The charge for reconnection to the electric grid in case of supply interruption due to unpaid bills shall be removed. This is part of the amendments to the Energy Act adopted by the MPs on first reading. The amendments tabled by MPs from Coalition for Bulgaria provide for more rights to consumers. When the electricity bill is over 50% higher than the average for the last six months, the customer shall be entitled to challenge the bill and refuse payment until his/her claim is considered. Upon violation of the quality and reliability of electricity supply for a period longer than one third of a calendar month, the customer shall not be obligated to pay the electricity bill for the same month. The distribution company will owe compensation for pecuniary and non-pecuniary damage incurred on the client. With another change the regulator is entitled to change the price of electricity once in every three months.
The lawmakers approved on first reading a second bill amending the Energy Act, imported by Yavor Kuyumdzhiev and Tasko Ermenkov of Coalition for Bulgaria. The change is related to the construction of the "South Stream" gas pipeline. A definition of marine pipeline is introduced, and property and legal problems are regulated encountered in the construction of such pipelines.
Stock-breeders shall receive pastures and grassland from the state and municipal land fund without a tender, based only on the number of animals they keep. This was decided by the parliament that adopted at second reading the amendments to the Ownership and Use of Agricultural Land Act. According to the provisions, adopted by the parliament, pastures and grassland shall be granted on lease to the owners or users of holdings with grazing livestock registered with the Food Safety Agency System for Animal Identification and Holdings Registration in the respective or adjacent area in proportion to the number and type of registered animals and at market price determined by an independent evaluator. Stock- breeders should not have tax obligations and liabilities to the State Fund Agriculture, the state land fund, the municipal land fund and for land use. Applications shall be submitted to the Regional Agriculture Directorates.
The Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture Svetla Bachvarova from Coalition for Bulgaria commented that with the adopted amendments justice is restored in the provision of pastures and grassland from the state and municipal funds. She noted further that ever since 2010 a number of distortions have occurred where companies unrelated to agriculture have received huge subsidies. Bachvarova explained that the new procedure will start in 2015. The Agricultural Committee chair expressed regret that no texts pertaining to sanctions were adopted in plenary. Those were meant to address two major issues - foreign companies owning Bulgarian land to bring this activity to a close by the end of 2015, and the contracts for rent or lease concluded so far to be reviewed by the regional governors and by the Minister Agriculture, explained Bachvarova. She explained the lack of support for the proposals with the fact that the requirement for contract review holds a risk for those who are in violation. According to her, this poses a risk to the former ruling party. Svetla Bachvarova announced that they are ready to move next week new changes to the law concerning sanctions. Requirements for natural and legal persons acquiring agricultural land in Bulgaria were adopted together with the current amendments to the Ownership and Use of Agricultural Land Act. They must have resided for at least five years in Bulgaria and declare the income by which they are buying land, said Bachvarova. She pointed out that foreign entities from outside the European Union or countries on which there are agreements signed shall not be able to buy land in Bulgaria. The parliament decided that offshore companies shall not be entitled to buying Bulgarian land as well.