On Thursday, caretaker Energy Minister Rosen Hristov told reporters that the cabinet expects the Bulgarian-Greek gas connection to be put into operation by the start of September, but there is still no confirmation from the construction company if this will be possible. He added that he will meet representatives of the construction company finalizing the project on Friday and will clarify the schedule for the completion of the gas link. In other news:
State gas company to receive 800 million BGN loan from the state: Hristov
At the same briefing, Energy Minister Hristov announced that the Council of Ministers has decided to allocate a 800 million BGN loan to fill the liquidity hole in the state-owned gas company, Bulgargaz. The state will seek ways to help Bulgargaz refinance the loan as quickly as possible from private banks, Mr Hristov added. He explained that, besides Sofia district heating company, which owes "hundreds of millions" to Bulgargaz (300 million BGN as of this year), other district heating companies are starting to delay their payments, hampered by the increasingly expensive gas. "More and more of Bulgargaz's customers are having difficulties paying," Mr Hristov said. Another problem, he added, was that more and more suppliers wanted all dues to be paid in advance, increasing the company's need for capital reserves.
Six parties look set to enter next Parliament and replicate previous division
With six parties appearing shoo-ins for entry into the next parliament after the 2 October elections, it is almost certain that the division between "reformist" and "status-quo" parties from the previous National Assembly will persist. This was announced by Dobromir Zhivkov, head of the Market Links polling agency on Thursday. According to his agency's latest results, GERB will win the vote with 22.4 percent, followed by WCC (19.1 percent), MRF (11.5 percent), which pips BSP on 10.9 percent. Anti-systemic Vazrazhdane and pro-Western Democratic Bulgaria would score around 8.4 and 8.3 percent of the vote, respectively. According to Mr Zhivkov, polling data shows that the overall result of WCC and Democratic Bulgaria would likely be higher if the two formations run separately in the vote - contrary to proposals coming from the smaller party in recent weeks.
Cabinet adopts plan for the next steps in Bulgaria's OECD application
On Thursday, the caretaker government adopted a decree defining the organizational and coordination aspects of Bulgaria's negotiations for membership in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Last week, the caretaker cabinet annulled the previous government's decision on administrative grounds. On 25 August, the Inter-Ministerial Coordination Mechanism will meet for the first time so that a draft memorandum can be prepared by the beginning of September, which, in turn, is part of the roadmap for Bulgaria's accession to the organization, approved in June. In the memorandum Bulgaria will self-assess what it has achieved so far and what it has to do in all areas linked to the country's application. Plans are to submit the document to the OECD in November.