Bulgaria’s Cabinet authorised on March 9 the Agriculture Ministry to spend 1.1 billion leva (about 562 million euro) on buying wheat, sunflower and corn for the State Reserve, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev told a news conference.
Bulgaria has not banned exports of these goods, he said.
Agriculture Minister Ivan Ivanov said that the purchase of grain would take place on a market basis, through the Sofia Commodity Exchange.
The news conference was told that Bulgaria has a stock of three million tons of wheat, with 300 000 tons in the State Reserve.
The intention is to buy 1.1 million tons.
Together, state and private warehouses in Bulgaria have capacity for 14 million tons of wheat.
Prime Minister’s chief of staff and government spokesperson Lena Borislavova said that the Cabinet had discussed sunflower oil prices because these had risen sharply in the past two days, which could not be explained by a lack of raw materials or stocks.
Economy Minister Kornelia Ninova said that a price of five leva for a litre of sunflower oil was speculation, given that the production price was two leva.
Ninova said that sunflower oil producers were holding back quantities in anticipation of exporting at higher prices, or in anticipation of price increases.
“We will not allow a few people to become millionaires in a few days and nights on the back of Bulgarian citizens,” Ninova said.
She said that the Consumer Protection Commission would be contacted to carry out inspections.
“Today’s claim that the suspension of sunflower seed exports from Ukraine and Russia is one of the reasons for the rise in prices is unfounded. In Bulgaria we currently have 1.5 million tons of sunflower seeds, which is enough for four and a half years of oil production,” Ninova said.
“There is no shortage of raw materials,” she said.
“We will not allow speculation to blackmail the Bulgarian people in these difficult times of crisis,” Ninova said.
Borislavova said that accelerated inclusion of Ukrainian citizens in Bulgaria’s labour market would be implemented.
Short-term humanitarian aid of up to 40 leva a day would be provided for three months.
This measure would also support the Bulgarian tourism sector, with hotels and other places of accommodation expecting an outflow of tourists.
Vassilev said that there were about 30 000 Ukrainian refugees in Bulgaria, who should apply for protected status by March 31 in order to receive assistance.
Responding to a question, Borislavova said that Bulgaria would not send fighter jets to Ukraine.
This was a decision supported by the Cabinet, but it was not discussed at today’s meeting, she said.
(Photo: Andreas Krappweis/sxc.hu)
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