Not only was this week low on news, but I had to weed out lots of BS news unlike any other week thus far.
President Rossen Plevneliev praised disaster relief volunteering and called for political courage and reforms in 2015 in his New Year’s address to the nation. EN
Interior Minister Vesselin Vuchkov admitted Tuesday that the Interior Ministry cannot cope on its own with the refugee wave at the Bulgarian-Turkish border and asked the Ministry of Defence for help. EN
President Plevneliev congratulated Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff, a Brazilian politician of Bulgarian origin, on the start of her second term in office on Thursday. EN
Corruption, Justice, Crime and Incidents
The cold and snowy weather in North Bulgaria took 3 victims on Tuesday: 1) A patient died in an ambulance stuck in the snow on the road; 2) A man died in his car in the snowdrifts, and 3) A 90-year-old man, living alone, died in the yard of his house, trapped by the snow. EN
2 of the 3 men convicted for the murder of a 20-year-old student in 2008 went missing. Following the ruling of the Supreme Court of Cassation from December 22nd, prosecutors ordered the Security Guard of the Judicial Authority Bodies to take the 3 men to prison, but only 1 was found at his (home) address, while the other 2 had gone missing. EN
The market share of illicit trading in cigarettes in Bulgaria increased in 2014 to 20%, translating into about half a billion levs (250 million EUR) in lost government revenue from taxes and excise duty, a study conducted by the Center for the Study of Democracy, a Sofia-based NGO, showed. EN
GDP growth rate in the Q3 2014 was +1.5% compared with the same quarter of the previous year and +0.4%, compared with Q2 2014, preliminary data of the National Statistical Institute (NSI) showed. EN
In December 2014, the total business climate indicator decreased by 1.1% on November, NSI data showed. EN
Government claimed Tuesday that the country paid more than 8.3 billion EUR under programs with European funding for the period 2007-2013. 6 billion EUR (or 76.7% of the total sum) were received under the operational programs co-financed by the structural and cohesion funds, while under the programs related to the funds for agriculture and fisheries some 2.4 billion EUR (or 74.3% of the total sum) were paid. EN Real data can be found here.
Government paid over 500 000 EUR for 8 new luxurious Audi limousines, which are to transport ministers, foreign delegations and high-class guests, and for 12 new automobiles Opel Astra for the state bodyguards. EN
As of January 1, 2015: 1) the minimum wage became 180 EUR 2) the length of service needed for retirement increased by 4 months. Government will continue to spend more in 2015, because the estimated revenues will be lower than the expenditures, according to forecasts. EN For full list of what entered into force in Bulgaria on 1st of January, 2015, see my comment here.
700 new employees of “Border Police” will be recruited by the Ministry of Interior and transported by the Ministry of Defence to guard the border with Turkey. The construction of the fence with a length of 131 kilometres along that border will also be completed, Deputy PM Meglena Kuneva, Interior Minister Veselin Vuchkov and Defense Minister Nikolay Nenchev announced on Tuesday. EN
The U.S. does not intend to deploy tanks or armoured vehicles in Bulgaria, Commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges confirmed on Wednesday. EN
Employees from all prisons in the country protested on Monday, demanding their salaries be levelled with those of the servicemen of the Ministry of the Interior. EN
All Bulgarian nationals, who travelled onboard the Norman Atlantic ferryboat, were rescued. EN
Unemployment rate in Q3 2014 was 10.8%. Employment was 49.3%. The average salary in September was 420 EUR – 3.4% more on the previous month, NSI data showed. EN
31% of Bulgarians were happy, while 15% felt sad or very miserable in 2014. However, 49% said they feel neither happy nor unhappy, the End of Year Survey by WIN/Gallup International showed. EN
About 63,000 babies were born in Bulgaria in 2014, which is ~1 600 more than those born in 2013 and nearly the number of babies born in 1997, Ministry of Health reported. EN Nonetheless, nearly 2000 babies were abandoned in 2014, the main reasons being poverty and problems in education, the Deputy Minister of Youth and Sports and former director of the State Agency for Child Protection Kalin Kamenov announced Saturday. EN
The first baby born in Cyprus in 2015 was of Bulgarian parents. EN
350 000-400 000 Bulgarians travelled abroad for the Christmas and New Year holidays, the Association of Bulgarian Tour Operators and Travel Agents reported. EN
Events & Celebrations