PF Urges Power Price Freeze, Anti-Crime Steps Ahead of Talks with GERB

Domestic | October 23, 2014, Thursday // 11:50|  views

VMRO party leader Krasimir Karakachanov. Photo BGNES

Freezing power prices and boosting police presence in regions with high rates of crime attributed to Roma population will be two key demands of Bulgaria’s nationalist coalition Patriotic Front in a new round of talks with GERB on Thursday.

Krasimir Karakachanov, leader of VMRO party that is part of the Patriotic Front, said in an interview for 24 Chasa daily that the potential participation of the PF in a government coalition with centre-right GERB hinges on these two conditions.

PF representatives meet GERB in Sofia at noon time on Thursday in a second round of consultations over formation of a government coalition following October 5 early elections in which GERB won most votes but remained short of outright majority.

GERB has 84 of the 240 in the 43rd National Assembly that is scheduled to hold its first meeting on October 27. The PF have 19 seats, which makes them the fifth-largest group out of the eight parties and coalitions that passed the 4% threshold to enter parliament.

Bulgaria’s energy regulator DKEVR raised power prices by 9.8% on average as of 1 October in a bid to help troubled National Electricity Company (NEK) reduce huge deficits on its balance sheet and stay afloat. The previous price hike, by an average of 2%, took effect on July 1. Raising electricity prices is a sensitive issue in Bulgaria, the EU’s poorest member state, where power bills account for a considerable portion of households’spending.

Karakachanov also said the PF will push for an overall review of price formation in the energy sector .

“Why are we exporting cheap electricity generated by Kozloduy [nuclear power plant] and Maritza East 2 [coal fired power plant] while here we are buying expensive power from [coal fired] Maritza East 1 and Maritza East 3?” Karakachanov said.

“Let’s have it the other way round and lower the profitability rate of the latter ones.”

Kozloduy and Maritza East 2 are state-owned, while Maritsa East 1 is owned by US-based AES Corporation. Maritsa East 3 is majority owned by another US-based company, ContourGlobal .

According to Karakachanov, the long-term power purchase agreements with the US investors can’t be an obstacle to defending Bulgaria’s national interests.

Referring to burglaries of homes of mostly elderly people in remote villages across Bulgaria widely blamed on Roma population living there, Karakachanov urged police to introduce round-the-clock video surveillance in those areas rather than sporadically send patrols which usually are unable to find the perpetrators.

 “It is intolerable to leave a Bulgarian pensioner, who had paid his bills and social insurance for 45 years, to be robbed by our Roma brethren,” Karakachanov said.

The PF also demands that Bulgarian nationals residing in Turkey, who have the right to vote in parliamentary elections in Bulgaria, cast ballots only in polling stations opened in the Bulgarian embassy and consular offices in the neighbouring country. The move will aim to prevent potential voting fraud suspected to favour Bulgaria’s mainly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) which draws large portion of its support from Bulgarian expats living in Turkey.



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Tags: Patriotic Front, Karakachanov, GERB, consultations, government coalition, VMRO


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