Govt Allows Bulgarian Posts to Sell 15 PropertiesDomestic | October 5, 2011, Wednesday // 17:24| views
Photo by BGNES
The Bulgarian government has approved the sale of 15 properties of the state-owned company Bulgarian Posts EAD, according to a Wednesday statement of the government's press office.
The buildings are located in Sofia, Varna, Burgas, Vratsa, Nesebar, Yambol, Blagoevgrad, Apriltsi, etc.
The properties can no longer serve their original intended purpose and Bulgarian Posts cannot keep them in good condition.
"Covering repair and maintenance costs for these buildings will require investments which Bulgarian Posts cannot provide", the announcement says.
According to the Cabinet's press office, the majority of the sites have been closed for years, while those still in operation incur more expenses than revenues.
Taxes and fees for all the properties are paid on a regular basis, with many of them incurring security costs.
The sale is expected to supply much-needed revenue to the company whose financial condition has been deteriorating.
The Bulgarian Parliament is to approve on second reading amendments to the Privatization and Post Privatization Control Act allowing the Privatization Agency to sell the company.
At present, the state-owned provider of postal services is on the no-privatizaton list.
The amendments to the privatization law were tabled and adopted on the last day of June by the economic committee in parliament with the votes of MPs from the ruling GERB party.
They were harshly criticized by the opposition Socialist party, the right-wing Union of Democratic Forces, who were until recently an ally of the ruling party, but not any more, and representatives of the trade unions, who saw them as the first step towards the company's privatization and serving hidden interests.
"We believe that behind the privatization of "Bulgarian Posts" there are hidden personal interests and a plot hatched in advance. We will not support it. There are enough other companies, which are slated for privatization and with a good reason, such as Bulgartabac and the Bulgarian Stock Exchange," UDF leader Martin Dimitrov said at a press conference.
According to him the ruling party will make a grave mistake if it proceeds with the postal services privatization as it would have serious consequences.
"GERB missed the opportunity to carry out the much needed reforms. We supported them at the beginning because we wanted to see those reforms implemented, but two years later, there are no results," said Dimitrov, referring to the second anniversary since the cabinet of Boyko Borisov stepped into office.
Trade unionists say that about 5,000 people will be left without a job should the company be sold.
The controversy comes about half a year after Bulgaria's parliament approved amendments, which de-monopolized the postal services market.
Thus, as of January 1, 2011, the monopoly of Bulgarian Posts on small parcels – less than 50grams – was eliminated.
At the same time, the law assigned to the state company the universal postal services in the country for a period of 15 years based on the fact that Bulgarian Posts is the only entity in Bulgaria which has the infrastructure to provide these kinds of services. Their performance will be inspected and evaluated every 5 years.
Postal Services would remain the main operator for the entire country for the next 15 years and would be subsidized by the State budget when they incur "unjust financial burdens."
The initial plan was to open the market in the beginning of 2009, but on the concerns of the Posts that private competition would take over its most lucrative segments, it was postponed by 2 years.
The amendments were prompted by an EU directive, providing for the full liberalization of postal markets in Member States by the end of 2012.
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