Press Today – June 11
The increase of the minimum monthly wage from 240 to 270 leva may be left for after July 1
"The closed stronghold MRF [Movement for Rights and Freedoms] is democratizing under the pressure of events and growing tensions in ethnically mixed areas catalyzed by people around expelee Kasim Dal," "Sega" comments. The party's Central Council decided that the Movement's local chapters will open to the people and will nominate their mayoral candidates at open meetings. People who are not MRF members will have the right to attend the meetings in full voting capacity. Nominees, too, will not have to be card-holding members of the MRF. The central leadership will have the final say.
The MRF local chapters can ally themselves with all except Ataka. "None of the parliamentary parties has imposed restrictions on its chapters in this respect," MRF Deputy Chairman Lyutvi Mestan stressed.
"Sega" writes that Democrats for Strong Bulgaria leader Ivan Kostov insured himself against a failure of his candidates in the Blue Coalition open primaries for candidates for president and mayor of Sofia by blaming in advance GERB and Deputy Prime Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, who recently claimed that Kostov is connected with the shadow economy.
The BSP [Bulgarian Socialist Party] and the MRF tabled a motion of no confidence over the failure of the Government's anti-crisis policy, "Novinar" reports. The motion, backed by 68 MPs, will be debated next Thursday and will be put to the vote on Friday. "The purpose is to precipitate early elections rather than to oust one minister or another," the opposition explained. If the motion is defeated, the opposition will enter yet another motion, over the Cabinet's overall policy, in July. The BSP and the MRF are adamant that pre-term elections, whether this autumn or next spring, are the only way out of the grave crisis.
"Douma" quotes the Left as demanding a moratorium on all transactons for shale gas extraction in Bulgaria until the tangible risks they spell to the country are assessed. The move was prompted by a statement of Economy, Energy and Tourism Minister Traicho Traikov that he will sign a contract with a US company which is supposed to start presently prospecting for shale gas deposits in this country. The BSP warns that mere prospecting for shale gas endangers water and soil. It may ruin the environment irreversibly and may contaminate water of a quarter of the country.
"Ataka" claims that Prime Minister Boyko Borissov is becoming a hostage to the breakaways for the no confidence motion. The Blue Coalition Friday claimed as their own the subject of the unkept promises on the anti-crisis policy. Earlier this week, Ataka leader Volen Siderov said that "he will not provide a support which is unwanted." "This happened after GERB, together with the BSP, the MRF and the Blue Coalition broke the Rules of Procedure and blocked Ataka's nominations for the standing committee vacancies of the three breakaways," the paper writes.
The same daily reports that Ankara is paying poor Bulgarian children to convert to Islam. The free schools also attract Gypsy children in this country. Children in those schools learn the Koran by rote and study Turkish.
"24 Chassa" reports the expulsion of six members of the MRF central leadership for supporting the policy of dissenter Kasim Dal.
"The PM urged: 'Squash Corrupt Traffic Cops'," "Troud" says. The remark was prompted by a crack-down on a group of traffic policemen who were detected by hidden cameras in their patrol cars taking bribes from drivers on the Trakia Motorway. Ten of the police officers have been arrested. Borissov called on the inspectorates at the other ministries as well as to fight corruption as actively.
"Pensioners proved hostages to privatization," "Sega" wries. The privatization of several important state-owned enterprises proved the power-holders' hidden trump for a penison rise. The idea is to speed up the sale and replenish the fiscal reserve with the proceeds, so that resources could be freed for an increase of senior citizens' incomes. The fiscal reserve is already down to the critical minimum of a little over 4,500 million leva, the lowest level below which, under the law, the Government cannot use it. The budget remains in deficit and there is obviously no hope of any dramatic increase in tax revenue, which would make it possible to raise pensions. The idea is to remove items from the list of unprivatizable enterprises, which includes arms business companies such as Kintex, the Bulgarian State Railways and the National Railway Infrastructure Company, Bulgarian Posts and LB Bulgaricum, among others.
"Novinar" covers an article, published on Georgi Purvanov's personal website, in which the President called for a reinstatement and improvement of the abolished point-total system for entitlement to pension. The head of State argues that the decision of the incumbents to eliminate the system was "wrong and unreasoned, deprived the pension system of flexibility, and denied people an opportunity to offset a shorter contributory service by a higher age and vice versa."
"Douma" quotes the same article as saying that "the pension system is getting ever more unfair and ever more inadequate, it gives rise to additional poverty, and public mistrust of it has reached a record high level."
"I will lock myself on my birthday," Prime Minister Boyko Borissov told "Troud". "I can work at that pace for another four or five years. I want to see the underground railway next year, and at last there will be a sports hall now on July 30, and the Trakia [Motorway] will be a fact in June 2012. I have said what I want on numerous occasons. The place I felt most secure was at the Interior Ministry. Incidentally, I wonder how people before me became prime ministers without any previous employment. Stanishev and the king. The four years I spent as mayor of Sofia were a huge administrative and economic experience for me. I really don't know how those people came out of nowhere and, all of a suddenЕ that's why their incumbency was such. I have a sociology of my own. Wherever I go, I observe the way people regard me. Whether we want it or not, we'll go down in history. What matters to me is to be remembered for my good name. I think we'll go down in history for what we are building and will be building."
"Sega" reports that Robert Koch Institute head Reinhard Burger and Lower Saxony Agriculture Minister Gert Lindemann said on Friday that the deadly E.coli bacteria, that have killed 31 people (including 30 Germans), came from contaminated alfalfa, mung bean, radish and arugula sprouts grown at a farm in Bienenbuettel, Lower Saxony.
"24 Chassa" said that the increase of the minimum monthly wage from 240 to 270 leva may be left for after July 1, judging from an argument between Finance Minister Simeon Djankov and Labour and Social Policy Minister Totyu Mladenov at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Djankov is concerned that the employers' organizations will resist the move at the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation and wants to give them more time for analysis. Thirty-thousand public employees, mainly in education and at the Social Assistance Agency, will get a pay rise when the minimum wage is increased, Djankov reported to the Council of Ministers.
"Monitor" reports that Bulgargaz has pared its request for a hike of the natural gas price from 7.12 per cent to 6.91 per cent, effective July 1. If the State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (SEWRC) grants the request, natural gas will cost 568.92 leva per 1,000 sq m before VAT in the third quarter of 2011. Heat power prices will be revised upwards accordingly and may prove 3-4 per cent higher than earlier estimates. The SEWRC has calculated the prices to be charged by heating utilities as from July 1 according to the present price of natural gas. The hike of heat power would be 0.66 per cent for Sofia, some 5 per cent for Plovdiv, slightly over 2 per cent for Varna, and nearly 10 per cent for Pleven.
SPORTS AT SCHOOL
"Troud" reports that more than 600 schools countrywide, out of a total of 2,700, do not have gyms and any sports facilities. Another 500-600 schools use adapted premises for their physical education classes. Facilities in nearly 90 per cent of the gyms are obsolete. First- to fourth-graders do not have qualified sports instructors and in most cases are sent to the yard to play. At the same time, 67 per cent of schoolchildren suffer from spinal deformities. "A World Health Organization directive requires that children be provided with exercise for one hour daily," Deputy Sports Minister Ivan Tsenov explained. Bulgaria is at the bottom of the table of the EU Member States, even though schoolchildren are supposed to have three periods of physical education weekly.