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BULGARIA


  
  

 

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Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 19,859 15,608 13,600 69
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 2,130 1,790 1,650 106
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 130 - (26/03/08)

The renewed Bulgaria
In June 2005, Bulgarian voters renewed the National Assembly. The Coalition for Bulgaria (KzB)-which included the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP)-secured 82 seats, followed by the National Movement Simeon II (NDSV) with 53 lawmakers. In August, the two main parties, along with the Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), agreed to set-up a coalition administration with Socialist leader Sergei Stanishev as prime minister. 

In October 2007, the Bulgarian government survived a no-confidence motion tabled by the opposition in the legislature on the basis that it had failed to properly fund the education system. The 160-61 vote came after a long teacher's strike, and was the third no-confidence motion that the Stanishev administration has faced since taking office. 

The popularity of Premier Stanishev has slightly increased this year, according to a poll by Alpha Research. 46 per cent of respondents have a positive opinion of Stanishev's performance, up three points since December. 

Problems with Brussels
Last year, along with Romania, Bulgaria officially joined the European Union (EU). There are those that think this was a premature development, because the EU lost a lot of leverage over the transition process in both states, marred by crime and corruption.

However, Brussels still has some leverage in dispensing funds, whether as aid or credit. On March 7, the European Commission suspended funds worth about US $77 million destined for programmes in Bulgaria following a series of reports warning of corruption and mismanagement of EU funds. 

Bulgarian deputy finance minister Dimitar Ivanovski announced the decision. Stanishev discussed the issue, saying, "These are not corruption accusations but specific cases, flaws or difficulties."

Key coalition meeting 
A meeting of the Political Council of Bulgaria's governing three-party coalition took place in the southern town of Hisarya in early March. Stanishev, as leader of the National Movement Simeon II (NMS II); Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and Ahmed Dogan, the leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms /MRF/, are the natural mouthpieces of the coalition. Stanishev held a press conference. The three parties talked about the government's updated programme and priorities by the end of its term in office, and cabinet reshuffle.

The coalition again bid for re-election - Ahmed Dogan hinted that the coalition had strength not only to finish its term in office, but also to win a second one. The three-party coalition discussed the government's objectives up to 2013 when the EU budget and the government's possible second term in office finish.

Uniting the energy sector
"The Bulgarian government declared itself to be for the establishment of a Bulgarian Energy Holding that will unite the energy sector," Prime Minister Sergey Stanishev said at the press conference.

"The Holding will be comprised of 5 companies, including Maritsa East mines, Bulgargaz Holding, Maritsa East 2 TPP, Kozloduy NPP, and NEK. After the consolidation the assets of the holding will be EUR 4 billion, while the expected annual revenue will be EUR 1,8 billion," Stanishev added.

"The coalition has political will to lift the license regimes. A total of 26 license regimes will be lifted," he noted. 

Other priorities:
Healthcare and education are also among the government's priorities. "We have implemented many concrete reforms in the field of education, which encourages us to press ahead," said Stanishev. "Special attention will be paid to vocational education. The equipment in vocational schools should be updated, which means more funding will be allotted," he noted. As for health care, Stanishev stipulated measures the government will undertake in the area: restructuring hospital assistance, privatization, "We have implemented many concrete reforms in the field of education, which encourages us to press ahead," said Stanishev.

"Special attention will be paid to vocational education. The equipment in vocational schools should be updated, which means more funding will be allotted," he noted.

" I witnessed the most serious discussion about healthcare in Bulgaria," Stanishev said, adding the measures the government will undertake in the area: restructuring hospital assistance, privatization, concessions, public and private partnership, introduction of management contracts, increase in financing through de-monopolization, establishment of guarantee and solidarity fund, a code of ethics of health insurance funds, introduction of electronic healthcare cards, and others.

The PM said all proposals would be widely discussed with doctors, NGOs and patients. "I am an optimist; the government's updated programme is ambitious, but achievable," PM Stanishev indicated.

"We aim not only to put a happy end to the coalition's term in office, as Mr. Dogan has said, but also to do work in all essential areas," the PM commented. He described the programme they had discussed as modern, because it has to give basic and clear objectives to improve Bulgarians' quality of life. "On the basis of the government's programme we will work out concrete plans in every sector," Stanishev added. "The internal unity the two-day discussion resulted in will give us political energy to achieve our tasks," he noted.

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