Bulgaria - finance minister comments may be good news for tobacco farmers..

April 22, 2010 - According to Fikret Bekir from the Bulgarian National Tobacco Producers’ Association, tobacco producers are protesting because they are demanding state subsidies for tobacco that has already been produced and sold should be apportioned evenly between the producers. Bulgaria’s Agriculture Minister, Miroslav Naydenov, who spoke at a news conference in Sofia, the protests are caused by contradictions among different groups of producers growing different sorts of tobacco. “We accept that there will be those who might be dissatisfied. It is their right to protest,” Naydenov said.

He announced the new state subsidies for the various sorts of tobacco saying that the government had approved them in accordance with the recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee on Agriculture. The Minister pointed out that Bulgaria had a quota approved by the European Union (EU), and a maximum subsidy of BGN 116 M that it could apportion among tobacco growers. He explained that the fact that the subsidies per produced unit of tobacco were lower in 2009 than they were in 2008 was because more tobacco was produced in 2009.

Bulgarian tobacco growers can at least afford a sigh of relief after the country’s Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, said that Bulgaria had started in the second quarter to overcome its economic crisis. Djankov said that during the first quarter of this year the government had paid out sums of money owed by the state to tobacco farmers and other agricultural producers.

In the first quarter, we have been paying out sums owed by the state to tobacco producers and other agricultural producers. To do that, we used revenues raised by the Customs Agency. It has turned out that we had smaller revenues that expected but starting in April, we are going to have a balanced budget, or we might even have a small monthly surplus. It is crucial to demonstrate that we are in firm control of Bulgaria’s finances despite the difficulties generated by the financial crisis,” Djankov said on the BNT 1 TV Thursday.

References: Bulgaria Tobacco Growers Skirmish with Police at Danube Bridge, Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency), 4/21/2010; Finance Minister: Bulgaria's Economic Recovery Has Started, Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency), 4/22/2010.

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