Archive for July, 2013

Bulgarian Nationalist Leader Demands Abolition of State Subsidies for Political Parties

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Bulgaria’s nationalist party Ataka plans to submit to the parliamentary registry a proposal for eliminating subsidies for political parties.

The step was announced by Ataka leader Volen Siderov in Parliament on Wednesday.

Under Ataka’s proposal, both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary parties must not receive state subsidies, while MPs who fail to show up in Parliament must not receive payment, according to reports of mediapool.bg.

Under Bulgaria’s existing legislation, political parties which received over 1% of the votes at the parliamentary elections, as well as coalitions which entered Parliament, receive state subsidies.

If the MPs failed to show up in Parliament for one month, they get around 1/3 of the salary and 2/3 of the unaccounted-for funds awarded for consultancy and expert services.

In his Wednesday statement, Siderov claimed that the other three parties in Parliament – the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) party and the center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB), party, were acting in collusion.

“There is an imitation of debate, no debates are actually taking place. They hold the same opinion on the budget revision debates and the summer recess, and everything. This means that there are no differences in governance. Technically speaking, all ministries are run by people of GERB. Apart from the Minister, who is a political figure, all officials below him are GERB people,” the nationalist leader told journalists.

Remembering recent clashes with Vyara Ankova, Director of the Bulgarian National Televison (BNT), over the TV’s allegedly skewed coverage of anti-government protests, Siderov went on to call for budget cuts for BNT and all other TVs receiving money from the state budget.

Ataka’s leader suggested that Bulgaria’s Council for Electronic Media also consisted of people of GERB.

Asked to comment on the change of stance of GERB leader and former Prime Minister Boyko Borisov, who initially called for immediate snap elections and a resignation of the socialist-led government, but changed his mind in favor of early elections in May 2014, Siderov said that Borisov was a person who changed his mind three times a day – morning, noon and evening.

To illustrate his point, he said that GERB MPs had been supposed to not show up in Parliament, but they were in attendance, adding that there was most probably somebody who was pulling their strings, “be they oligarchic rings, foreign embassies or other factors.”

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Bulgarian MPs Postpone Budget Debate amid Fears of Fresh Siege

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

After hours of heated debate on a controversial budget revision, Bulgaria’s lawmakers decided to postpone the rest of the discussion for Thursday – as a fresh siege of Parliament by protesters loomed.

The MPs were expected to pass at second reading the actualization of State budget 2013, but decided to play safe and finish work early, as they faced being trapped inside Parliament by a mass anti-government rally once again.

“More and more people are gathering outside,” Parliament Chair Mihail Mikov told the lawmakers at 4:30 pm Wednesday.

They quickly voted in favor of a proposal to postpone the rest of the debate for Thursday.

On July 23, more than 100 politicians, journalists and staff were trapped inside the Parliament building overnight after an unusually late sitting coincided with the 40th evening protest against the embattled Socialist-led government. Riot police attempted to move some of the MPs, including three government ministers, out of parliament on a heavily guarded bus, but protesters prevented the bus from leaving. Skirmishes broke out, leaving several people injured. The officials were eventually escorted out in the wee hours of July 24.

Lawmakers are now apparently determined not to stay late in Parliament. Even though protests also occur in the morning and around noon, the most massive rallies are staged each day at around 7 pm in downtown Sofia.

The planned budget update includes a plan to take a new loan in the amount of BGN 1 B to be used as a buffer for the fiscal reserve in 2014, when Bulgaria must make new payments on its foreign debt. Other funds will be slated for the overdue money for the business and for social measures.

The series of the record-breaking relentless anti-government protests in Bulgaria was triggered by the scandalous appointment of a murky politician and businessman to lead the State Agency for National Security (DANS) back on June 14.

Although the appointment was revoked, the people went on to demand that the Cabinet resign collectively over a string of other controversial appointments and wider concerns about corruption.

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President Obama Angers Small Booksellers With Amazon Speech

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

president obama's amazon speech

President Obama gave a speech at an Amazon.com fulfillment warehouse in Chattanooga, Tennessee yesterday pointing to Amazon as an example of a job creator.

Independent booksellers and small publishers don’t see it that way.  They were angry.  They see the President’s action as supporting a large corporation that they claim has a monopoly, at the expense of small businesses.

In his remarks at the behemoth Amazon warehouse, President Obama said, “I’m calling on our businesses to do more for their workers.  Amazon is a great example of what’s possible.  What you’re doing here at Amazon with your Career Choice Program pays 95 percent of the tuition for employees who want to earn skills in fields with high demand — not just, by the way, jobs here at Amazon, but jobs anywhere –  computer-aided design or nursing.  I talked to Jeff Bezos yesterday, and he was so proud of the fact that he wants to see every employee at Amazon continually upgrade their skills and improve.”

But the independent players in the book publishing industry weren’t buying it.

Dennis Johnson, co-founder of Melville House, an independent publisher located in Brooklyn, New York, wrote with obvious resentment about what he considers Amazon’s near monopoly status, its ability to undercut competitors, lose money and yet on top of that, still get lauded by the President as a champion of jobs.  In a separate piece yesterday on his company’s blog he called the President’s move an “insult added to injury to those of us in the book business.”

The American Booksellers Association, along with the New England Independent Booksellers Association (NEIBA) and the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA), wrote letters to the White House expressing outrage. A Publishers Weekly article quotes excerpts:

NEIBA demanded to know, “What is the thinking behind this decision? . . . [Amazon's] business model is based on fighting those states that have required them to collect and remit sales tax while driving Main Street brick and mortar stores out of business through predatory pricing.”

“We cannot believe this is your vision of job creation and the future of American middle class,” wrote NAIBA. “We would hope your administration would be standing with Main Street, and investigating the monopolistic practices of Amazon, rather than explicitly or tacitly endorsing those practices.”

Just prior to the President’s speech, Amazon announced it is creating 5,000 new jobs at its fulfillment warehouses.  The jobs will pay wages 30% higher than traditional retail jobs, says the Amazon announcement.  According to Geekwire, Amazon’s most recent financials indicate it now has nearly 97,000 employees.  That number is triple what it reported just three years ago.

Amazon plans to release an interview it does with President Obama, as a free Kindle Single today.

Image credit: Whitehouse.gov video still.

The post President Obama Angers Small Booksellers With Amazon Speech appeared first on Small Business Trends.

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Mauritius to Open Honorary Consulate in Bulgaria

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

The Republic of Mauritius will open its honorary consulate in the Bulgarian capital Sofia, the Bulgarian government announced on Thursday.

During its regular meeting the Bulgarian Council of Ministers approved the opening of an honorary consulate of the Republic of Mauritius in Sofia with consular district the territory of Bulgaria, it was announced.

For an honorary consul of Mauritius will be appointed Hristo Iliev, who is currently a chairman of “AG Capital” – Bulgarian Property Business Group board of directors and an executive director of “BDL Asset Management”.

“The opening of the honorary consulate and the appointment of Mr Iliev for an honorary consul will boost the economic and cultural relations between Bulgaria and Mauritius and it will attract foreign investments in our country”, announced the government’s press center.

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Bulgaria’s Govt to Review 83 Bills by End-2013

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Bulgaria’s socialist-led government is expected to adopt a total of 11 new laws by the end of 2013, according to the program of the Cabinet.

The government adopted its program by end-2013 at a regular sitting on Wednesday.

The Cabinet of Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski is to work on 83 bills, including 8 ratifications of international agreements, memoranda and treaties and 11 bills of new laws, the remaining part being bills on amending and supplementing existing laws, according to the government’s press office.

Bills on tourism, on climate change, on plant protection are on the calendar for consideration in summer, while a new Interior Ministry Act and a bill on industrial property representatives are to be reviewed in September.

The bills on the state budget and the budgets of the Public Social Security and the National Health Insurance Fund for 2014, as well as proposals for amendments to tax laws, are to be discussed by the government in September or October.

Bills on school and pre-school education, on the preservation of agricultural and hydromeliorative property, and on branch organizations in agriculture, are to be drafted by end-2013.

The government’s program also includes bills on amending and supplementing the Public Procurement Act, the Law on Pharmaceutical Products in Human Medicine, the Law on Electronic Communications, the Roads Act, the Water Act, the Defense and Armed Forces Act, the Youth Act, the Customs Agency Act, the Law on Protection of Agricultural Land, the Vocational Education and Training Act, the Excise Duties and Tax Warehouses Act, the Law on Support of Agricultural Producers, etc.

Apart from the legal program, the Cabinet’s governing program was also approved on Wednesday.

Without going into details about the paper, the media statement says that that it contains concrete measures and plans in three main areas – economic recovery and encouraging entrepreneurship, employment, solidarity and social justice, and stabilizing statehood.

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Bulgarian Armored Car Robber Sentenced to 8 Years behind Bars

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Georgi Enev, the armored bank car driver, who allegedly pulled off an audacious theft of BGN 1.5 M back in June 2012, has been sentenced to 8 years in jail.

Enev pleaded guilty on Wednesday after his lawyer requested for the trial to be held under the short procedure without witness testimony.

Enev was charged with large-scale embezzlement of BGN 1.5 M from three banks and one security company, which called for 10 to 20 years of jail. He also faced confiscation of part or all of his assets and could be banned from practicing certain professions.

On June 22, 2012, police in Plovdiv were alerted about an abandoned cash transporter, and upon arriving they also found that the vehicle was empty.

The equivalent of BGN 1.5 M in various currencies was missing and the cash transporter’s driver immediately became the suspect. The man was nowhere to be found and his Opel Kadett discovered abandoned some 15 km away from the city of Plovdiv. Several days later, Enev entered the Plovdiv Prosecutor’s Office accompanied by his lawyer.

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Bulgarian MPs Vote Themselves Long Summer Break amid Turmoil

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Bulgaria’s lawmakers will enjoy a summer vacation of no fewer than 32 days, it was made clear on Wednesday.

The Bulgarian Parliament, which convened for the first time in mid-May, will be in summer break starting Monday, August 5. The MPs will be back to work on September 4.

A total of 102 lawmakers voted in favor of the prolonged summer break, while 75 were against and two abstained from voting.

The opposition center-right GERB party opposed the move, which comes amid ongoing massive anti-government protests in Sofia.

The intentions of the Members of the Parliament to go on summer break next Monday prompted a number of protesters to arrive in bathing suits in front of Parliament on Wednesdat. There were even inflatable pools filled with water. The peaceful “beach protest” was briefly marred by a riot police attack, with at least one demonstrator beaten, according to reporters.

Protesters have demanded that the Socialist-led government resign immediately over a string of controversial appointments and wider concerns about corruption.

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Bulgarian MPs Vote Themselves Massive Summer Break amid Turmoil

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Bulgaria’s lawmakers will enjoy a summer vacation of no fewer than 32 days, it was made clear on Wednesday.

The Bulgarian Parliament, which convened for the first time in mid-May, will be in summer break starting Monday, August 5. The MPs will be back to work on September 4.

A total of 102 lawmakers voted in favor of the prolonged summer break, while 75 were against and two abstained from voting.

The opposition center-right GERB party opposed the move, which comes amid ongoing massive anti-government protests in Sofia.

The intentions of the Members of the Parliament to go on summer break next Monday prompted a number of protesters to arrive in bathing suits in front of Parliament on Wednesdat. There were even inflatable pools filled with water. The peaceful “beach protest” was briefly marred by a riot police attack, with at least one demonstrator beaten, according to reporters.

Protesters have demanded that the Socialist-led government resign immediately over a string of controversial appointments and wider concerns about corruption.

Source

Bulgaria’s Economy Minister to Appoint 5th Deputy

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

Bulgarian Economy and Energy Minister Dragomir Stoynev will have one more deputy minister, a fifth one, the government’s press center has announced.

The news was announced after a change in the administration’s structure was approved on Wednesday.

No information concerning the name or responsibilities of the fifth Deputy Minister of Economy was distributed from the government’s press office.

At the moment Bugarian Mninster of Economy and Energy has four deputy ministers with the following responsibilities: Ana Yaneva, in charge of state enterprises and privatization,  Ivan Aylov,in charge of the energy sector, Branimir Botev, in charge of tourism, and Krasyn Dimitrov, in charge of economic reforms and small and medium enterprises growth and development.

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US, Bulgaria Agree on Expanding Partnership in Lawmaking

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

The US Ambassador to the Republic of Bulgaria, Marcie Ries, has held a meeting with the Speaker of the Bulgarian Parliament, Mihail Mikov.

The news was reported by the Parliament’s press office Wednesday.

The two have discussed current issues of bilateral relations between their countries and have confirmed mutual interest in expanding partnership in all sectors, including consolidation of parliamentary contacts and active partnership between the Bulgarian lawmaking institution and the US Embassy in Sofia.

In responding to interest voiced by the American diplomat, Mikov had presented the legislative priorities of Bulgaria’s 42nd General Assembly, stressing on the already passed amendments in the sectors of social policies, youth unemployment, energy, and small and medium enterprises.

He has presented in more detail the currently-debated revision of State budget 2013.

Mikov, a “career MP” and former Interior Minister, has been elected on the ticket of the left-wing Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP.

Meanwhile, Bulgarians have been staging for 48th days now anti-government protests with demands the Socialist-endorsed Cabinet of Prime Minister, Plamen Oresharski, resigns immediately over controversial appointments and dependencies from oligarchs.

Smaller pro-government protests are held daily as well. Recently, participants in them gathered in front of the US Embassy in Sofia to protest against perceived interference in their country’s home affairs and the notorious extradition case of Bulgarian mother Gergana Chervenkova, requested by US prosecutors.

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