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Parliament has decided at first reading to repeal the requirement for heat meters to be consumer-owned
Parliament has decided at first reading to repeal the requirement for heat meters to be consumer-owned

Parliament has decided at first reading to repeal the requirement for heat meters to be consumer-owned

June 9, 2010

At its sitting held on June 9, 2010 the National Assembly adopted at first reading amendments to the Energy Law repealing the requirement for heat meters to be consumer-owned. The idea is to grant consumers the right to choose the mode of acquiring the gadgets, i.e. to buy or rent them, specified GERB’s Valentin Nikolov who is one of the idea’s authors. He underscored that the amendment will affect some 560 thousand households that have to soon change their heat meters. The Council of Ministers proposed downsizing the State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation to seven members – a chairperson and six members. A bill on amendments to the Energy Law was adopted earlier today providing for a maximum of two consecutive terms in office of the Commission members. A possibility for the Commission to carry on with its activities is envisaged upon termination of a Commission’s member mandate until the election of a new member.

The term for purchasing electric energy generated by existing combined heat and power plants that have failed to achieve high efficiency is extended until January 2011. The amendments provide for elimination of the preferential price for combined electric power which has not met the high efficiency benchmarks. The M.P.s adopted a draft bill on amendments of the Energy Law proposed by Martin Dimitrov (The Blue Coalition) envisaging that the National Assembly shall also adopt the National Energy Strategy.

The Parliament adopted at first reading amendments to the Bar Act regulating the activities of foreign lawyers in Bulgaria. The amendments were proposed by the Council of Ministers. They envisage the right of every able bodied citizen of an EU member state who has graduated a law faculty in Bulgaria to become a member or junior member of the Bulgarian Bar. The amendments provide for the possibility foreign lawyers registered in the Single Foreign Lawyers Registry to practice their profession jointly with other duly registered lawyers and in the modalities provided for by the law. Another proposal envisages the possibility for two or more foreign lawyers to practice in this country as a branch of their Bar in an EU member state. A foreign lawyer registered in the Foreign Lawyers Registry shall be granted the right to participate in professional associations of Bulgarian lawyers unlike the existing hitherto limited provision for a foreign lawyer to be only represented by a Bulgarian lawyer selected by him. The draft bill contains provisions securing rights and responsibilities of a foreign lawyer practicing in Bulgaria equal to those of his Bulgarian colleagues. A foreign lawyer is entitled to practice his profession jointly with other foreign lawyers registered in the Single Foreign Lawyers Registry as well as with Bulgarian lawyers. Yet another restriction concerning foreign lawyers’ practice in Bulgaria is proposed to drop out so that they would be given the right to defend the interests of their clients and defendants before the administrative authorities together with a Bulgarian lawyer.

The Parliament adopted at first reading amendments to the Act on Protection against the Harmful Impact of Chemical Substances and Preparations introducing measures for implementation of the European regulations. They also envisage the adoption of two Council of Ministers ordinances on defining the order and ways of preservation of hazardous chemical substances and mixtures as well as the order and ways for limiting the production, use and release in the market of selected hazardous chemical substances, mixtures and products.

Before that the M.P.s adopted at first reading amendments to the Act on the Financial Management and Control of the Public Sector providing for a sanction in the amount of BGN 200 to 1000 for managers of public sector business organizations that are first line budget spenders, except the Supreme Judicial Council and the Audit Office, who fail to fulfill their obligation to submit to the Minister of Finance by March 31 every year a report on the state of affairs of their financial management systems.

The Parliament approved Dragomir Stoynev from the "Coalition for Bulgaria" as a Chairman of the Labor and Social Policy Committee. The proposals for changes in the chairmanship of the National Assembly standing committees were made by the "Coalition for Bulgaria". The parliamentary group of the socialists withdrew its people from the committees’ chairmanship following the decision to remove Emilia Maslarova from the position of Labor and Social Affairs Committee chair. The M.P.s voted for the following committees' Deputy Chairs: Rumen Ovcharov, Budget and Finance Committee; Petar Dimitrov, Economic Policy, Energy and Tourism Committee; Lyuben Kornezov, Legal Affairs Committee; Rumen Takorov, IT &C Committee. Rumen Petkov was approved as Deputy Chair of the Regional Policy and Local Self Governance Committee, Angel Naydenov as Deputy Chair of the Foreign Policy and Defence Committee, Evgeni Zhelev – of the Healthcare Committee and Meglena Plugchieva – of the EU Affairs and EU Funds Oversight Committee.

The Parliament also approved MRF’s Hasan Ademov as Deputy Chair of the Labor and Social policy Committee and Ataka’s floor leader Volen Siderov as Deputy Chair of the Foreign Policy and Defence Committee. Yane Yanev was approved as member of the EU Funds Committee and the independent M.P. Emil Vasilev as member of the Culture, Sivic Society and Media Committee. GERB’s Rumen Stoilov substituted his colleague Nedyalko Nedyalkov as member of the Education Committee. The independent M.P. Georgi Terziyski was approved as member of the same committee. Vensteslav Varbanov was elected member of the Agriculture and Forestry Committee on a proposal by the Blue Coalition. Lyuben Kornezov from the Coalition for Bulgaria was released from the ad hoc Committee for the elaboration of election code and Milena Hristova was elected to replace him.

A BGN 200 to 1000 penalty for managers who fail to submit in due time to the minister of finance the annual internal audit summary report is envisaged by amendments to the Public Sector Internal Audit Act adopted at first reading. The term is February 28 of the year following the year covered by the report. A fine in the amount of BGN 200 to 600 is envisaged for internal audit managers who fail to present the audit reports to the executives of their organizations by February 20 of the following year. The draft amendments also regulate the internal audit activities which can be carried out only by the relevant internal audit units. The mandatory minimum number of members of the municipal internal audit units is proposed to be reduced. It shall be determined by the mayors of municipalities in accordance with the specificity of the internal audit activities related to providing the organization executives with efficient financial management and control systems as well as with recommendations for improving the organization’s activities. Persons who are not certified as "Public Sector Internal Auditors", but have another internationally acknowledged internal auditor certificate such as CIA and CGAP shall be permitted to act as internal auditors and auditors in the Auditing Body. A fee is proposed to be introduced for sitting for an exam to be certified as a "Public Sector Internal Auditor", for certificate issuance or for issuance of copy of a certificate. The amount of fees shall be determined by a tariff adopted by the Council of Ministers.

Amendments to the Customs Act and the National Revenue Agency Act aim at merging the inspectorates within the system of Finance Ministry into a single inspectorate under the Minister of Finance.

Amendments to the Independent Financial Audit Act adopted at first reading provide for reduction of salaries of the members of the Commission for Oversight of the Statutory Auditors to 50% of the basic monthly remuneration of the Commission’s Chairman. At present the Commission members receive salaries amounting to 90% of the monthly pay of its chairman. The optimization of the Commission’s activity is related to budgetary reductions, read some of the grounds for the proposed amendments. The main bulk of the amendments are related to the EU Directive transposition as well as to the need to improve the work and interaction between the Commission for Public Oversight of the Statutory Auditors, the Institute of Certified Auditors and other organizations.

Provisions repeating texts of the International Audit Standards as regards the contents of the audit reports are proposed to be deleted. Amendments are introduced to the external guarantees with a view of stricter regulation of the requirements laid down in the Directive as well as in the EU Commission Recommendation of May 6, 2008. The proposed amendments also envisage limiting the scope of the notion for "public interest companies", keeping the credit and insurance institutions, companies that produce, transport and trade in electric and heating power, companies that import, transport , distribute and transit natural gas, companies that provide telecommunication services and "The Bulgarian National Railways" EAD and its subsidiaries. The W&S enterprises are proposed to be excluded from the notion’s scope.

The Parliament adopted at second reading amendments to the Environment Protection Act. The second reading was launched on Friday. The amendments regulate the National Green Investments Scheme aimed at supporting environmental projects. They outline the structure and main principles of the Scheme that guarantee AAUs transfer in compliance with the requirements of the Kyoto Protocol and for "going green". All countries that purchase such emissions are obliged to go green as regards the proceeds from the trade deals, e.g. they have to invest them in projects or other activities leading to GHG emissions reduction.

The National Green Investments Scheme is aimed at providing financial and institutional support to investment or other projects resulting in GHG emissions reduction or other positive environmental effects. The Scheme covers the organization of green investment projects’ application, valuation, validation and financing through the National Trust EcoFund. It also covers the monitoring and control of such projects implementation.

The opening of GHG emissions transfer procedure shall be launched at the request of the parties involved in international emissions trade. The negotiations shall be held by the ministers of finance, of environment & water and of economy, energy & tourism. They also shall sign the agreements on emissions sale.

Amendments to the Community Centers Act adopted at second reading stipulate that the Union of Community Centers shall organize its congress with the participation of more than half of the registered community centers. The requirement has so far been for attendance of at least two thirds of the community centers. The Parliament has further adopted a provision that within one year following the amendments entering into force the Union Board shall convene a congress. If that term is not observed the forum shall be convened by the Minister of Culture within a period of three months. Within a two year term following the amendments entering into force the registered community centers and their associations shall streamline their statutes in compliance with the new legal provisions.

The Parliament paid tribute to the victims of the June1923 coup by a minute of silence.

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