Банкеръ Weekly

Briefs

GRAIN REPORT GOES TO PROSECUTORS

The unprecedented delay of the investigation of missing grain from the State reserves resulted in the establishment of a new coalition between BZNS-People's Union, the Democratic Party, UDF, and... BSP. Next week, the recently-formed Novoto Vreme parliamentary group may join the coalition, too. In this case, opponents to the rulers claim, the proposal made by the National Assembly inquiry commission which investigates the grain scam cannot be rejected. The commission proposed that individuals and companies involved in the scandal be delivered to the prosecutors. For this purpose, the Coalition for Bulgaria MPs who boycotted the sessions of the commission will have to keep their promise and suppport the voting.The conclusion of the six-month investigation is expected to come between May 11 and 14, when the final report on the inquiry will enter the plenary hall. It doesn't mean that the members of the commission have reached an agreement on the most important texts of the document. Some of the members explain that their work has been impeded by the ordinary practice of the State Reserve and Wartime Stocks Agency to provide discrepant reports. For example, a recent inquiry showed that 106,000 tons of grain, deblocked from the reserve because of replenishing of the stocks in the spring of 2002, were restored by companies participating in the tenders until early April 2004. According to official information, that was effected in portions - 24,000 tons were returned in 2002, 34,000 tons - in 2003, and 48,000 tons - on March 26, 2004, even though the term stipulated by the Act on the State Reserve and Wartime Stocks is six months.According to the agency, the last 48,000 tons were restored by ViN AD - Plovdiv, Vitivi EOOD - Etropole, Mitam OOD, DBS Engineering OOD - Sofia, and Elegans OOD - Vratsa. The grain has been stocked in the silos of a few villages. However, an unexpected inspection, made by the MPs Ventsislav Varbanov, Monyo Hristov, and Dimiter Stefanov last week, showed that there were hardly 300 tons of grain in those silos. The deputies also found out that the agency had signed grain preservation contracts with the lessees of the silos, not with their owners. One of them has not even been licensed as a storehouse by the National Grain Service.In the meantime, the Association of Grain Dealers, the Union of Bulgarian Millers, the Chamber of Industrial Bakers and Confectioners, and the Bread for Bulgaria Association have prepared an alternative grain report. Boris Inchev, Executive Director of Simid AD - Plovdiv, announced on May 3 that the report would be deposited in the prosecutors' office, too. One of the main arguments of the branch representatives is the State's illegal intervention on the market in the end of 2003 and the beginning of 2004. The principle mistake is that the State interfered in the bread price-making process and thus violated the principles of the Constitution. It should have done so on the grain market, as our legislation allows it in order to support the agricultural producers, Mr. Inchev explained to the BANKER weekly. The Turkish mills are the only ones that profited by the duty-free import of 51,202 tons of flour, the Union of Bulgarian Mills Chairman Peter Hristov underlined. The decision of the Cabinet impeded domestic companies from reporting a BGN36.8MN turnover, while the Treasury missed BGN6.1MN from VAT and USD3.2MN from import customs duties.

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