Bulgaria to seek EU funding for state aid for hotels housing Ukrainian refugees

Bulgaria will seek European Union funding for the state aid for hoteliers who have accommodated Ukrainian refugees registered as asylum seekers in the country, Tourism Minister Hristo Prodanov told Bulgarian National Radio on March 14.

Prodanov said that the funding would initially come from the Tourism Ministry’s budget “and then we will look for an opportunity to cover these funds under European solidarity”.

He was confident that there would be agreement.

Bulgaria’s government was waiting for the EU directive so that it could comply with the rules set in it, Prodanov said.

“One of the points in it is precisely that it gives countries that have provided shelter to refugees the opportunity to apply for funding,” he said.

Prodanov said that the aid covered three months and the amount to be spent would depend on how many people would have to be catered for. The allocation is 40 leva per person per day.

He said that tourist tax was a local one, not set by the state, so it was up to municipalities to make their own decisions whether to reduce or cancel it for places of accommodation housing refugees.

Accommodating those fleeing the war in Ukraine in hotels and guest houses was not a long-term option, but was the only one currently enabling a quick response to help them, Prodanov said.

About 80 per cent of those arriving from Ukraine wanted to get jobs in Bulgaria, he said.

“Most are women with children, so they need to be provided with opportunities for kindergartens so that they can work,” he said.

Prodanov said that the Polish and Romanian tourist markets could serve as an alternative to the Russian and Ukrainian ones that Bulgaria had lost.

In other news in Bulgaria related to Putin’s war on Ukraine:

Drivers of heavy lorries transporting grain blocked the road in front of the Kulata border checkpoint, claiming that there was a verbal order to delay grain loads, which are being checked not only by customs and the Border Police, but also by National Revenue Agency staff.

According to Bulgarian National Radio, the queue of lorries in front of the border checkpoint was more than five kilometres long on the morning of March 14.

Drivers claimed that the processing of documents and cargo was taking more than an hour, and was being artificially slowed.

They alleged that an order had been given to let through no more than one lorry an hour.

Bulgaria’s government has responded to allegations of an export ban by insisting that no such ban is in place, but checks are being carried out to ensure that exports comply with regulations.

Kaufland Bulgaria said in a statement on its website on March 14 that a discount sale of sunflower oil planned for this coming Saturday had been cancelled.

This followed uproar at many of its branches this past weekend as throngs of customers responded to a promotional sale of sunflower oil. Reports said that some customers had got into fights.

The retailer said that the sale this past weekend had been planned long before the market situation had become more complicated because of the tense international situation.

It said that after careful analysis of the situation and in order to prevent tension, the planned sale of sunflower oil at a price of 3.69 leva a litre that had been planned for March 19 had been called off.

Bulgaria’s Consumer Protection Commission said on March 14 that it had carried out more than 350 inspections at retail outlets to check whether retailers were selling sunflower oil at pre-announced prices.

These included goods offered in various promotions, discounts, announced through brochures, online and in television advertisements, the commission said.

State Commission on Commodity Exchanges and Markets data on March 14 showed that sunflower oil in a one-litre plastic bottle was being traded at a price of 4.66 leva per piece .  

The Consumer Protection Commission said that after gathering and carefully reviewing all required documents, decisions on sanctions would be made.

The commission said that there could be no doubt that there were no shortages of goods.

“Therefore, let people keep their composure, shop wisely and not rush to stock up. When we stock up on some promotional products, it does not always mean that we shop wisely,” the commission said.

Earlier on March 14, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Kiril Petkov assured Bulgarians that the government was working in a co-ordinated manner to limit the effects of inflation and called on them not to panic and stockpile products.

The Bulgarian government has set up a website to assist Ukrainians, and to provide information to those in Bulgaria who want to help: ukraine.gov.bg. The website has versions in Ukrainian, English, Bulgarian and Russian.

The Bulgarian Red Cross announced on February 28 the details of the bank account that it had opened, in co-ordination with the government, to raise funds to assist humanitarian efforts in Ukraine.

To donate to the UNHCR’s efforts, please click here.

(Photo: Marcelo Gerpe/freeimages.com)

For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, please click here.

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The Sofia Globe staff

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