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Bulgaria: Mass Privatization Process To Begin Today

Sofia, 7 October 1996 (RFE/RL) -- Bulgarian officials plan to begin the decisive phase in the country's long-delayed mass privatization program today.

Citizens will be able to use vouchers to bid for shares in companies whose combined capital amounts to the leva equivalent of $346 million. The plan is similar to one adopted in the Czech Republic.

Yosif Iliev, a Bulgarian mass privatization official, has said that some three million Bulgarians will bid for shares in 968 enterprises, while others companies be included in a later round of privatization.

Under the plan, the government is to retain majority control of so-called "strategic companies," including oil refineries and tourist offices. Banks, arms factories, railroads and power plants will not be privatized.