Bulgaria elections 2017: Energy and water regulator chief takes vow of silence

The head of Bulgaria’s Energy and Water Regulatory Commission said on March 9 that he would make no public statements until after the early parliamentary elections, to avoid politicising the work of the regulator.

Ivan Ivanov said that any statement by the head of the commission could be “interpreted incorrectly” and given political aspects.

For this reason, and to protect the authority of the commission, he would make no public statements until the March 26 elections.

Ivanov declined to comment on whether the price of water in the capital would rise by 18 per cent, a matter that remained unresolved on February 27.

The commission also faces a decision whether to comply with a request from Bulgargaz for the price of natural gas to increase by 32 per cent as of April 1 2017.

In recent Bulgarian political history, cost-of-living issues have been at the forefront a number of times, notably in February 2013, when high electricity bills were used as a catalyst to mobilise public protests against the government of the time. That government, headed by Boiko Borissov, stepped down after a night that saw incidents of violence in Sofia.

Among nationalist and populist parties in Bulgaria, the foreign-owned energy distribution companies are a favourite target, while in the March elections, a number of political parties and coalitions have included various cost-of-living matters in their platforms, pledging to reduce the strain on Bulgarians’ pockets.

There have been numerous changes of the head of the regulator in recent years. There were five changes in the turbulent year of 2013 alone.

Angel Semerdzhiev, appointed in September 2009, was dismissed in February 2013 by the Borissov government. He was replaced by Yuliana Ivanova, who resigned after four days after it emerged that she had a company illicitly trading online in cigarettes. In March 2013, Evgenia Haritonova was appointed, and in June 2013, was replaced by Anzhela Toneva. December 2013 brought the appointment of Boyan Boev, by the “Oresharski” government.

Boev was asked to resign in August 2014 and the caretaker cabinet of the time, headed by Georgi Bliznashki, appointed Svetla Todorova in his stead.

The current incumbent, Ivanov, was elected by Parliament in April 2015, under amendments to the law that provided for the utilities regulatory head to be elected by the National Assembly, not appointed by the Cabinet.

(Screenshot via BNT)




The Sofia Globe staff

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