Bulgarian Right-Wing Leader Demands 20% Gas Price Cut from GERB Govt

Domestic | March 20, 2012, Tuesday // 17:09|  views

UDF leader Martin Dimitrov has called for a new regulatory policy that would curb the power of monopolies in Bulgaria. Photo by BGNES

Martin Dimitrov, leader of the right-wing Union of Democratic Forces (UDF), has accused the centre-right GERB government of being a passive, helpless observer to the high prices of fuels, food products and pharmaceuticals in Bulgaria.

Speaking after a Tuesday session of theNational Council of the UDF, the right-wing leader stressed the importance of an urgent adoption of a regulatory policy that would eliminate state protection for monopolies against competition.

"In the conditions of an economic crisis, GERB have left the governance of the state in the hands of monopolies and cartels that maintain high prices and ruin the small and middle-sized enterprises," Dimitrov stated.

The rightist leader noted that while ministers were touring grocery stores to check prices out of sheer populism, unemployment was climbing on a daily basis to the effect that every second Bulgarian was on the dole, according to unofficial statistics.

The UDF Chair explained that a growing number of Bulgarians were living below the poverty line and that destitution had become an aspect of everyday life.

He argued that the healthcare reform championed by ruling party GERB had turned out as an absolute failure, while mobile operators persisted with the automatic renewal of contracts despite the newly adopted legal amendments.

The right-wing leader suggested a host of measures to remedy the situations.

The UDF Chair insisted first and foremost on the adoption of amendments to the Law on Protection of Competition aimed at curtailing the power of monopolies.

The UDF leader also called for a clear-cut definition of the concept of dominant position and for the preparation of systemic analyses by the Commission on Protection of Competition (KZK) of sectors characterized by monopolistic or dominant positions.

Dimitrov argued that the antitrust watchdog and the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) were failing to execute their duties properly and the Chairs and the personnel of the two bodies had to be changed.

He went on to demand a liberalized fuel import regime that would create competitive market conditions and bring a reduction in prices of diesel and gasoline.

The rightist leader suggested that the government had to seek a mandate from Parliament regarding the parameters of the new gas supply contract and added that the UDF would only consider a discount of no less than 20% as a success.

He went on to highlight the importance of transparent pricing mechanisms for pharmaceuticals so as to make them universally affordable for Bulgarians.

Dimitrov was adamant in his demand for penalties for mobile operators that fail to comply with the new legal provisions and obstruct number portability and the termination of subscription contracts.

Asked whether the UDF had prepared a strategy about its participation in the 2013 parliamentary elections, Martin Dimitrov claimed that the UDF and the Blue Coalition [comprising the right-wing Union of the Democratic Forces (UDF) and the Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB)] were the "most predictable political formations in Bulgaria" and vowed that they would not hold talks with the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) party and the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).

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Tags: Martin Dimitrov, Union of Democratic Forces, Democrats for Strong Bulgaria, Blue Coalition, GERB government, monopolies, mobile operators, gas prices, fuel prices, Commission on Protection of Competition, KZK, CRC, Communications Regulation Commission, Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS, Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, parliamentary elections


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