Only four Bulgarian regions - Sofia - city, Sofia - region, Vidin and Kyustendil remain in the "yellow" Covid-19 zone with 20-60 newfound infections per 100,000 population this week, data from the National Viral and Parasitic Diseases Center shows. This means that the Delta variant of the virus has not taken a foothold in the least vaccinated EU country - for the time being at least.
In pre-election news, the Internal Ministry announced it has taken 669 people into custody for 24 hours in connection with vote-buying schemes. It has also issued close to 4,800 warnings to people who allegedly "influenced the electoral process illicitly".
Unicredit Bulbank revises GDP growth prediction upwards
The Bulgarian branch of the Italian bank has revised its prognosis for post-pandemic growth and now expects GDP to go up 4,4 percent in 2021, compared to a previous prediction of only 2,6 percent growth. For 2022, the anticipated rate of economic growth is 4,1 percent. "The main risk for the realization of this positive scenario is linked to a potential new wave of the coronavirus in the winter," the head economist of the bank in Bulgaria, Kristofor Pavlov, said. Unicredit Bulbank expects a 2,6 percent overall annual inflation rate this year.
Second audit shows Vassil Bozhkov's lottery companies dodged 275 mln. Euro in taxes
Another investigation into the work of the State Gambling Commission (SGC) between 2014-2019 found that the state budget had incurred 275 mln.euro worth of losses because SGC unlawfully reduced tax rates for four companies linked to exiled mogul Vassil "the Skull" Bozhkov.
The companies - New Games AD, National Lottery AD, Eurofootball OOD and Eurobet OOD - did not pay the 15 percent tax on gambling bets because of an "alternative arrangement" that significantly lowered the amount owed to the state. Mr Bozhkov's companies have disputed the conclusions of the previous audit - completed in 2020 - in court.
Experts include more Black Sea land within Natura 2000 zones
The National Council on Biodiversity to the Environmental Ministry has unanimously approved adding more territory to three Black Sea territories that are part of the Natura 2000 network, so that nearby lands will also be included in the nature protection area.
The three zones include territories close to the Galata beach near Varna, Shkorpilovtsi beach between Varna and Burgas, and the Ropotamo area south of Burgas.
The rules governing the use of the expanded zones - mostly forests and agricultural lands - will remain the same. But including these extra territories in the Natura 2000 network would additionally safeguard them from changing their status and allowing real estate development. The final decision over including the lands in the protected network has to be taken by the executive.