After a three-hour debate, the National Assembly amended the moratorium imposed yesterday. The prices of electricity, water, and heating for household consumers will be frozen at today’s levels and will not be raised until March 31, 2022. The moratorium will enter into force after its publication in the State Gazette.
The changes were adopted by 138 votes to 4, with 2 abstentions. Three deputies from GERB-SDS and one from “There Is Such a People” voted “against”, and two from Democratic Bulgaria – “abstained”. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) and the other GERB-SDS deputies did not take part in the vote.
Yesterday, MPs froze the prices of electricity, heating, and water to their levels from January 1, 2021. The proposal of GERB-SDS was adopted by 186 votes “for”, 2 “against” and 2 “abstained”. With “against” voted two deputies from “We Continue the Change”, and with “abstained” – one from the WCC and DB. The PG of DPS did not participate in the voting.
An hour later, the director of the Prime Minister’s cabinet Lena Borislavova told the Council of Ministers that the moratorium was a “semantic contradiction” and said the newly formed parliamentary committee on the energy crisis would decide whether to re-vote. Immediately after the vote yesterday, an extraordinary meeting of the newly formed commission for the energy crisis was convened. The deputies decided to propose an amendment to the moratorium.
“Banana Republic” or “Republic of the Speaker of the Council of Ministers”
The chairman of the parliamentary group of “We Continue to Change” Andrei Gyurov proposed an amendment to the moratorium, because “yesterday’s decision did not take into account that the last approved prices are from July 1, 2021 and so we risk a dangerous legal precedent to change prices retrospectively.” He suggested that prices for household consumers be frozen at today’s levels to give peace of mind to households during the winter heating season.
The discussion continued with a series of procedural tricks and accusations by GERB. Toma Bikov reiterated Desislava Atanasova’s thesis that the proposal was made under the influence of the government, in particular by Lena Borislavova or Prime Minister Kiril Petkov. This thesis was supported by the former Minister of Energy of GERB Temenuzhka Petkova, according to whom “the parliament becomes a rubber seal of the executive power”.
“We are no longer a prime minister’s republic, we have become a republic of the spokesman for the Council of Ministers,” said Manoil Manev of GERB, explaining: “Yesterday, after we adopted the moratorium, telephones started ringing somewhere.”
“I see that you follow in the footsteps of BSP. The Bulgarian Socialist Party can only bankrupt you,” Bikov told WCC. Georgi Svilenski from BSP countered that GERB has led the country to bankruptcy and to a situation in which businesses and households cannot pay for their electricity. He clarified that BSP has not implemented a moratorium and that BSP has not proposed a price freeze on January 1, 2021. Bikov replied that “BSP’s caretaker government” has ruled for seven months, and so far has not taken any measures for the energy sector
“Let BSP share their ideas, but don’t listen to them, because we will end up with some kind of winter again,” he said ironically, recalling the Videnov Winter (1996/1997) of hyperinflation.
Manol Genov called on those of those present in the hall who do not participate in renewable energy sources (RES) to stand up. His proposal was welcomed by GERB-SDS deputies, who rose from their seats.
Ramadan Atalay from DPS joined in with the words that with yesterday’s decision the deputies have brought the country to the level of a “banana republic”.
“You colleagues created a crisis yesterday and continue today,” he said, addressing MPs:
“I don’t know how you read the moratoriums at Harvard, but that means there’s no other solution. There are at least 17 other solutions to the case.”
The new proposals
Delyan Dobrev from GERB-SDS suggested that the decision should not apply to the determination of the estimated prices related to the pricing of RES. “Thus, RES with preferential prices will not be oversubsidized, because their subsidy depends on the difference between the forecast and their preferential price. They will continue to receive BGN 350 per megawatt-hour, and after January this difference will become even greater. Let’s take away the RES subsidy,” he suggested, but his proposal was rejected by 98 votes.
Ramadan Atalay insisted on lifting the moratorium with the support of Yordan Tsonev, who said the moratorium was an easy one, but not the right one. The proposal was not adopted by 146 votes to any.
Vazrazhdane demanded a longer moratorium – until April 30, 2022 – with the argument “climatic conditions”. “We Continue the Change” clarified that the deadline is not to cover the winter but to give a reasonable deadline to the EWRC and stakeholders to discuss the situation, and expert commissions to take measures for the energy crisis. The proposal was also not accepted. (71 in favor, 83 against, and 62 abstentions).
The submitter of the moratorium proposal yesterday, Desislava Atanasova, said that “Team A proposes Plan B”. She demanded that prices be frozen at 1 January 2021, not 1 July 2021 and that the moratorium take effect immediately. Both proposals were rejected.
The proposal of Zhecho Stankov from GERB for the preparation of a mechanism for compensation for business was also rejected.
GERB is trying to shift the responsibility again
Alexander Nenkov reiterated yesterday’s thesis of Desislava Atanasova and Hristo Gadzhev that the responsibility for imposing yesterday’s moratorium on the ruling coalition. He added that the energy commission was set up just to give the parliamentary majority time to decide how to deal with the energy crisis.