Press Today – August 10, 2011
"Despite the crisis, ministries paid bonuses to their employees in 2010 and 2011," "24 Chassa" writes
"Interior Ministry Tries to Launder Donations": under this heading, "Sega" writes that the Ministry has made a desperate attempt to account for the amazing surge of donations in the first half of 2011, which even earned a mention in the European Commission's report as a vicious practice. "Three months after the scandal erupted over suspicions that the police accept donations in exchange for shielding businessmen, the Interior Ministry called an urgent news conference at which it presented an edited version of its revenue report, published an inconclusive and censored report of the National Audit Office, and demonstrated a rather debatable application of financial and accounting reporting rules."
"The over 3 million leva donations concealed by the Interior Ministry are not just the latest in a series of scandals at the Ministry. They invite the conclusion that we don't need right this Interior Ministry. It is time for politicians to explain to taxpayers what happens at the (literally) dearest institution," "Pari" comments on its front page.
"In October the Interior Ministry will name its donors," Deputy Interior Minister Dimiter Georgiev writes in a comment in "Klassa". The author notes that "the interpretation of the data makes it possible to disclose information speculatively, when presented in a manner different from the manner on our websites. Probably the reason is the run-up to the elections and may be used to focus attention on a working institution like the Interior Ministry, but not on how it works but how financial resources presented by misinterpreted figures are misabsorbed," Georgiev argues. "We have the will and we are firmly committed to ending the opportunity of receiving donations from natural and legal persons. Only municipalities and state institutions will remain as eligible donors. I don't see any danger in a municipality or a mayoralty making a donation," the Deputy Minister writes.
Supervision of the investigation in an August 5 car crash in Sofia, in which two pedestrians were killed, has been transferred from the Sofia City Prosecution Office to the Sofia District Prosecution Office because one of the drivers involved, Bisser Andreev, is son of Ventsislav Andreev, who works at the City Prosecution Office road accident investigation department, Deputy City Prosecutor Bozhidar Djambazov explained to "Sega".
"Despite the crisis, ministries paid bonuses to their employees in 2010 and 2011," "24 Chassa" writes. The Ministry of Physical Education and Sports paid bonuses totaling 251,035 leva, of which 30,600 leva were distributed among six members of the leadership, which makes 5,100 leva per person. Ten heads of directorate received 38,525 leva in aggregate. Twenty-one division chiefs got an average of 2,230 leva each, considering that 46,819 leva were spent for that purpose. Seventeen state experts shared 28,003 leva, and 55 chief experts got 60,577 leva. Lower-rank bureaucrats were paid approximately 900 leva ech. Almost all officials received bonuses. The Ministry has 175 tenured positions, of which 13 are vacant, and bonuses were given to 157 holders. "The maintenance of vacancies is actually a main source of the bonus money," the paper says.
"Klassa" quotes figures released by the Bulgarian National Bank, according to which 492 households each kept over 1 million leva on bank deposits at the end of June 2011. The millionnaires increased by 13 from the first quarter and by 66 from the like period of 2010.
"Douma" writes that the average monthly wage declined from 710 leva in April to 698 leva in May and 690 leva in June. Those employed in financial intermediation and insurance drew an average 1,429 leva monthly, those in health care 702 leva, in education 692 leva, and in hoteliery and restaurateurship 452 leva. The number of employed persons declined by 29,000 at the end of June, year on year.
"Telegraf" says that since 1999 utility bills have been eating up each wage and pension rise. Electricity and water prices follow closely the growth of income and jump whenever household income increases. The consumption of electricity, water and fuel for household needs took up 12 per cent of wages in 1999 and 14.3 per cent now. "Adding the spending on food, the cost of survival soars to over 50 per cent of our income," the daily notes.
"We are analyzing the telephone services market," Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Simeon Djankov is quoted as saying in the top story of "24 Chassa". "Our initial research showed that call charges do fall, but far more slowly than they should. That is why, if these serious discrepancies are confirmed, we will approach the Commission on Protection of Competition in October: 'you see, it is not just talk, we have serious arguments, so check what is going on on that market'." Regarding concerns over the impending new financial crisis, Djankov says: "A new global crisis is not coming. Some countries may have problems with their fiscal stability, but Bulgaria does not have such problems and will not have any."
VAT fraud inflicts between 700 and 750 million leva losses on the Exchequer annually, National Revenue Agency Krassimir Stefanov says in a "Dnenvnik" interview. The figures come from the first official check that the Agency conducted in an analysis for the 2005-2009 period. Thus, in five years the State lost over 3,000 million leva. A European Commission survey found that the average losses from VAT in the EU Member States are 12 per cent of the revenues that it is expected to generate, which is consistent with the Bulgarian estimates. The largest VAT fraud attempts in Bulgaria are committed in transactions between Bulgarian companies and their partners in Greece and Romania, the daily writes on its front page.
"Whether Customs will close the Bourgas refinery again is expected to become clear on Wednesday," "Sega" reports. According to the daily, the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) is ready to pronounce on the dispute over the withdrawan tax warehouse licences of Lukoil Neftochim. Pending the judgment, the National Customs Agency has published its appeals to the SAC against the Sofia Administrative Court rulings, according to which the offending refinery must operate because it would otherwise sustain enormous losses. Customs are concerned that, for lack of metering devices, the refinery may sell fuels without paying the excise duties due.
THE HOME SCENE
"Borissov Already Depends on Tsvetanov as Much as Tsvetanov Depends on Borissov:" under this heading, "Sega" carries an interview with sociologist Zhivko Georgiev. He does not see conditions for early parliamentary elections. "Evidently, with the support of Ataka and the independent MPs, GERB will secure that parliamentary comfort which makes such elections pointless in parliamentary terms. Those who have already demonstrated support for GERB on several occasions stand nothing to gain from early elections. They will not make it to the next parliament. Even if they are not bought by GERB, even if their dependence is not that vulgar, these are already private individuals not backed by any political force," Georgiev emphasizes. "The thing that could most seriously destabilize GERB is the appearance of a Right-wing alternative. A Left-wing alternative exists," the sociologist observes.
Roadworthiness inspections will cost Bulgarian motorists more next year, Road Transport Executive Agency Director Valentin Bozhkov told "Troud". The increase is due to the implementation of a system of online monitoring of the inspection points, which should be operational before the end of the year. Cameras will be installed at all 800 service stations conducting such inspections, and a server will make it possible to control the inspections in real time, the paper writes in a front-page item. Bozhkov says that an increase of the price by 2, 5 or 10 leva is justified, once the idea is to tighten control and keep dangerous vehicles out of the road.
"Troud" writes that the prices at which disused cars are bought by junkyards have quadrupled in two years, from 150-200 leva in 2009 to 400-600 leva now.
Nearly 50,000 end-of-life vehicles were recycled in 2010. In the first half of this year they numbered 32,500, according to the register of the Executive Environment Agency. These quantities, however, are insufficient for 100 per cent utilization of the recycling capacities in Bulgaria.
A day ago hotel owners in Sunny Beach demanded a dramatic restriction on pub crawls. At a round table in the resort, tour operators, hotel keepers and police officials were unanimous that these package tours of bars and discos have earned Sunny Beach the dubious fame of an alcohol tourism hub. Interviewed by "Troud", Elena Ivanova, who chairs the Union of Owners in Sunny Beach, notes that the drinking establishments must be sound-proofed. Hoteliers, who are also municipal councillors, suggest that under municipal regulations open-air establishments should not stay open past midnight. Another option is to adopt the practice of Golden Sands: youth tourism from May 1 to June 15 and from Septmeber 15 to October 30. "This is a good option because the season is thus practically lengthened without the interests of the different types of tourists coming into conflict, and everybody is happy," Ivanova notes. "We do not oppose night life, we don't want to stop it or to close night establishments. Sure they should be there. They are attractive and lend life to the resort at night. But they must mandatorily be sound-proofed," she argues.
"We are becoming a Disneyland for drunkards," Bulgarian Union of Balneology and SPA Tourism Chairman Stefan Sharlopov comments in a "Standart News" interview. "We must realize that if we want to make money on tourism, we must quit Balkan boorishness in such cases. I know that the crisis is shaking this industry like all others. But this crazy race for pub crawls and packages with unlimited booze will lead to nothing good," he asserts.
Prof. Nikolai Ovcharov details "Telegraf" about the new archaeological excavations this summer. At the Sts Peter and Paul Monastery near Veliko Turnovo, the archaeologists found unique graves dating from the 16th-18th century. They yielded several silver rings and silver buttons. The excavations at Perperikon are almost completed. "This project has won 3,700,000 leva from Operational Programme Regional Development, which will go for infrastructure, sewerage, water supply, power supply and lighting," Ovcharov says. In the autumn, archaeologists are starting work at the important Ourvich Castle near Sofia where, according to legend, Tsar Ivan Shisman fought the invading Ottomans.
"Anonymous" hackers have threatened to eliminate Facebook on November 5, "Standart News" reports on its front page. The group has gained notoriety for its numerous attacks against governments and major corporations worldwide. The hackers are now calling on their supporters around the globe to unite and "destroy Facebook for the sake of the inviolability of personal data". The video with their appeal, which has been uploaded on YouTube.com, is in English, German and Spanish, the daily specifies.