Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

A TIDY SUM BEHIND THE NEW TELECOMMUNICATIONS LAW

The new political season is about to become one of the most scandalous ones, MPs from parliamentary groups comment. The climax will come with the decision on NATO which is to be taken in Prague. The beginning of the battles, however, is right here. The first blast of parliament passions will be provoked by the new draft bill on telecommunications which was hastily adopted by the Cabinet in mid-August. The decision from above stipulates that the draft be voted as soon as possible. No long discussions, no significant amendments to the provisions, said a representative of the ruling majority. A colleague of his added in turn that a decision of this kind is actually unfeasible. Not only for the purely economic interests splitting the group of the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII), but also for the expected boycott on the part of the opposition.There is more than one problem in the whole story. The first one refers to the party discipline within the biggest parliamentary group which ranks can only be closed by Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha. The Premier may also ask for support from the right opposition. There are still quite discreet attempts for investigation, blue MPs comment. While the surveys are just the beginning of the NMSII-UDF relationship, the cooperation with the ethnic Turks' Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) will be played according to the rules (not the rules of Simeon, but those of the MRF leader Ahmed Dogan, as proven in the past). For the present, the MRF holds a vague view on the telecommunication matters. But people familiar with the relations in the past ten years foresee that MRF's Central Council (and mostly Dogan) is going to support the Government's draft and not its opponents, represented by the new companies in the branch. In this case, the provisions will be approved without significant changes. Otherwise, the frame of the law may leave the plenary hall quite revised. Anyway, scandalous discussions will not be avoided. For not only the economic interests, but also the available funds of telecommunication lobbies are among the most powerful in the country. The battle will also be fired by Bulgarians living abroad, by Bulgarian capitals flown abroad, as well as by foreign political interests in the telecom sector in the centre of the Balkans.In fact, individual lobbies were only formed in end-August. A formal consolidator was the draft bill, prepared in a hurry by the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications and the Telecommunications Regulation Committee, and quickly approved by the Cabinet. And mostly its 4th paragraph, according to which the national telecom keeps its monopoly for one, two...to six years. Whatever attempts have been made in the past four months to provoke a public discussion on the monopoly of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company (BTC) they appeared fruitless. None of the rulers tried to take part in it. In turn, clean politicians and most of the yuppies justified their silence with the complicated telecommunication matter.Behind most of the provisions of this very specialised matter there is money. And there is a tidy sum behind the paragraph in question. But money language is spoken by everybody. The larger the amount, the bigger the possibilities. That is why each of the elements of this paragraph will cause furious battles.

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