Fuel trade in Bulgaria causing tensions once again

Photo: BGNES

The National Association of Merchants and Carriers of Fuels, which includes nearly 100 companies, is starting a protest of the "yellow vests" this week. Rallies are planned to take place in all major cities. Border crossing points will be also blocked, spokesperson Simo Simov told BNR. "People are desperate as the yare fighting for their bread," he said.

Tensions are provoked by the Fuel Act that is due to come into force at the end of January. According to Mr. Simov, it placed unachievable requirements and a number of barriers to smaller entrepreneurs in the industry. That is why the Association has described the new law as “corrupt” and as "lobbying" in favor of big companies. For small businesses, the requirement for 10225.84 EUR of authorized share capital and another 10 thousand as a bank guarantee, as well as the requirement for having 10,000 gas filling bottles, would be great a burden and would mean higher expenses.

The Association has been calling for suspension of the law and for starting a trial over the order for its implementation. A complaint has also been filed with the European Commission for violation of anti-trust legislation.

"Protesting has become a major form of democratic participation in Bulgaria recently, as institutional mechanisms of political participation are blocked when you do not have a party to protect your particular interests. Institutions are obviously choked in the constant battle between different business lobbies, trying to influence them," political analyst Strahil Deliyski said in an interview with the Bulgarian National Radio. He added that the Bulgarian "yellow vests" would not be like the French ones and expressed concerns that attempts would be made to use the protest for political purposes.

"The vast majority of the population is alarmed by corruption levels as well as by  the socio-economic situation. A positive new political proposal must take into account the fact that the current system in Bulgaria, the way it has been constructed, could not produce results others than deepening inequalities and redistribution of public resources towards minorities at the expense of the vast majority of people," Delyiski said. According to him, people in Bulgaria seem to have got used to government not acting by virtue of strategic political vision but by reacting in the wake of wishes of certain social groups. The political powers have been using these social divisions and the lack of conceptual political arguments makes it possible for any governmental decision to be disputed.

According to the political scientist, upcoming protests and demands open up a series of questions like: why have cars become a major means of transportation to work?; the situation in public transport, the disproportion of economic development, etc.

"At this point, a trigger like raising taxes on old cars, fuel excises, etc. could cause a chain reaction that would lead to an explosion,” Strahil Delyiski told BNR.

Editor: Elena Karkalanova

English: Alexander Markov

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