnes, Taneva said. There are no indications for rising price levels on the futures market and that means that Bulgaria will definitely preserve the status of a large net grain exporter and a price hike of flour for domestic consumption is not expected. The Chairman of the Consultative Council, Ventsislav Vurbanov, said that the main conclusion of the forum was that, in spite of local problems, there is no threat for the grain balance. These problems are mainly in the regions of Varna, Dobrich, Shabla, Kavarna and part of Silistra region. Sofia Commodity Exchange expects a good harvest. This will lead to increased stock and no shocks on the markets are expected. The Chairman of the National Grain Producer Association, Kostadin Kostadinov, said that members think the condition of wheat is relatively good. The harvest expected, in his opinion, will be some 4.2-4.3 million tonnes of wheat, or about 30 per cent less compared to 2018. Mariana Koukousheva, member of the Board of the Federation of Bakers and Confectioners in Bulgaria, also confirmed that the bread balance of Bulgaria is guaranteed and bread prices will not rise. RY/BR /??/
• (DF) Gambling Commission Conducted 3,137 Checks, Imposed Lv 1.4 Mln in Sanctions, 2015-2019 - Finance Minister
May 29 (BTA) - Between January 1, 2015 and December 31, 2019, the State Commission on Gambling (SCG) conducted 3,137 checks, drew up 350 penalty decrees and imposed pecuniary sanctions totalling 1,411,000 leva, Bulgarian Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said, addressing Parliament on Friday.
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, May 29 (BTA)
• (DF) Supreme Court Refuses to Reopen Case of Palfreeman's Early Release
, May 28 (BTA) - Bulgaria's Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC) has decided to take no action on a motion by former prosecutor general Sotir Tsatsarov to order the Sofia Appellate Court (SAC) to reopen a case in which Australian national Jock Palfreeman was granted a conditional early release, the SCC said in a press release on Thursday. The SCC took seven months to rule on Tsatsarov's motion. Its ruling is unappealable. On September 19, 2019, a three-judge panel of the SAC granted a conditional early release to the 32-year-old man nearly seven years before the end of a 20-year prison sentence he received in 2009 for fatally stabbing a Bulgarian student and the attempted murder of another young man in Sofia in December 2007. The prosecution service asked the SCC to review the early release decision arguing that two of the judges on the three-member court panel were in conflict of interest. On September 20, Palfreeman was transferred from Sofia Central Prison to the Interior Ministry Special Centre for Temporary Accommodation of Foreigners in Busmantsi (near Sofia) because his identity documents had expired and he was treated as an undocumented alien. The Australian was released from the Busmantsi Centre on October 15, 2019 but remains barred from leaving the country. RI/LG /??/
• (NW) General Government's Gross External Debt Decreases in End of March
May 28 (BTA) - Bulgaria's gross external debt totalled 33,495.1 million euro (51 per cent of the projected GDP) as at end-March 2020, the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) said. It decreased by 576.2 million euro (1.7 per cent) from the end of 2019 and by 738.3 million euro (2.2 per cent) from March 2019. Long-term liabilities totalled 25,705.1 million euro (76.7 per cent of the total debt, 39.3 per cent of the GDP)) as at end-March 2020, decreasing by 197 million euro, or 0.8 per cent, from March 2019. The gross external debt of the General Government Sector totalled 5,375.5 million euro (8.3 per cent of GDP) as at end-March 2020. It decreased by 52 million euro, or 1 per cent, from end-2019 and by 62.1 million euro (1.1 per cent) from March 2019. The external debt of the Banks Sector totalled 4,326.8 million euro (6.7 per cent of GDP). It dropped by 574.6 million euro (11.7 per cent) from end-2019, and by 291.1 million euro (6.3 per cent) from March 2019. Gross external debt service totalled 1,088.1 million euro (1.7 per cent of GDP) in January-March 2020, compared with 1,472.1 million euro (2.4 per cent of GDP) in January-March 2019. RY/ZH /??/
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, May 28 (BTA)
• (DF) Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria Increase by 17 to 2,477
May 28 (BTA) - The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria is 2,477, the national coronavirus task force said at its news briefing on Thursday morning. The latest confirmed cases are 17. The fatalities are 134, one recent. A total of 965 patients have recovered. Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kounchev said that talks are underway with the government to lift the requirement for a 14-day quarantine for Bulgarian and foreign nationals entering this country. Kounchev said that the restrictions are eased but face masks in indoor public spaces will remain for a long time still. National coronavirus task force head Gen. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski said that although clinical trials of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 have been halted due to the many side effects, the drug continues to be applied, to certain patients who do not have counter indications. Moutafchiiski said that specialists from the Military Medical Academy have visited the San Mateo hospital in Italy. The two hospitals are to sign an agreement on exchange of technologies and ideas, Moutafchiiski said. RY/ZH /??/
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, May 27 (BTA)
• (DF) 2,460 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 27 (BTA) - The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria is 2,460, the national coronavirus task force said at its news briefing on Wednesday morning. The latest confirmed cases are 17. The fatalities are 133, three recent. A total of 912 patients have recovered. Of the confirmed cases, 217 people are in hospital, 22 in intensive care. RI/ZH /??/
• (DF) Health Minister Issues Order Repealing Some Restrictive Measures Imposed Due to COVID-19
May 27 (BTA) - Health Minister Kiril Ananiev issued an order revoking some of the restrictive measures introduced due to COVID-19, said the press service of the Ministry of Health on Tuesday evening. As of Tuesday, cultural and entertainment events are allowed (theatres, concerts, stage events, dance classes, creative and musical arts, as well as entertainment activities for legal entities and individuals, etc.) with seats up to 30 per cent of their total capacity indoors and up to 50 per cent of their total capacity outdoors and at maximum capacity for no more than 20 people for group activities and no more than 1 person per 4 square meters. As of June 1, indoor visits to restaurants, fast food restaurants, drinking establishments, coffee shops, indoor children's and sports facilities, entertainment establishments and playrooms, including those in shopping malls are permitted with the exception of discos, piano bars and night bars. Also from June 1, all education activities such as study halls, clubs, children's centres, etc, are allowed to resume their activities. DT// /DT/
• (NW) Bulgaria Has 617 Villages with Fewer than 10 or No Residents
May 26 (BTA) - Bulgaria has 617 villages without population or with residents in the single digits, BTA found from the National Register of Populated Places of the National Statistical Institute. The data reflect the picture as at December 31, 2019.
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, May 26 (BTA)
• (DF) Ten New COVID-19 Cases in Past 24 Hours
May 26 (BTA) - There are ten new confirmed coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, Chief Health Inspector Angel Kunchev told a briefing on Tuesday morning. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 infections is 2,443. At 253, there are no new cases among medical staff.
• (DF) Defence Minister: Coronavirus Economic Crisis Will Not Affect Budget for Armed Forces' Modernization
May 25 (BTA) - Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov said the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus would not affect the budget for the armed forces' modernization. He was talking about the purchase of two multi-role patrol ships for the Navy, the upgrade of T-72 tanks and the planned repairs of some of the missile systems.
• (PE) Press - Review
Sofia, May 25 (BTA)
• (DF) 2,433 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 25 (BTA) - The number of COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria reached 2,433 after six new infections were confirmed in 443 tests over the last 24 hours, the national coronavirus task force said on Monday morning. Twenty-two patients recovered, making Sunday the seventh day in a row when recoveries outnumbered the new cases. No one died of COVID-19.
• (DF) Bulgarian Marks May 24 as Day of Culture, Education, Slav Letters
May 24 (BTA) - Bulgarians mark May 24 as the Day of Bulgarian Education and Culture and of Slav Letters. This year, the traditional processions and celebrations were cancelled because of the COVID-19 restrictions.
• (DF) 2,427 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 24 (BTA) - The number of COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria reached 2,427 after 19 new infections were confirmed over the last 24 hours, Prof. Todor Kantardjiev, Director of the National Centre of Infectious and Parasitic Diseases, told a regular news briefing here on Sunday morning.
• (DF) Bulgarian Sunday School in Istanbul Joins Online Celebration of May 24, Day of Bulgarian Culture and Education
May 23 (BTA exclusive by Nahide Deniz) - The Bulgarian Sunday school in Istanbul named after brothers Sts Cyril and Methodius who created the Slavonic alphabet, celebrates a double holiday on May 24, which is marked in Bulgaria as the feast day of the Sts Cyril and Methodius and as the day of Bulgarian culture and education.
• (DF) 2,408 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 23 (BTA) - The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria is 2,408, the national coronavirus task force said at its news briefing on Saturday morning. The latest confirmed cases are 36. The fatalities are 126, one recent. A total of 808 patients have recovered, of whom 39 recent cases. The tendency for more recovered than detected cases in one day continues steadily.
• (NW) Deputy PM Donchev, AmCham Webinar Discuss Bulgaria's Strategy for Exiting COVID-19 Crisis
Sofia, May 22 (BTA) - The American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria (AmCham) and Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev had a webinar Friday to discuss Bulgaria's strategy for exiting the COVID-19 crisis, AmCham reported here on Friday. The event, open only to AmCham membe...
• (DF) Parliament Reduces VAT for Restaurants, Books from 20% to 9%
May 22 (BTA) - On Friday Parliament discussed on first reading six bills to amend the Value Added Tax (VAT) Act, all related to a reduction of the tax for various goods and services.
• (NW) Cinema Visits Down in 2019 Y/Y
May 22 (BTA) - As of December 31 2019, 160 museums registered under the Cultural Heritage Act operated in the country. Divided by thematic scope, there were 83 general museums and 77 specialized museums (including art galleries), the National Statistical Institute said on Friday. In 2019, the National Museum Stock had 7,529,000 stock units of movable cultural values and in comparison with 2018 their number increased by 110,000 (1.5 per cent). Of these, 390,000 stock units were digitized, up by 22,000 in comparison with the previous year. In 2019, visits to museums totalled 5,355,000, an increase by 5.3 per cent from 2018. Approximately one fifth of all visits (1,027,000) were carried out on free entry days. The number of visits of foreigners to museums decreased by 20,000 or 1.6 per cent in comparison with the previous year. In 2019, museum personnel numbered 3,406 employees and in comparison with 2018 increased by 3.3 per cent. In 2019, 1,577 computers were used for administrative purposes, 686 computers - for database storage and 277 computers - for provision of information to visitors. In 2019, the operating 74 theatres organized 15,955 performances, visited by 2,516,000 visitors and in comparison with 2018 the number of performances and the number of visits increased by 5.3 per cent. The average number of visitors per one performance was 158 and remained unchanged compared with 2018. In 2019, 52 music formations operated in the country - 5 philharmonic orchestras, 25 professional ensembles for folk songs and dances and 22 orchestras. In comparison with 2018 the number of their performances increased by 7 per cent while the number of visits decreased by 10.6 per cent. In 2019, there were 47 libraries with library collection over 200,000 units and their number remained the same compared to the previous year. The collection contained 34,555,000 library units - books, continued editions, newspapers, magazines, bulletins and others. The registered readers (library users) were 243,000, which is 1.9 per cent more in comparison with the previous year while the visitors to libraries increased by 4.1 per cent and reached 4,751,000. The total library loan collection was 6,542,000 library units. In 2019, a total of 104 full-length, short and medium-length films were produced, of which 51 for cinema and 41 for television. Of these, 90.4 per cent were shot digitally.There were 37 full-length films produced (22 feature films and 15 documentaries). Their number increased by 7 (23.3 per cent) in comparison to the previous year. The number of the produced short and medium-length films was 67 of which 21 feature films (including 7 series with total of 200 episodes.), 33 documentaries and educational films and 10 animations. At the end of 2019, there were 74 cinemas with 237 screens, an increase respectively by 5 and 11 in comparison with 2018. There were 11 multiplex cinemas which accounted for 56.1 per cent of screenings and 62.3 per cent of cinema visits. In 2019 in comparison with the previous year, screenings in cinemas decreased by 9 per cent and visits by 6.2 per cent. In 2019, 82 registered and licensed radio operators operated in the country, which broadcasted 721,400 hours of radio broadcasts, or 0.8 per cent (5,600 hours) less in comparison with 2018. The biggest share of broadcasts was of music programmes - 54.7 per cent, followed by news (bulletins, commentaries, sporting news and forecasts) with 11.6 per cent. In 2019, 128 registered and licensed Bulgarian TV operators operated in the country, up by 12 from the previous year. RI/PP /??/
• (DF) 2,372 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 22 (BTA) - The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria is 2,372 the national coronavirus task force said at its news briefing on Friday morning. The latest confirmed cases are 41. The fatalities are 125, five recent. A total of 769 patients have recovered, 42 recent. The number of medical staff with coronavirus infection are 249. Todor Kandardjiev of the task force said that the steady increase of the number of tested people does not lead to spikes in newly detected cases. RY/ZH /??/
• (DF) Ban on Entry in Bulgaria of Certain Nationals of EU, Schengen Agreement Countries Lifted
May 22 (BTA) - The ban on entry in Bulgaria of certain nationals of EU member states and of Schengent Agreement countries (including San Marino, Andorra, Monaco and the Vatican) has been lifted as of May 22, the Health Ministry said in a press release. The ban is lifted for the following categories of people: medical specialists, medical researchers, employees involved in the delivery of medicines, transport personnel involved in international carriage of passengers and goods, foreign officials, people travelling for humanitarian purposes, representatives of trade, economic and investment businesses, seasonal farm workers and hospitality workers, border staff. The 14-day quarantine upon entering Bulgaria is lifted in respect of several categories of Bulgarian and EU nationals, including people travelling for humanitarian purposes and representatives of trade, economic and investment businesses. The 14-day quarantine upon entering Bulgaria is lifted in respect of the following categories of people, irrespective of their nationality: medical specialists, employees involved in the delivery of medicines, foreign officials, border staff, drivers of buses performing international carriage of passengers, and drivers of trucks performing or ending international carriage of goods. The 14-day quarantine upon entering Bulgaria is lifted in respect of members of the families of Bulgarian nationals, and in respect of people who are in cohabitation with a Bulgarian nationals where the duration of their stay in Bulgaria is up to seven days. All other persons entering Bulgaria are subject to a 14-day quarantine in the home or place of accommodation indicated by the person. The full text of the order of the Health Minister in the Bulgarian language can be accessed on the website of the Health Ministry. RY/ZH /??/
• (NW) Investment Fund Assets Drop by 9.3% Over First Quarter
May 21 (BTA) - At the end of March 2020, the assets managed by domestic and foreign investment funds operating in Bulgaria amount to 3,919.9 million leva, the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB) informed on Thursday. Year on year, the size of these assets has dropped by 232.3 million leva (5.6 per cent), and by 401.8 million (9.3 per cent) compared to December of 2019. As part of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the total asset size of domestic and foreign investment funds as of March 2020 amounts to 3.1 per cent of GDP, down from 3.5 per cent in March 2019 and 3.6 per cent at the end of 2019. At the end of the first quarter of 2020, the assets of domestic investment funds amount to 1,602.2 million leva which is a year-on-year increase by 40.8 million (2.6 per cent). Compared to December 2019, the assets have decreased by 109 million leva (6.4 per cent). RI/MT /??/
• (DF) Diana Kovacheva Elected National Ombudsman
May 21 (BTA) - Bulgaria's 240-seat Parliament Thursday elected Diana Kovacheva as National Ombudsman for a five-year term by a vote of 173 in favour, with three abstentions. Kovacheva was nominated by GERB. Presenting the nomination, Krassimir Velchev, Chair of the Religious Affairs Committee, said Kovacheva had a long-standing experience in human rights protection and had served as deputy ombudsman. She is backed by many NGOs. Vassil Antonov (BSP for Bulgaria) said the Left backed the nominee. Kovacheva thanked the MPs for placing their trust in her, saying she was honoured to be the fourth Ombudsman. "Being familiar with the job, I can say it is not an easy one, but defending citizens' rights is worth every effort," she said. Her ambition is to turn the institution "from being people's last hope to their first choice when their rights are violated". She remains committed to open dialogue and transparent work. Kovacheva served as deputy ombudsman between 2016 and September 2019, when the then ombudsman Maya Manolova resigned to run for Sofia mayor, a position she failed to win. Kovacheva was justice minister between 2011 and 2013 and a long-serving executive director of Transparency International Bulgaria. She holds a master's degree in EU law from Sofia University, a master's degree in EU law and legal system from Nancy 2 University of France and an LLD in international law and international relations. In 2014, she was awarded the Order of the British Empire for her tireless efforts in the fight against corruption and her endeavours towards a transparent and effective judiciary. Kovacheva speaks English, French and Russian. RI/DD /??/
• (DF) Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria Reach 2,331
May 21 (BTA) - There are 39 new confirmed COVID-19 cases out of 1,912 tested patients, and 15 of them are hospitalized, said head of the national coronavirus task force Prof. Moutafchiiski at a briefing in the Council of Ministers on Thursday morning. The total number of confirmed cases in Bulgaria reached 2,331. Two of the newly confirmed cases are children, and another two are medics, bringing the number of infected hospital staff to 248. Four people died over the last 24 hours, for a total death toll of 120. A total of 287 people are in hospitals, 31 are in intensive units. This is the third day when the number of recovered patients (43) exceeds the newly confirmed cases. Director of the Sofia Regional Health Inspectorate Doncho Penchev said that checks are still being carried out in malls. According to him, the air conditioning systems in malls are very modern, and there is no cause for concern regarding their proper functioning at this stage. The microclimate in malls is also being checked, and so far a few recommendations have been made, but no one has been fined. RI/MT /??/
• (DF) Bulgarian Citizens Can Now Travel from Bulgaria through Romania without Special Permission
May 20 (BTA) - Romania is now allowing free land transit for Bulgarian citizens traveling from Bulgaria without requiring an individual diplomatic permit, the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs informed its Bulgarian counterpart ministry on Wednesday. For Bulgarian citizens traveling in transit through Romania in the direction of Bulgaria, the current regime of free transit without a diplomatic permit remains. When transiting by land through Romania, Bulgarian citizens need to comply with the established green corridors. RI/DT /DT/
• (DF) Indoor Team Sports Activities Allowed from Friday
May 20 (BTA) - Indoor team sports activities will be allowed from May 22 behind closed door under an order of Health Minister Kiril Ananiev, the government information service said Wednesday. From May 26, individual and team sports activities for children under the age of 18 will be allowed both indoor and outdoor. Competitions continue to be barred. Swimming pools are also allowed to open. Under the order first aid courses for new drivers and courses for lifeguards can take place. RI/PP /??/
• (DF) European Commission Presented New Economic Recommendations for Bulgaria
May 20 (BTA correspondent Nikolay Jeliazkov) - The European Commission presented on Wednesday its recommendations to the EU member states regarding their economic recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Bulgaria received four recommendations for this year and next, as follows: Take all necessary measures to effectively address the pandemic, sustain the economy and support the ensuing recovery. When economic conditions allow, pursue fiscal policies aimed at achieving prudent medium-term fiscal positions and ensuring debt sustainability, while enhancing investment. Mobilise adequate financial resources to strengthen the resilience, accessibility and capacity of the health system, and ensure a balanced geographical distribution of health workers. Ensure adequate social protection and essential services for all and strengthen active labour market policies. Improve access to distance working and promote digital skills and equal access to education. Address the shortcomings in the adequacy of the minimum income scheme. Streamline and accelerate the procedures to provide effective support to small and medium-sized enterprises and self-employed, also ensuring their continued access to finance and flexible payment arrangements. Front-load mature public investment projects and promote private investment to foster the economic recovery. Focus investment on the green and digital transition, in particular on clean and efficient production and use of energy and resources, environmental infrastructure and sustainable transport, contributing to a progressive decarbonisation of the economy, including in the coal regions. Minimise administrative burden to companies by improving the effectiveness of public administration and reinforcing digital government. Ensure an effective functioning of the insolvency framework. Step up the efforts to ensure adequate risk assessment, mitigation, effective supervision and enforcement of the anti-money laundering framework. NV/MT /??/
• (DF) 2,292 Cases of COVID-19 Confirmed in Bulgaria
May 20 (BTA) - Thirty-three new cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in Bulgaria on Tuesday, bringing the total number of confirmed cases to 2,292, the national coronavirus task force said on Wednesday morning. Those infected include one child and two health workers.
• (DF) Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece Agree on Travel Without Quarantine
May 19 (BTA) - Travel between Bulgaria and Greece will be without quarantine as of June 1. The decision was made at a video conference of the leaders of Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Romania, and was announced Tuesday by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. He said that the quarantine requirement for travel between Bulgaria and Serbia will also be scrapped as of June 1 but travellers will have to fill out bilateral declarations stating that they have no COVID-19 symptoms, are not quarantined in their own country, agree to travel at their own risk and leave a phone number for contact. Borissov said that he hopes the Romanian Parliament will make a similar decision. The quadrilateral video conference was held on Borissov's initiative and included also Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic, Prime Ministers Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece and Ludovic Orban of Romania. They discussed measures for easing travel and restoring tourist exchange without increasing the health risk for people. The ministers of foreign and internal affairs, tourism, health care and transport also participated in the discussion. The leaders of the four countries will meet in person in the Bulgarian Black Sea city of Varna on June 1, said Borissov. As he made public the decisions made at the meeting, Borissov said that Bulgaria has handled well the pandemic and is now among the first to ease the restrictions. "It is important to learn to observe the hygiene measures and to learn to live with the coronavirus and with a calculated risk, so that more systems resume operation and there is more money for people and the public purse," said the Bulgarian government leader. Measures to be eased with Austria and Germany as well Taking a reporter's question, Borissov said that talks are underway towards relaxing the measures with Germany and Austria. He said that their chambers of commerce are very active. Also, they have many factories in Bulgaria, which have ordered machines and they need engineers to come to assemble these machines, Borissov added.
• (NW) Bulgarian Development Bank, UniCredit BulBank Sign Agreement on Provision of Interest-free Loans to Individuals Experiencing Financial Hardships due to COVID-19
Sofia, May 19 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB) and UniCredit BulBank signed an agreement on a guarantee programme for the provision of interest-free loans to individuals on unpaid leave and to self-employed persons, BDB said in a press release Tuesday. Applicatio...
• (DF) Not A Single Water Supply Company Meets All Quality Requirements in 2019 - Regulator
May 19 (BTA) - The Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (EWRC) approved a report on a extraordinary probe into the water supply and sewerage (WSS) sector, commissioned by the Supreme Administrative Prosecutor's Office, following media publications about the poor state of the water supply and sewerage network in Bulgaria, EWRC representatives said here on Tuesday. The report analyses and summarizes information about all the 53 WSS companies in this country (including 29 WSS companies with limited areas of operation that had approved business plans at the time of the check.) According to the data, in 2019, not a single WSS company with an approved business plan met all the quality requirements, set in the plan. Out of 29 companies with approved business plans, five failed to meet more than 50% of the quality requirements, and eleven met 50 to 60 per cent of them. The remaining 13 WSS companies have yet to meet 7 to 11 levels of quality requirements, EWRC informed. Regarding water supply services, the check found that 79 per cent of the WSS companies with approved business plans did not supply the necessary pressure in their networks, and were not efficient in updating water meters. Fifty-nine per cent of the WSS companies did not meet the requirements regarding the efficiency of the water meter network, and 72 per cent did not meet the energy efficiency criteria for water supply. According to the report, 55 per cent of the WSS companies in Bulgaria failed to achieve their goals regarding the rehabilitation of the water and sewerage network. Forty-eight per cent of the companies failed to maintain their networks in satisfactory condition, and 41 per cent did not meet the requirements for an uninterrupted water supply. Thus, the report concludes that nearly two-thirds of Bulgaria's WSS companies with approved business plans in 2019 failed to meet the requirements, established to reduce the water losses from WSS networks in Bulgaria. NV/MT
• (DF) Kindergartens and Nurseries to Open on May 22
May 19 (BTA) - Kindergartens and nurseries will open on Friday, Health Minister Kiril Ananiev told a briefing at the Council of Ministers. On Tuesday, Minister Ananiev issued an order according to which, kindergartens and nurseries can open on May 22 in strict compliance with anti-epidemic measures and ensuring a safe environment for children. It is envisaged that the Ministry of Education and Science and the Ministry of Health will approve measures for organizing the establishments' activities. There is also a text assigning mayors to create conditions for opening kindergartens and nurseries depending on the specifics of the municipality. "There will be significant medical control. Each child's temperature will be measured before they enter,'' assured Minister Ananiev. Parents will have to sign a declaration of informed consent and shared responsibility declaring that they are aware of all measures in the kindergarten and that the child enters the establishment at their request. Physical distance between staff and parents will be required to prevent any infection, Ananiev explained. Children will not be admitted if they have any health issues. Nearly a thousand people from the staff of kindergartens and nurseries will be tested for COVID-19, on a sample basis in order to follow the trend of coronavirus incidence, said Ananiev. In case of possible infection, only the affected group will be quarantined if the building of the kindergarten or nursery allows it, said at the briefing Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kounchev. If the building is small, children will not be allowed back for a 14-day period. ''We are not worried so much about the children, as about the staff and the possibility that the children spread the infection in their homes,'' Kounchev added. Municipalities must decide between May 22 and June 1 when they will open kindergartens and nurseries. ''We expect most of the kindergartens to open next week,'' said at the briefing Education Minister Krassimir Valchev. ''It is very important to appeal to parents that if they can, they should keep their children at home,'' Valchev urged. Kindergarten attendance will not be mandatory and will not be linked to family and child benefits, the Education Minister explained. RY/DT /??/
• (NW) Bulgarian Development Bank, UniCredit BulBank Sign Agreement on Provision of Interest-free Loans to Individuals Experiencing Financial Hardships due to COVID-19
May 19 (BTA) - The Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB) and UniCredit BulBank signed an agreement on a guarantee programme for the provision of interest-free loans to individuals on unpaid leave and to self-employed persons, BDB said in a press release Tuesday. Applications for loans under the programme start to be accepted on May 19. Two other banks, Allianz Bank and D Commerce Bank, too accept applications for interest-free loans as of May 17. A total of 6,719 applications have been made so far for loans under the programme. Two-thirds of them are from persons with employment contracts, and one-third, from self-employed people. The total amount of the approved loans is 10,989,500 leva. The average amount of a single loan is 4,200 leva, while the maximum amount has been set at 4,500 leva. The eligible applicants are employees on unpaid leave and self-employed people who cannot work due to COVID-19 restructions. The interest-free loans are disbursed in a lump sum or in three instalments. The term for repayment is five years, with a grace period from six to 24 months. No fees or indemnities are charged. RI/ZH /??/
• (DF) 2,259 Cases of COVID-19 Confirmed in Bulgaria
May 19 (BTA) - Twenty-four new cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in Bulgaria over the last 24 hours, bringing the total number of cases confirmed in the country so far to 2,259, Chief State Health Inspector Angel Kounchev told journalists on Tuesday morning. Two more people have died from the disease. Ten of the new patients have been hospitalized. A total of 646 patients have recovered since the infection first hit Bulgaria. The number of health workers infected with the disease has reached 242. Kounchev said that the relatively small number of COVID-19 patients who need to stay in hospital makes it more sensible to designate seven or eight hospitals in Sofia to provide such treatment, leaving the other hospitals to take care of patients who have other health problems. Most COVID-19 patients will receive treatment at the Military Medical Academy, the Pirogov Emergency Hospital, City Hospital No. 2, the Alexandrovska Hospital and the St Anna Hospital. RY/VE /??/
• (DF) Government Makes Public Details on Future State-owned Fuel Company with Fuel Storage Facilities and Filling Stations
May 18 (BTA) - The government made public Monday details of its plans to set up a state-owned company with a chain of fuel storage facilities and 10 to 100 filling stations across the country. Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov and Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov held a news briefing on the matter after an extraordinary government meeting considered a bill of amendments to the State Reserve and Wartime Stocks Act.
• (NW) National Statistical Institute Reports 0.6% Deflation for April 2020
May 18 (BTA) - The inflation rate in April 2020 compared to March 2020 stands at -0.6 per cent, the National Statistical Institute said on Monday. The inflation rate since the start of the year (April 2020 compared to December 2019) is -0.3 per cent, and the annual inflation (April 2019 - April 2020) is 1.8 per cent. The average annual inflation rate for the period May 2019 - April 2020 year- on-year is 3.0 per cent. RI/ZH /??/
• (DF) 2,235 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 18 (BTA) - The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria is 2,235, the national coronavirus task force said at its news briefing on Monday morning. The latest confirmed cases are 24. The fatalities are 110. A total of 612 patients have recovered. The number of medical staff with coronavirus infection are 242, or 11 per cent from all cases. The relatively low number of new cases is attributed to the lower number of tests that were processed, 362, which is four and a half times lower than the customary number because of the weekend. The European bureau of the World Health Organization has warned about new outbreaks and spikes in Europe. The Bulgarian task force is monitoring the situation in the country and on the Balkans. Bulgaria has more than 25 laboratories performing COVID-19 diagnostics but they may be overloaded, given the imminent start of the summer tourist season. RI/ZH /??/
• (NW) Press - Review
Sofia, May 18 (BTA) - POLITICS Standart quotes Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov as telling Nova TV in an interview that Bulgaria's hospitals were prepared in advance for the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that thanks to the proper measures t...
• (DF) 2,211 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Bulgaria
May 17 (BTA) - The confirmed cases of coronavirus in Bulgaria are 2211, summed up at a briefing on Sunday morning Prof. Todor Kantardzhiev, Director of the National Centre for Infectious and Parasitic Diseases and a member of the National Coronavirus Taskforce. There are 36 new cases registered in the past day. A total of 240 medical staff members are infected. Nearly 600 people have been cured. There have been three deaths in the past 24 hours, thus making the total death toll 108 . "With the flu, one person infects at most two others. With COVID-19, one patient infects up to three people. When this reproductive number falls below 1, the epidemic is considered to be under control. In the past few weeks the number in Bulgaria has been close to 1, while in the first weeks of it was 1.7," explained Kantardzhiev and pointed out that just a little more societal effort is needed so that ''we can see the light in the tunnel of this epidemic". He added that in the Gabrovo villages of Kramolin, Lovni dol and Sabotkovtsi, an outbreak of Q fever has been discovered. The disease has developed among veterinarians and staff at three animal farms. RY/DT /DT/
• (DF) 2,174 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 16 (BTA) - Confirmed coronavirus cases in Bulgaria have reached 2,174, Prof. Todor Kantardzhiev of the national coronavirus task force told a briefing on Saturday morning. There are 37 new cases. Of these ten patients have been hospitalized. Three patients with underlying medical conditions died in the past 24 hours. Some 233 medics have been infected and 573 patients have recovered. RY/PP //
• (NW) Employment Agency Reports Nearly 9% Unemployment in April
May 15 (BTA) - The level of registered unemployment in the country in April was 8.9 per cent, according to the administrative statistics of the Employment Agency released here on Friday.
• (DF) Finance Ministry Says Minister Goranov Already Expressed His Position about Alleged Communication with Vassil Bojkov and Won't Be Issuing Another One
May 15 (BTA) - In view of the increased media interest, provoked by insinuations circulated by notorious businessman Vassil Bojkov on Friday, the Finance Ministry recalls that Minister Vladislav Goranov has already commented and expressed his position in Parliament last Friday, May 8, regarding Bojkov's statements, reads a press release by the Finance Ministry. It was issued on the occasion of two screenshots of text messages with a contact bearing the Minister's name, posted Friday morning by Bojkov, who is hiding in Dubai. The messages in question discuss the State Commission on Gambling, which was supposed to control Bojkov's lottery business. His conversation with "Vladi Goranov", however, shows that the businessman was able to complain to the Finance Minister about certain official's actions and seek assistance, the Mediapool e-zine writes Friday. According to Socialist MP Rumen Gechev, there is no doubt that there was communication between Bojkov and Goranov. If the the State's information that hundreds of millions of leva of budget revenue were lost is true, then there must have been a political protection for Bojkov, Gechev commented the leaked text messages in Parliamment. Later, the Finance Ministry said that Goranov will not be making any additional comments in response to statements made by someone who owes the Exchequer 700 million leva. Once considered to be the wealthiest Bulgarian with assets worth between 1.5 and 3 billion leva, businessman Vassil Bojkov was charged in Bulgaria on January 29, 2020 with evasion of more than 700 million leva in gambling licensing fees, money laundering, extortion, bribery, murder, rape, leading an organized crime group since 2014, trading in influence, and unlawful possession of cultural assets. He left the country before the full-scale crackdown against him and turned into a fugitive from justice, refusing to return to Bulgaria from the United Arab Emirates where, following three weeks in prison after being arrested on an Interpol Red Notice on Bulgaria's request, he has been a free man with resident status. Bojkov gave a telephone interview for bTV on May 8, urging Vladislav Goranov to resign as Finance Minister because he either connived or ignored legislative amendments initiated by GERB thus enabling Bojkov's scratch-card lotteries to pay lower licensing fees than the State-owned Bulgarian Sports Totalizator. Bojkov said that his assets had been wrongfully frozen by the National Revenue Agency (NRA) and accused Prime Minister Boyko Borissov in person of ruining his companies. The interviewee argued that the PM used the prosecution service, the State Agency for National Security and the NRA as "baseball bats" to force him out of business. Bojkov said in his interview last week that he had frequent personal contacts about his gambling operations with Goranov, who was thus aware of the way his accountants applied the law. The businessman denied having had any contacts with Gambling Commission members. Reacting to the interview, Goranov told a news briefing at Parliament later that day that ever since he entered the gambling business, Bojkov or his employees violated the Gambling Act by misdeclaring and underpaying fees. The Finance Minister said he does not believe that he can be blamed for Bojkov's employees misapplying the Gambling Act. He said that he did meet with the businessman but refused to grant his request to equalize taxation of offline and online gambling. RI/MY /??/
• (DF) President Radev: Most Important Resource in Coping with Any Crisis Is Trust in Institutions That Manage It
May 15 (BTA) - Speaking during an expert discussion on the social and economic dimensions of the COVID-19 crisis in light of Europe's and Bulgaria's experience held here on Friday under his auspices, President Rumen Radev said that the most important resource in coping with any crisis is the trust in the institutions that manage it. Radev said that a government enjoys trust when it passes decisions in the interest of the people by itself, and not under public pressure or on advice of PR experts. Furthermore, there is trust when resources are spent transparently and are reported to the public. The President went on to say that the absence of adequate measures creates an even greater problem than restarting suspended productions and services, namely, exacerbation of poverty and inequality, "in respect of which this country is the European champion anyway". Radev warned that if this tendency is not contained, Bulgaria risks experiencing deep public disparities, degradation and growing crime. RY/ZH /??/
• (DF) 2,138 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 15 (BTA) - Confirmed coronavirus cases have reached 2,138, Prof. Dimo Dimov of the national coronavirus task force told a briefing on Friday. There are 102 COVID-19 fatalities, and 545 patients have recovered. In the past 24 hours there were 38 new cases and three patients died. They all had underlying medical conditions. Two new cases have brought the number of infected medics up to 230, said Dimov. RY/PP /??/
• (DF) EC's Infringement Proceedings against Bulgaria on Free Movement of Goods, Environmental Matters, Transport
May 14 (BTA) - In its latest package of infringement decisions published on Thursday, the European Commission (EC) urges Bulgaria to ensure the proper application of EU law in several areas, including free movement of goods, environmental matters and transport. At the same time, the EC has decided to close the infringement proceedings against Bulgaria concerning the assignment of digital terrestrial television (DTT) frequencies. Free movement of goods and freedom of establishment The EC has decided to send a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria regarding discriminatory measures imposed on retailers, obliging them to favour domestic food products. Bulgarian law obliges retailers to offer distinct exposure and sale space for domestic food products, such as milk, fish, fresh meat and eggs, honey, fruits and vegetables, and to purchase 90 per cent of milk and dairy products from domestic producers. Such obligations restrict the free movement of goods, enshrined in Article 34 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (TFEU), as it creates more advantageous and competitive marketing conditions for domestic food products, discriminating against similar imported products. It further restricts the freedom of establishment under Article 49 of the TFEU, in restricting the freedom of retailers to decide on their assortment, on the lay out of their sales surface, and to adapt their supply chain. According to the Commission, such restrictions may only be justified by overriding reasons of general interest, such as public health, and must be suitable and necessary for attaining that objective. Due to the extraordinary circumstances due to the coronavirus sanitary situation and the weakening of EU economies, it is imperative to preserve the free movement of goods and the freedom of establishment. Bulgaria has one month to reply to the concerns raised by the European Commission. Without a satisfactory response, the EC may decide to send to Bulgaria a reasoned opinion. Access to justice in environmental matters The EC calls on Bulgaria and one more Member State to remove barriers to access to justice for citizens and environmental organisations in relation to air quality plans. Neither of the two countries has ensured that natural or legal persons directly concerned by exceedances of the air pollution limits under Directive 2008/50/EC on ambient air quality and cleaner air for Europe, are allowed to bring an action before the national courts. Environmental organisations and natural or legal persons in these two Member States are currently not allowed to challenge the consistency of an air quality plan and to require public authorities to establish air quality plans as the Directive requires. Urban Waste Water The European Commission is urging Bulgaria and three more Member States to ensure that urban waste water is adequately collected and treated, as required by Directive 91/271/EEC. The Directive protects both water quality and human health by requiring that Member States collect and treat their urban waste water before it is discharged into the environment. For agglomerations of 2,000 people or more, the treatment requires not only elimination of solid matter but also the breaking down of the organic substances by using bacteria. Bulgaria fails to provide a collecting system in 48 big agglomerations, in 69 big agglomerations it fails to ensure that the urban waste water entering collecting systems is subject to appropriate treatment, and in 71 big agglomerations Bulgaria does not ensure that the urban waste water entering collecting systems and discharging into sensitive areas is subject to more stringent treatment. All these agglomerations should have been compliant by December 31, 2010, the EC recalls. Road transport The Commission has sent letters of formal notice to Bulgaria, nine more Member States and the United Kingdom for having applied incorrectly rules on road safety related traffic information. Access to road safety related traffic data is key to improving safety on European roads and providing information services to road users. This legislation requires Member States to make such data available for exchange and reuse through single, national access points. Intelligent transport The EC has sent letters of formal notice to Bulgaria, six more Member States and the United Kingdom as they have applied EU rules on the provision of EU wide real-time traffic information services incorrectly. Real-time traffic information services help reduce congestion, air pollution and noise stemming from transport. It is also key to producing up-to-date and accurate digital maps, which are crucial for smart mobility applications. The European Commission also has sent letters of formal notice to Bulgaria and nine more Member States for having applied EU rules on the provision of EU-wide multimodal travel information services incorrectly. Travellers in Europe often lack door-to-door travel information. This is why Member States are required to establish national access points that make multimodal travel information accessible. Ultimately, multimodal travel information services will help provide travellers with an overview of all travel options available to them, while highlighting the most sustainable ones. Road transport The EC has decided to send letters of formal notice to Bulgaria, six more Member States and the United Kingdom for failing to communicate information on safe and secure parking. More specifically, these Member States failed to make digitally available, through National Access Points, information related to parking places (e.g. location of parking areas and available facilities and amenities) as well as to parking places providing dynamic information. Truck drivers in Europe are often confronted with insufficient parking facilities and information on such facilities, and therefore often park in non-secured zones or unsafe locations. Single European Sky The European Commission has decided to send a letter of formal notice to Bulgaria and ten more Member States for failing to provide and operate data link services for all operators of aircraft flying within airspace under their responsibility, and which are capable of data link communications. Data link services are communications between aircraft and ground that are conveyed through data links, complementing the voice communications used traditionally within air traffic control. The deployment of this interoperable technology in Europe is essential to improving the efficiency of communications between pilots and controllers, thereby increasing air traffic control capacity. The deadline for providers of air traffic services to provide and operate data link services expired on February 5, 2018. A lack of equipment in certain control centres is effectively preventing aircraft operators from using data link services, for which the operators have been required to equip as of February 5, 2020, the Commission notes. Civil aviation The EC has decided to send letters of formal notice to Bulgaria and nine more Member States as they have failed to designate a 'just culture body' in accordance with Regulation (EU) No 376/2014. The European Commission invites the Member States to comply fully with the relevant EU rules. The countries concerned now have four months to reply to the letter of formal notice; In the absence of a satisfactory response, the EC may decide to send a reasoned opinion. Should they fail to take appropriate action, the Commission may decide to refer them to the Court of Justice of the European Union. Assignment of DTT frequencies The European Commission has decided to close the infringement proceedings against Bulgaria and Italy concerning the assignment of DTT frequencies as they have taken steps to address the Commission's concerns regarding their compliance with the Competition Directive (2002/77/EC), Authorisation Directive (2002/20/EC) and Framework Directive (2002/21/EC). In 2013, the EC referred Bulgaria to the EU's Court of Justice. In 2015, the Court confirmed the Commission's findings. Both Italy and Bulgaria took steps to address the Commission's concerns, including an amendment to the legislation at issue and the withdrawal of one of the disputed licenses in Bulgaria. Moreover, significant changes can be expected in the DTT sector in the context of the ongoing 'reforming' process whereby Member States need to move DTT frequencies from the 700 MHz frequency band, which will be used for mobile communications. Following a careful examination of the facts of the cases as well as relevant market, regulatory and judicial developments, the EC found that it is no longer opportune to continue the proceedings. The European Commission continues monitoring the broadcasting markets across Europe, with a view to ensuring a level playing field. The closure of these cases does not prevent the EC from opening new infringement proceedings. RI/DS /??/
• (DF) May 15 Is Bulgaria's Tax Freedom Day in 2020
May 14 (BTA) - May 15 is Tax Freedom Day in Bulgaria, the day on which people have theoretically settled their tax bills and can stop working for the government and start working for themselves, the Institute for Market Economics (IME) said Thursday. This is also the day on which the Exchequer would have been filled if everything produced by people was immediately paid to the government. The consolidated revenues officially set in the budget are 46.8 billion leva, which means that this year Bulgarians will work 136 days for the Exchequer, the IME experts say. According to the European Commission's latest forecast, the Bulgarian economy will shrink by 7.2 per cent in 2020. The impact on the economy and the increase in budget spending mean a record-setting redistribution through the public sector: consolidated expenditures are expected to reach 42 per cent of GDP. For many years, that redistribution was around 40 per cent of GDP, which proved to be a healthy ceiling for state expenditures and kept a rein on the fiscal policy, the IME experts note. According to them, the State's stronger role could be explained with the state of emergency in Bulgaria, but it is very dangerous to tax payers. The COVID-19 crisis should not give reason to push back the private sector and increase the State's role in the economy. On the contrary, now is the time to give more freedom to entrepreneurs, who can take the economy out of the difficult situation, the experts argue. Even before the appearance of COVID-19, the Bulgarian tax payer was gradually being burdened further by the State. For example, in 2017 and 2018 pension contributions were increased, and in 2019 the maximum insurance threshold was raised. This year began with an increase in local taxes and fees throughout the country. During the state of emergency from March 13 to May 13, certain steps to ease tax payments were taken - for example a discount on local taxes - but that has not changed the situation significantly, the IME experts say. The last days have seen talks about real measures to reduce taxes: introduction of differentiated VAT rates for restaurants and books. However, tax freedom gains the most from horizontal measures that are open to everyone, and not just to separate businesses or individuals. A much better option would be not to differentiate VAT rates but, for example, to increase the threshold for VAT registration. That would give a breath of fresh air to all small companies and would not discriminate certain sectors, the IME economists argue. Regardless of the measures, insecurity will continue to play a lead role until the end of 2020. A possible second wave of COVID-19 would seriously change the economic forecasts and signfiicantly increase the budget deficit. The redistribution through the budget also depends on the normalization or complication of the epidemiological situation. However, Tax Freedom Day is a reminder that both in good and bad years, all public policies depend on tax payers' work, the IME said.
• (DF) President Radev Refers Certain Health Act Revisions to Constitutional Court
May 14 (BTA) - President Rumen Radev has referred to the Constitutional Court certain texts of the amended Health Act concerning the coronavirus situation which he argues go against the Constitution, Radev's press secretariat said on Thursday. On Wednesday Radev decreed the promulgation of the amendments, with the arguments that the social and economic support for citizens and businesses affected by the crisis should not be interrupted.
• (DF) Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria Reach 2,100
May 14 (BTA) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases reached 2,100 people, said head of the national coronavirus task force Prof. Moutafchiiski on Thursday. Over the last 24 hours, there were 31 new cases in Bulgaria. A total of 351 patients are hospitalized, 51 of them are in intensive care units.
• (DF) Embattled Owners of FC Levski Offer Club's Shares to PM, Offer Is Declined
May 13 (BTA) - The embattled owners of FC Levski offered the club's shares to Prime Minister Boyko Borissov on Wednesday but the offer was declined. The shares were broght by renowned journalist Sasho Dikov to the government HQ where he was met by Sport Minister Krassen Kralev and the head of the government press office, Sevdalina Arnaoudova, to tell him that he should find somebody else to give the shares to. FC Levski has been in dire financial straits since its patron and former majority owner, Vassil Bojkov, was charged in January 2020 with evasion of more than 700 million leva in gambling licensing fees, money laundering, extortion, bribery, murder, rape, leading an organized crime group since 2014, trading in influence, and unlawful possession of cultural assets. Once considered to be the wealthiest person in Bulgaria with assets worth between 1.5 and 3 billion leva, Bojkov lost this gambling business after the legislature banned privately operated lottery companies, and turned ino a fugitive from justice, refusing to return to Bulgaria from the United Arab Emirates where, after three weeks in prison after being arrested on an Interpol Red Notice on Bulgaria's request, he has been a free man with resident status. Last week basketball coach and die-hard Levski fan Konstantin Papazov said that Bojkov was going to mail him the Levski shares and make him the club's owner. On Tuesday, Bozhkov and his partner Georgi Popov, who is the present Levski majority shareholder and is also in the UAE fleeing Bulgarian justice, said that they were going to endorse the Levski shares to "the person who is responsible for the demise of the club, Boyko Borissov". Bojkov's Nove Holding has blamed Levski's situatuion on "the deliberate and unlawful destruction of the companies which provided its financing", by the government of Boyko Borissov. In a bTV interview by phone earlier in May, Bojkov argued that the PM used the prosecution service, the State Agency for National Security and the National Revenue Agency as "baseball bats" to force him out of business. Journalist Sasho Dikov said that Bojkov asked him to take the shares to Borissov in a phone call. He tried to contact the government spokesperson but as she did not answer his calls, he decided to personally go to the Prime Minister's office. Spokesperson Arnaoudova said that the whole situation with Dikov bringing the shares is humiliating and insulting. The Sport Minister added that the Prime Minister cannot be the owner of Levski or any other football club. He suggested that the right thing to do is assign them to the club's fans. "They showed that they have clout and are not going to allow the club to fail," said Kralev. He also said that once the fans enter in possession of the shares, the government will seek ways to help the club. The Club Z e-zine reported that after Borissov refused to accept the shares and after a text message from Bojkov, Dikov took the shares to Levski's Gerena Stadium but what decision will be made there remains to be seen. LN/RI
• (DF) PM Allows 12-Graders to Meet in School for Traditional Send-Off
May 13 (BTA) - Prime Minister Boyko Borissov has allowed 12-graders to meet in their schools for a traditional send-off and has asked the Ministries of Education and Health to prepare a health protocol to make sure it does not create a COVID risk. This transpired from a press release of the government press office after the Prime Minister met with a committee of 12-graders. Schools have been closed since March as part of the general coronavirus lockdown and are not going to reopen until September, except for the exams for 7-graders and 12-graders. Last-year students are not going to have prom and were not supposed to have the traditional send-off in which they meet one last time in the school yard. Disappointed 12-graders wrote to the Prime Minister to change that and told him their wish is "to meet in their school, count to 12 - the number of years they spent in school - and send off with respect the past years". They also wrote that they accept the situation as mature and responsible people, and understand that they will have their prom "when the situation allows". Having met with two of the letter's authors on Wednesday, the Prime Minister instructed the Ministers of Health and of Education to prepare a health protocol the soonest possible to make this send-off possible. The head of the national coronavirus task force and the Finance Minister also attended the meeting, said the government press office. LN/RI/ /??/
• (NW) EBRD Projects 4% Economic Growth in Bulgaria Next Year after 5% Drop in 2020
?ay 13 (BTA) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) projects that Bulgaria's economy will contract by 5 per cent this year due to the coronavirus pancemic's impact and will rebound with 4 per cent in 2021, shows the Bank's latest Regional Economic Prospects report, published on Wednesday. The report's part about Bulgaria says that in 2019 this country recorded a solid growth of 3.4 per cent, driven mainly by private consumption, fuelled by increased earnings and a higher employment rate amid the tightening labour market, with an unemployment rate of around 4 per cent. In 2020, however, economic output is expected to decline by 5.0 per cent, mainly due to a sharp decrease in economic activity in March and during the second quarter due to the domestic containment measures pursued by the authorities to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Bulgaria declared a state of emergency on 13 March, imposing tough restrictions on travel and economic activity including closing schools, restaurants, bars and non-essential shops. A significant drop in consumption of services and durable goods is expected, affecting SMEs in particular. Demand-side effects are likely to be large, given that retail trade and other directly affected services account for almost 25 per cent of GDP. Other key transmission channels include a slowdown in exports of goods, given the lower demand globally, and postponed investments amid increased uncertainty and bearish market sentiment. In addition, the country's tourism sector will be strongly hit (tourist spending accounts for about 10 per cent of GDP). The mitigating factor will come from the increased government spending in the form of a fiscal crisis response package of about 3 per cent of GDP announced so far. The budget, redrafted in light of the new circumstances, envisions a deficit of 2.9 per cent of GDP, compared to a previously planned balanced budget. After four consecutive years of budget surpluses, and with public debt at 21 per cent of GDP, Bulgaria is among the least indebted countries in the EU. Also, the Bulgarian National Bank has reacted promptly providing liquidity to the banking sector. The country's entry to the ERM2 is now scheduled for July 2020, although a further delay could not be ruled out. Under the baseline scenario, a recovery is expected in 2021, with GDP growth of 4.0 per cent. The projections for the region of Southeast Europe (Bulgaria, Greece, Cyprus and Romania) is for a drop in GDP of 4.8 per cent in 2020 followed by a 4.6 per cent growth in 2021. Economies across the regions of the EBRD may contract on average by 3.5 per cent this year, because of the impact of the coronavirus, with a rebound of 4.8 per cent possible in 2021. However, in its latest Regional Economic Prospects report, the EBRD warned that these projections are subject to "unprecedented uncertainty". /??/
• (DF) 65 New Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 13 (BTA) - There are 65 new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria over the last 24 hours. Of them, 25 people were hospitalized. The information was released on Wednesday morning at the Council of Ministers by national coronavirus task force secretary Assoc. Prof. Dimo Dimov. Among the newly confirmed cases are 9 children and 7 medical staff. Twenty-three more people have recovered. The total number of laboratory-confirmed coronavirus cases in Bulgaria is 2,069. There are 96 casualties. A total of 365 COVID-19 patients are hospitalized, 51 of them are in intensive care units. Dimov also said that in Bulgaria the disease continues to spread in clusters with easily traceable contacts which makes possible identifying and isolating them, be it in hospitals or at their homes. RI/MT /??/
• (DF) Health Act Amendments Pass on Second Reading
May 12 (BTA) - The fines for violating anti-epidemic measures and for non-compliance with the quarantine remain unchanged even after the end of the state of emergency on May 13. This was decided when Parliament adopted amendments to the Health Act on second reading Tuesday.
• (DF) PM Borissov Promises 11% VAT Reduction for Restaurants
May 12 (BTA) - Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and representatives of restaurant, catering and entertainment establishment businesses agreed here on Tuesday that the VAT will be reduced from the standard 20 to 9 per cent for catering and entertainment establishments registered under the Tourism Act. The lower VAT is expected to become effective immediately and remain until the end of 2021. The agreement came on the second day of meetings between the two sides and was first made public by the government press office and then by the Prime Minister himself, who held a special news briefing together with the power-sharing United Patriots. The catering and restaurant sector was represented at the meeting by officials of the Association of Catering Establishments in Bulgaria and the Bulgarian Hotel and Restaurant Association. Bulgaria has a flat VAT of 20 per cent, however some tourist services have enjoyed a lower VAT of 9 per cent for years, more specifically package tours. Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov has been consistently opposed to having a differentiated VAT, for foods, restaurants, or anything for that matter. The Prime Minister said that there is a political risk in the decision but it was made to support the restaurant businesses as they struggle with the losses caused by the pandemic. "It is a measure that could produce good results in the long run. Everything is in our hands," the Prime Minister said, adding that this change should bring to light the entire restaurant sector. Borissov also said that his own GERB party are against a lower VAT, including the Finance Minister and the chair of the parliamentary budget committee, Menda Stoyanova, and have figured out that the 9 per cent VAT will open up a 150 million leva gap in the budget. The lower VAT, however, is a political decision that has been made by the GERB parliamentary group, said the Prime Minister. The VAT revenue will be monitored closely and analyzed on a monthly basis and the lower rate could remain forever if it indeed brings to light the entire restaurant business sector and does not cause VAT proceeds to drop significantly. Borissov said that the tourist sector now has a chance that a 9 per cent VAT can generate more revenues than a 20 per cent VAT. The proposal for a lower VAT will be submitted to Parliament on May 13 by the MPs of GERB and the United Patriots. Borissov said his party will also propose a lower VAT for books and cultural activities. He added that GERB have long been considering this and intend to make it permanent. He also commented that he can't wait to see if the 11 per cent decrease in VAT will cause prices to come down by as much. And child commodities as well Shortly after the Prime Minister's news briefing, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) held their own briefing to declare their support for the 9 per cent VAT for restaurants. They said all commodities for children aged 0-3, including food and clothing, should be included in the lower VAT package and promised to table the respective proposal to the legislature. They argued that it is a way to address the demographic crisis in Bulgaria. MRF's Yordan Tsonev said they were happy to see, a year later, the power-holders support their call for a 9 per cent VAT for books. New cash registers next year The Prime Minister and the catering businesses also agreed to postpone by a year, as of March 2021, the entry into effect of a government ordinance that requires of all businesses to deploy a new system for reporting their turnover and purchase new cash registers. The government has been trying to push through this ordinance for two years now but it is strongly opposed by businesses and even triggered street protests last year. The changes agreed at Tuesday's meeting with the Prime Minister will be submitted to the Legislature to be turned into law by MPs of the ruling GERB party, said the government press office. LN/RY /??/
• (NW) Bulgaria's Electricity Production Down 10.69 Per Cent in January-May 2020, Year on Year
May 12 (BTA) - Between January 1 and May 10, 2020, Bulgaria produced 15,517,362 MWh of electricity, down by 10.69 per cent from the 17,373,838 MWh produced in the like period of 2019, the Electricity System Operator (ESO) reported on its website. Year on year, domestic electricity consumption decreased by 2.78 per cent in the January 1 - May 10 period, from 15,028,819 MWh in 2019 to 14,611,320 MWh in 2020. Bulgaria exported 2,672,894 MWh of electricity between January 1 and May 10, 2020, which was 23.18 per cent less than the 3,479,498 MWh sold abroad in the comparable period of 2019. To make up for this, electricity imports into this country increased by 55.74 per cent for the same period, year on year, from 1,134,478 MWh in 2019 to 1,766,852 MWh in 2020. By May 3, electricity imports rose 62.23 per cent, while exports declined by 22.43 per cent, but since than exports have edged up and imports have edged down. The baseline generating capacities, such as the Kozloduy N-Plant and the two US-owned coal-fired power plants in the Maritsa Basin: AES Galabovo and ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3, produced 13.29 per cent less electricity between January 1 and May 10, 2020 compared to the same period of last year. The share of electricity from renewable sources increased by 18.90 per cent in the transmission network and by 13.43 per cent in the distribution network. RY/LG /??/
• (DF) 2,004Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 12 (BTA) - The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria has reached 2,004, the task force said on Tuesday morning. The new cases in the past 24 hours are 23, of whom 13 were hospitalized. There are 368 patients in hospital, including 50 in intensive care. Fifteen patients recovered in the last 24 hours. The total death toll is 93, with no new fatalities. The average age of those who died from COVID-19 is 66.7 years. RY/DD /??/
• (DF) Energy Regulator Approves Natural Gas Price Reduction of Over 34% for August, September 2019
May 11 (BTA) - The Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (EWRC) announced here on Monday that it has confirmed changes in the price of natural gas for the months of August and September 2019. The natural gas price for the period of August 5 - 31 is 34.79 per cent lower compared to the previous price set by the regulator for that period, while for the month of September the reduction is 34.32 per cent. EWRC held a meeting behind closed doors on May 8, during which it adopted decisions in connection to Bulgargaz's submitted requests to confirm the prices for the two periods, at which the company can sell natural gas to end suppliers and customers connected to the gas transmission network. The goal was to calculate the sums which Bulgargaz, being the public supplier, and the end suppliers have to reimburse to their clients, after it signed in March 2020 an annex to its agreement with Gazprom reducing the price of natural gas by over 40 per cent as of August 5, 2019. Reimbursements will be made to end suppliers and clients, who are connected to the gas transmission network, including persons who have been issued licensure for the production and transmission of heat energy. The confirmed price by EWRC is 29.28 lv/MWh (excluding access and transmission costs, excise duty and VAT) for the period August 5 - 31, 2019. This is 15.62 lv/MWh, or 34.79 per cent, less than the previous price confirmed by the regulator on June 28, 2019. The price for September is now set at 29.49 leva/MWh (excluding access and transmission costs, excise duty and VAT), which is 15.41 leva/MWh, or 34.32 per cent, less compared to the previous price. These prices do not include costs for accessing the natural gas transmission network and for transmission. This week, the regulator will hold meetings behind closed doors to decide on the price of gas for October, November and December of last year. EWRC is conducting an analysis on the impact of the natural gas price changes during the period between Ausgust 2019 and March 2020 on the prices of heating and electricity produced by TPPs with high efficiency cogeneration, and will make a separate decision on those prices. LN/MY
• (NW) Energy Regulator Approves Natural Gas Price Reduction of Over 34% for August, September 2019
Sofia, May 11 (BTA) - The Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (EWRC) announced here on Monday that it has confirmed changes in the price of natural gas for the months of August and September 2019. The natural gas price for the period of August 5 - 31 is 34.79 per cent lower...
• (NW) President Radev and PM Borissov Have Equal Approval Ratings - Alpha Research Poll
Sofia, May 11 (BTA) - President President Rumen Radev and Prime Minister have equal approval ratings, which happens for the first time since Radev took office in 2017, according to a nationally representative poll by Alpha Research. The poll was conducted among 1,000 adults by...
• (DF) Cultural Events, Visits to Museums, Galleries, Libraries Allowed If Complying with Anti-epidemic Measures
May 11 (BTA) - Visits to indoor museums, and outdoor and indoor galleries and libraries is allowed, but in compliance with the requirements for physical distancing and all anti-epidemic measures. This becomes possible after an order to this effect issued by the Health Minister on Monday, the Health Ministry said in a press release Monday. Outdoor cultural events are permitted too, where the allowed occupancy will be up to 30 per cent of the maximum capacity. Visits to cinemas are allowed as well, again with allowed occupancy of up to 30 per cent of the maximum capacity. RI/ZH /??/
• (NW) Keeping Staff Is Biggest Difficulty to Businesses during Crisis - Survey
May 11 (BTA) - Payment of salaries and social security of employees is the biggest difficulty to businesses during the ongoing crisis, according to the findings of an online survey of the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA). The poll was conducted among 584 owners and managers of companies, in May 2-8. The polled companies were mainly micro- and small-sized businesses in retail and services, which have a substantial share in the GDP and which were worst hit by the coronavirus restrictions. Seventy-three of the respondents were forced to lay off part of the entire of their staff. Fifteen per cent had to cut salaries. Fifty-seven per cent said that they need up to 20,000 leva per month in liquid resources to cover their costs in the next three months. Every fourth company needs liquid resources of between 20,000 to 50,000 leva per month, and every tenth, more than 100,000 leva per month. Thirty-four per cent expect to recover their business within a year, 33 per cent, after more than a year, 1.2 per cent think they will be able to recover as soon as the state of emergency is lifted on May 13, and 29 per cent expect to recover within three to six months. A total of 2.4 per cent do not think they will recover at all. Almost half of the respondents know well about the anti-crisis measures of the government in support of the business, 38 per cent know them partially, and 15 per cent do not know at all. About six per cent have taken advantage of the 60/40 jobs retention scheme, 8.5 per cent hesitate whether to apply, while 81.5 per cent think that the measure is ineffective. Fifteen per cent plan to apply for a measure supported by the Bulgarian Development Bank, 31 per cent are still hesitant, and 53 per cent think that none of the measures meets their needs. Eighty-six per cent support reducing VAT on foods and medicines as an anti-crisis measure, 5.6 per cent are against it, and nine per cent do not know. Seventy-four per cent think that the temporary measures in support of the business should stay even after the crisis, seven per cent are of the opposite opinion, and the rest cannot decide. Forty-nine per cent say that the crisis did not lead to increases of their debts to other companies. However, debts increased by up to 100,000 leva for 45 per cent, by between 100,000 and 200,000 leva for 5.5 per cent, and by more than 200,000 leva for 1.7 per cent. The situation with outstanding obligations to the State is similar. Forty-five per cent say they do not have such obligations, the obligations to the State have increased by up to 50,000 leva for 48 per cent, by between 50,000 and 100,000 leva for 5.5 per cent, and by more than 100,000 leva for 1.4 per cent. RI/ZH /??/
• (DF) 1,981 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 11 (BTA) - The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria is 1,981, the task force said at its news briefing on Monday morning. The latest confirmed cases are 26. The fatalities are 91. A total of 461 patients have recovered. Their number has been growing steadily in the past three weeks. A total of 385 patients are in hospital, 58 in intensive care. The number of medical staff with coronavirus infection are 214. RI/ZH /??/
• (DF) Employers and Political Parties Make Proposals for Post-Emergency Measures
May 10 (BTA) - Employers propose that the State cover 60 per cent or more of the salary and social and health insurance contributions of employees who would otherwise have lost their jobs, and employers should pay nothing. This proposal was submitted to Parliament by the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA) on the last day before the legislature takes a final vote on amendments to the Health Act which will regulate the post-emergency measures. According to BICA, equal remuneration for working and non-working employees would be unfair for those who work, and in most cases will not be feasible. They also point out that three days before the end of the state of emergency, only 1.22 per cent of the 1 billion leva allocated for the 60/40 job retention scheme have been used. In this scheme the government pays 60 per cent of the labour cost of pandemic-hit businesses and employees 40 per cent. BICA support a proposal that unpaid leave of up to 60 working days, used in 2020, be added to the length of service. They believe it is not right to empower a single minister - in this case the Minister of Health - to impose temporary anti-epidemic measures across the country or in some regions, as according to the Constitution and the current legislation, this is within the powers of Parliament or the government. The power-sharing VMRO party propose that the power of the Health Minister to declare a state of epidemic emergency should last 30 days and cease to be valid once the WHO declares the end of the pandemic. The VMRO proposal was made public by the party's press office. They also propose extending the protection of debtors from banks and collection agencies to two months after the end of the state of emergency, and to ban distraints on municipal accounts until the end of 2020. According to VMRO, the royalties paid for concession agreements on tourist resorts must be deducted from next year's dues in case the 2020 tourism season is ruined, and the State should grant subidies of 6,000 euro for charter flights by Bulgarian licensed carriers (or failing that, by foreign carriers). In its own proposals for legislative revisions, the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) argues that the entire government rather than just the Health Minister be responsible for future emergency measures. They insist that the government should pay one wage and the retirement and health insurance contributions for each month with a state of emergency to workers who have been forced to take a long unpaid leave. Support should also be ensured for self-employed people, parents, people with bank loans, vegetable and fruit growers and farmers in animal husbandry, as well as workers who have lost their job during the pandemic. The Socialists propose that the minimum daily compensation for unemployment be increased to 17 leva from 9 leva. LN/MT
• (DF) COVID Cases in Bulgaria at 1,965 in Total as of Sunday
May 10 (BTA) - Bulgaria has 1,965 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of 17:00 hrs on Sunday, including 10 new cases from this day, according to Health Ministry figures. A total of 91 patients have died and 444 have recovered completely. The most COVID cases diagnosed in the past 24 hours - 15 - were in the southern region of Blagoevgrad after a hotspot was identified in the village of Ossina with 13 confirmed cases. A total of 385 patients are in medical care, including 58 in intensive care. Three of the new cases are among medical staff and thus infected medics add up to 209 or 11 per cent of all cases. Female patients outnumber male patients: 1,008 against 957. The average age of the patients is 48.6 years. The state of emergency over COVID-19 in Bulgaria ends on May 13 but the distancing measures are already being eased. The authorities have warned that tighter restrictions will be reinstated if over 100 new cases are found in a day for three consecutive days. LN/
• (DF) 75th Anniversary of End of WW II in Europe Observed in Bulgaria
May 9 (BTA) - Bulgaria's President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces Rumen Radev and Vice President Iliana Iotova laid flowers at the Monument to the Unknown Soldier here on Saturday on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War in Europe. Radev told journalists that the over 12,000 Bulgarians killed in the war must be remembered because today's united and peaceful prospering Europe would not have evolved without their self-sacrifice. "Without Victory Day we cannot talk about Europe Day," the head of State argued. "Undoubtedly, World War II brought Nazism and the Holocaust to an end in Europe, making possible the subsequent Day of United Europe," he added. For her part, Iotova warned about "the very strong infection" of fascism in society, which still persists in thinking and can easily reappear "unless we are vigilant". In a greetings address on the occasion of May 9, Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) leader Kornelia Ninova called for commemoration of the "tens of thousands of Bulgarian antifascists and soldiers whose heroism in the final phase of the war accelerated the end of the Third Reich." "The attempts to belittle this feat and to rewrite and twist history retroactively because of ad hoc political interests are unbecoming. There is just one historical truth, and the BSP will always stand up for it. Without the Victory Day, there would not have been a Europe Day," the message reads. In a Facebook post, VOLYA Party leader and National Assembly Deputy Chairman Vesselin Mareshki wrote, quoted by his party in a press release: "Let us acknowledge and honour the self-sacrifice" of the millions of WW II heroes." "Europe must never again live through that horror. Let us show sabre-rattlers that we will not allow them such madness." "Peoples must cooperate rather than fight. Not a single political objective can justify the destruction of national assets and the extermination of innocent people. This is a crime against humanity," Mareshki commented further on. LG
• (DF) 1,921 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria, Infection Reaches NE Turgovishte Region
May 9 (BTA) - The confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bulgaria total 1,921 as of Saturday afternoon, said the Health Ministry. There are 10 new cases during the day, including five in Pazardjik, four in Kyustendil and one in Vratsa. A total of 389 patients are in hospital, including 56 in intensive care. Among the patients are 206 medical professionals, which is 11 per cent of all COVID cases. Female patients outnumber male patients: 983 against 938. The average age of the patients is 48.6 years. A total of 90 COVID patients have died. Two more fatalities were reported on Saturday in Sofia. The infection has spread to 12 of the 28 regions in the country, Turgovishte being the latest to be affected. A patient in Kurdjali who had COVID and then was considered recovered with a negative test, has tested positive again. Other countries have reported such cases and the World Health Organization believes that in such cases the virus had migrated to the lower part of the respiratory tract, said the task force secretary, Dimo Dimov. The task force has said that tricter lockdown measures will be reintroduced after three days with over 100 new cases. LN///
• (DF) Bulgaria Marks Europe Day
Bulgaria markws Europe Day on Saturday. The flag of the European Union was hoisted in a ceremony at the Presidency building. President Rumen Radev, Vice President Iliana Iotova and Chief of Defence Admiral Emil Evtimov were at the ceremony. In a video message on Europe Day, Prim Minister Boyko Borissov said that Europe is "the best place in the world to live, the mosr democratic, with the most solidarity and most rights for its peple". It was his contribution to a video in which state and government leaders congratulate European people on this special day. In his message, Borissov urges his counterparts to do their best to make sure "we regain what we had: solidarity, strength and prosperity". Ninety-three musicians and choir members of the Sofia Philharmonic recorded a video with a performance of the Ode to Joy on Europe Day. Each one of them made a video of his or her part and the videos were then put together. The NDK convention centre and the Bulgarian National Television (BNT) were partners in the project. The video was shown on BNT. LN/
• (DF) 1,911 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria, Infection Reaches Turgovishte
May 9 (BTA) - The confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Bulgaria total 1,911 as of Saturday, said the national coronavirus task force. There are 46 new cases including 22 in hospital. A total of 1,777 people were tested in the past 24 hours. The infection has spread to 12 of the 28 districts in the country, Turgovishte being the latest to be affected. A patient in Kurdjali who had COVID and then was considered recovered with a negative test, has tested positive again. Other countries have reported such cases and the World Health Organization believes that in such cases the virus had migrated to the lower part of the respiratory tract, said the task force secretary, Dimo Dimov. Four more doctors and one nurse have contracted the virus, including two in Sofia's Pirogov emergency hospital, one each in Sofia's Military Medical Academy, a hospital in Plovdiv and in Vidin. The task force has said that tricter lockdown measures will be reintroduced after three days with over 100 new cases. LN//
• (DF) 1,872 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 8 (BTA) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria reached 1,872 by 5 p.m. on Friday according to figures released by the national coronavirus task force, the Health Ministry said. A total of 379 COVID-19 patients have been hospitalized, of whom 49 are in intensive care. Five of the new COVID-19 cases are children aged 7 to 18, national coronavirus task force secretary Assoc. Prof. Dimo Dimov told a morning briefing. A total of 401 patients have recovered, Dimov said. Two hundred and one members of the medical staff have been infected, or 11 per cent of all cases. There have been 86 COVID-19 fatalities. NV,RI/MT,PP //
• (DF) Charged Gambling Mogul Urges Finance Minister to Resign, Fears for His Life if He Returns
May 8 (BTA) - Gambling mogul Vassil Bojkov claimed that he is innocent of the 11 charges brought against him in Bulgaria and urged Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov to resign. In an exclusive telephone interview for bTV from Dubai on Friday morning, Bojkov said he was afraid for his life if he returned home because Bulgaria is "currently governed by a junta" and does not respect the rule of law. Bojkov said he could come back to Bulgaria when his case reaches the court, hoping that he will be tried objectively. The businessman, considered to be the wealthiest Bulgarian with assets worth between 1.5 and 3 billion leva, was charged in Bulgaria on January 29, 2020 with evasion of more than 700 million leva in gambling licensing fees, money laundering, extortion, bribery, murder, rape, leading an organized crime group since 2014, trading in influence, and unlawful possession of cultural assets. He left the country before the full-scale crackdown against him, was put on an Interpol Red Notice, and was arrested in the UAE on January 31. Bojkov told bTV that he had been released after spending some three weeks at the Al Wathba Prison, now holds resident status, and is free to leave the country but risks being arrested if he does so. The fugitive from justice said he had not met with Bulgarian officials in Dubai and had not been contacted by Bulgarian prosecutors even though he answers his phone. He noted that the warrant for his arrest was issued two days after he left Bulgaria on business. "There is not a single substantiated charge against me," the interviewee argued. He dismissed as groundless a statement by Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev, who described him as "the most dangerous Bulgarian". "Presenting people as guilty without an enforceable sentence is unlawful. Only totalitarian regimes adopt such practices," Bojkov argued. He urged Vladislav Goranov to resign as Finance Minister because he either connived or ignored legislative amendments initiated by GERB that enabled Bojkov's scratch-card lotteries to pay lower licensing fees than the Bulgarian Sports Totalizator. Bojkov said that his assets had been wrongfully frozen by the National Revenue Agency (NRA) and accused Prime Minister Boyko Borissov in person of ruining his companies. The interviewee argued that the PM used the prosecution service, the State Agency for National Security and the NRA as "baseball bats" to force him out of business. Bojkov said he had frequent personal contacts about his gambling operations with Goranov, who was thus aware of the way his accountants applied the law. The businessman denied having had any contacts with Gambling Commission members. Bojkov said he will sue Bulgaria in a London court for mishandling his collection of ancient artefacts, which he described as "a crime against humanity". "Geshev the Taliban and his minions are destroying world cultural and historical heritage," he argued. Approached about the dire financial straits of PFC Levski, of which his close associate Georgi Popov is a majority shareholder, Bojkov said he was ready to sell the stake to any investor or to transfer it gratuitously to the football club fans because he can no longer finance its operation as the law-enforcement actions against him have left him penniless. Reacting to the interview, Goranov told a news briefing at Parliament later in the day that ever since he entered the gambling business, Bojkov or his employees violated the Gambling Act by misdeclaring and underpaying fees. Once he pays the Exchequer the overdue amount of 700 million leva or so, the businessman will have "the moral and statutory grounds to claim that the Gambling Commission should let him resume his business," the Minister emphasized. "When you are accused, it is very easy to accuse the entire society that it is dysfunctional because you are at a disadvantage," Goranov said. The Finance Minister does not think he can be blamed for Bojkov's employees misapplying the Gambling Act. He said that he did meet with the businessman but refused to grant his request to equalize taxation of offline and online gambling. Approached by www.segabg.com, Borissov denied that Bojkov had been dispossessed "of a plant or an enterprise". "Gambling simply became state-owned, and its revenues are now spent on sports financing," he added. LG //
• (DF) Parliament Passes Post-Emergency Measures Legislationon First Reading
May 8 (BTA) - Bulgaria's Parliament Friday voted, 125-0 with 69 abstentions, to pass on first reading a Government-proposed bill amending the Health Act which empowered the Health Minister to introduce epidemic-control measures after the lifting of the COVID-19 state of emergency on May 13. Such measures may be proposed by the Chief State Health Inspector and the directors of the regional health inspectorates. GERB, the United Patriots, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, Volya and independent MPs supported the draft legislation, and BSP for Bulgaria abstained. Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov, Labour and Social Policy Minister Denitsa Sacheva, Health Minister Kiril Ananiev and Justice Minister Danail Kirilov attended the plenary sitting. The amendments enable the Minister of Health to issue an order establishing the terms and procedure for the compulsory isolation and hospital treatment of persons suffering from infectious diseases, their contacts or persons who arrive in Bulgaria from abroad. The revisions also specify the timeframe of the socio-economic, financial and health measures taken in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, extending some of them by up to two months after the expiry of the state of emergency. Motions for modifications of the provisions may be entered by 6 p.m. on May 10, the legislature resolved. The Legal Affairs Committee will debate the bill on second reading on Monday, and it will be put to a conclusive plenary vote on Tuesday at 1 p.m. The National Assembly will hold a regular plenary sitting on May 14, Parliament's Chair Tsveta Karayancheva said. During Friday's debate, BSP leader Kornelia Ninova said that her parliamentary group will propose the setting up of an ad hoc parliamentary committee to inquire into the way the public financial resources on the coronavirus response are being spent and will move that the opposition should chair that committee. NV/LG /??/
• (DF) 1,865 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 8 (BTA) - The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria has reached 1,865, informed national task force secretary Assoc. Prof. Dimo Dimov. Over the last 24 hours, 1,397 test sample were analysed; there are 54 new cases.
• (DF) 1,829 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 7 (BTA) - The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria reached 1,829 on Thursday, the Health Ministry said in a press release. Two new deaths were reported, bringing the total fatalities to 84.
• (DF) Sludge Repository Leaks at Republica Power Plant, Leakage Under Control
May 7 (BTA) - There was a leak in the "September 7" sludge repository of the Republica thermal power plant in the western town of Pernik, head of the Toplofikatsiya heating company Lyubomir Spasov told BTA. The repository has been used to store millions of tons of waste from the power plant for over fifty years. Spasov explained that some of the water covering the stored waste has spilled over. Traffic was temporarily stopped between kilometres 78 and 86 of the road to Sofia, as the lanes could be flooded, the Road Infrastructure Agency informed. Ministers Mladen Marinov of Interior, Emil Karanikolov of Economy, Emil Dimitrov of Environment and Water, and head of the Fire Safety and Civil Protection Directorate Nikolai Nikolov went to Pernik to evaluate the situation. Later, CEO of Toplofikatsiya Lyubomir Spasov said that the leakage has been stopped, and no houses have been flooded. The Prosecution Service announced that it is initiating an investigation into the case of a broken levee. The case will be taken over by the Prosecutor's Office of Appeals in Sofia. RY/MT /??/
• (DF) 1,811 Confirmed COVID-19 Cases in Bulgaria
May 7 (BTA) - The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Bulgaria is 1,811, the task force said at its news briefing on Thursday morning. The latest confirmed cases are 53. Two new deaths were reported, bringing the total fatalities to 84. A total of 384 patients have recovered. The head of the national task force, Prof. Ventsislav Moutafchiiski, said that treatment with blood plasma is performed only in the Medical Military Academy for now. Two patients underwent such treatment, one of whom died. The other is in good condition. Moutafchiiski said that the incidence increased to three three times over the past couple of days but the system can handle the spike. The higher incidence is mainly attributed to people flying in from abroad and in nursing homes for old people. Moutafchiiski reminded that the measures must be complied with. He said "regular violations of the requirements are being observed". The result from the easing of some measures is yet to be analyzed, Moutafchiiski said, noting that opening of cinemas, theatres and museums is not on the agenda. An analysis has shown that two, out of six, infected people are being identified. RI/ZH /??/
• (NW) Bulgarian Psychotherapy In a Time of Pandemic
May 7 (Desislava Toncheva, BTA) - The unfolding of the coronavirus pandemic in recent months has completely reshaped public life and affected people in every aspect of their existence, from their physical wellbeing, to their social interactions and economic situation, psychotherapists point out. "It is only natural for existential anxiety to be triggered by current circumstances, and in addition, each person has their own personal traumas and internal psychological struggles, which are now more likely to surface and need attending to," said psychotherapist Lilia Georgieva in a comment related to the psychological side of the current global crisis. She is one of four psychotherapists that BTA's Daily News interviewed concerning the effects of the pandemic on their clients, themselves, their practice and the people around them. The other three specialists who shared their observations here are psychotherapists Elena Ilieva, Mariya Atanasova and Stoyan Kuzmanov. Private Practice in a Time of Pandemic Like many other areas of public life, following the announcement of the pandemic and the imposition of social distancing measures, many private practice psychotherapists in Bulgaria also moved their "office" to various online platforms, usually Skype or Zoom. This type of therapy existed before the state of emergency, but is generally less commonly preferred to standard live weekly therapeutic appointments. The therapists explained that changing the modality definitely affects the process, but in a different way for everyone. Some of them prefer to work with clients live and are already considering options to open their office for specific clients, with increased safety measures. Others have adapted quite well to this way of working, even holding group meetings online. Among them is the Director of the Bulgarian Institute for Gestalt Therapy, Elena Ilieva, who even managed to organize online modules for therapists-in-training, and also offered a number of one-off free counseling sessions for people seeking support in adjusting to the crisis. Psychotherapy Clients in a Time of Pandemic According to the therapists, clients respond differently to the new conditions: some postpone therapy for a future date because of lack of personal contact in online sessions or because of insufficient personal space at home, while others manage to find safety and comfort in this new type of communication. The specialists interviewed do say the number of their clients has declined during the state of emergency, mainly due to financial reasons, but also that the crisis has led some people to begin the therapy they have long-postponed. The nature of the topics the therapists work with and the clients they attract however have not changed much. Most clients continue to work on their major topics related to anxiety, traumas, depression, existential issues, as well as a desire for change, self-awareness and development, and an overall increase in the quality of communication and life satisfaction. The financial instability that the crisis has brought is an important thing to note, as it certainly brings a lot of tension. "A lot of my clients are experiencing fears about the economic consequences that are already happening and will develop in the future," says Stoyan Kuzmanov. "At first, my clients seemed to forget about their problems, the crisis shifted the focus from their usual suffering and their accompanying symptoms disappeared during the first one or two weeks. After that, anxiety and panic set in, in some cases even psychotic experiences, and their symptoms come back, sometimes accompanied by a tendency for depression,'' summarizes Mariya Atanasova. An interesting fact shared by two of the psychotherapists is that some clients, usually ones suffering from depression, anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder, are paradoxically feeling better than before. "In the current situation, they are not the exception, but have similar experiences to others, and actually manage to support others because they know this state well," says Elena Ilieva. Mariya Atanasova adds that these people are now in their element and feel useful to others with their knowledge. This observation is also shared by some foreign therapists. Lilia Georgieva believes that the conditions of the current situation contribute to much deeper therapeutic work in many cases. "Clients are fully present, the sessions develop spontaneously, and are devoted to their most cherished and intimate topics, topics related to shame, rejection and self-hatred, negative feelings for loved ones, violence, etc. Clients are more inclined to dive into what is unpleasant and painful, in order to update, illuminate, redefine and accept it and to get rid of the old refrain of their story, " she said. Lilia is not sure to what extent this is affected by the crisis and to what extent it is facilitated by working online, which does bring a certain amount of support through the boundary of the screen and the security of one's home. Bulgarians in a Time of Pandemic The therapists describe the impact of the crisis on Bulgarians in both a positive and negative light. "Since the very first days of 'social distancing', which is more properly called 'physical distancing', I noticed a lot more manifestations of empathy, willingness to help and tolerance. Social engagement has definitely increased," notes Elena Ilieva. "It is different for everyone of course, but I noticed that many people say that (this situation) comes to them at the right time, and many people have began engaging with their own fears and problems, which they have long put aside. On the other hand, there is a widespread worry about the financial side of things, that it may make it make it impossible for people to meet their basic needs,'' says Mariya Atanasova, adding that, as a whole, people are managing to adapt to the new reality. Stoyan Kuzmanov also shares this opinion. "At the moment, many of the people around me are doing well and adjusting to the different rhythm of life. Parents of young children (up to 7-8 years old) face more challenges in the 24-hour communication with their kids at home and have more moments of "freaking out". In recent days, I've also had the observation that, as if there is a clearer division of two groups of people: some who continue to abide by the isolation, have a fear of the virus and care for their health, and others who have exhausted their patience and approach the situation with anger, distrust and anxiety about what is ahead, they just want to come back to their familiar rhythm of life," Stoyan points out. Lilia Georgieva also highlights these two types of people in her observations. However, she notes that those who think they are "above it all" and ridicule and deny the situation sometimes are not aware of their own anxiety and do not relate to it in a healthy way. This existential anxiety often manifests itself in psychotherapy in the form of constantly emerging new problems, such as fear of loneliness, aging and death, which can lead to severe hypochondriac conditions and panic attacks. The therapists are adamant that healthy association with and acceptance of the existence of an existential anxiety is not only natural, but also necessary. Lilia believes that people could take advantage of their ?pause? and devote some time and attention to themselves, give space to their internal processes which need to unfold and be tended to, and fully feel and experience them in order to reach a moment of closure. DT// /??/
• (NW) European Commission: Bulgarian Economy Expected to Contract by 7.2% in 2020, Grow by 6% in 2021
May 6 (BTA Correspondent Nikolay Jeliazkov) - Bulgaria's real GDP is projected to contract by over 7 per cent in 2020, largely due to the adverse impact of measures taken to contain the spread of the pandemic following the declaration of a state of emergency on 13 March 2020, writes the European Commission (EC) in its Spring Economic Forecast for EU countries, published on Wednesday.
• (DF) Town of Yakoruda Safely Observes St. George Day Festivities amid Coronavirus Pandemic
May 6 (BTA) - The small southwestern Bulgarian mountain town of Yakoruda has a special relationship with St. George's Day, also known as the Feast of Saint George, a Christian holiday observed across several countries. Bulgaria marks this day on May 6, and not even the coronavirus pandemic could prevent the people of Yakoruda from celebrating their town's holiday, albeit adapting it to the safety regulations.
• (DF) President Radev Addresses Nation on Day of Bravery and the Bulgarian Armed Forces and St. George Day
May 6 (BTA) - On Wednesday, President and Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Bulgarian Armed Forces Rumen Radev addressed the nation on the occasion of May 6, the Day of Bravery and the Bulgarian Armed Forces. In his speech, Radev pointed out that after decades of experimentation, redundancies and shortages, the Bulgarian Army has finally taken the long-awaited path of modernization. ''This time, however, there is no room for bargains and political survival games,'' stressed the President.
• (DF) 1,778 COVID-19 Cases Confirmed in Bulgaria
May 6 (BTA) - A total of 1,465 people were tested for COVID-19 between May 5 and May 6, bringing the total number of test samples to 51,768 or 7,395 per one million population. In this sampling, there have been 69 positive results. As of 5 pm on May 6, there have been an additional 20 confirmed new cases. The total number of laboratory confirmed infections in the country reached 1, 778, said the National Coronavirus Taskforce.



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