Bulgarian Businessman Tables Fuel Prices Referendum

Domestic | May 4, 2016, Wednesday // 08:16|  views

Businessman Veselin Mareshki as he is submitting more signatures to back his referendum petition on May 03, 2016. Photo: BGNES

A Varna-based delivered on Tuesday some 100 000 additional signatures in an effort to make his 5-point referendum compulsory.

Veselin Mareshki, who says he will be running for President in the autumn, tabled a proposal earlier this year to hold a second poll with five questions, following the one by TV show host Slavi Trifonov which Parliament had approved.

Mareshki, who had initially submitted just above 400 000 civic signatures (the threshold making it mandatory for Parliament to set a date for a referendum), was told by civil register only 310 078 of those were valid.

However, if 90 000 the new list of signatures delivered on Tuesday turn out valid, MPs will have to approve and schedule yet another nationwide poll.

The pharmaceutical entrepreneur, who also owns petrol stations, maintains the citizens should have a say on five issues.

These include:

- the introduction of state regulation in the fuels market to ensure lower end prices;

- a removal of a restriction of a person to own more than four pharmacies across the country to make the market more competitive and also lower end prices;

- an end to state subsidies for parties and coalitions;

- a reduction of the number of MPs;

- a revocation of lawmakers' immunity from criminal prosecution.

Two of these largely overlap with Trifonov's questions. Both want to see the number of MPs cut in half (to 120, down from 240) and a change in rules for state subsidies allocated annually to parties and coalitions that gained above 1% in the last general election. However, while Trifonov is asking whether it should be slashed to BGN 1 per vote received by the respective party or coalition, Mareshki would like to see subsidies abolished at all.

Mareshki, who also owns petrol stations, made headlines over the past months by offering fuels at prices that are considerably lower than those offered by competitors. At a time when the standard diesel price was nearly BGN 1.90 (EUR 0.95) per liter, his was around BGN 1.60.   

Ever since, he has argued the state should intervene to place a cap on fuel prices to avoid further abuse, and has alleged free marketeers warning against his proposal are being paid by the industry.

He has described his actions as a means to fight a cartel existing in the fuels market, where prices have remained steady even against the background of a global slump in oil prices (but tend to rise substantially when global prices are up, amidst events such as the beginning of the Arab Spring).

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Tags: Veselin Mareshki, Referendum, oil, fuels, petrol station, Varna, Slavi Trifonov, pharmacies


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