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Bulgaria: Financial Market Reacts Positively To Government Measures

Sofia, 19 February 1997 (RFE/RL) - Bulgaria's national currency (lev) is slowly but surely gaining strength against the dollar, and observers take this as an indcication of public confidence in the interim government. RFE/RL's correspondent in Sofia reports that in just one week, the lev has risen in value to 2000 to the dollar, as compared to 3000 to the dollar. A year ago, the lev traded at 70 to the dollar.

Bulgaria's caretaker government has ordered the price of fuels to be tripled and ordered former ministers of the Socialist government not to leave the country.

Our correspondent reports the interim government, headed by Stefan Sofianski, is enjoying a high degree of support, but adds that the stronger lev could also be attributed to an anticipated visit of a delegation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The IMF delegation will investigate Bulgaria's need for foreign financial assistance.

RFE/RL's correspondent also says that measures imposed by new Interior Minister Bogomil Bonev, have dramatically reduced the smuggling of subsidized Bulgarian fuel to neighboring Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey.

Yesterday, interim Finance Minister Svetoslav Gavriisky predicted that the lev will become even stronger.

Even so, experts are highly skeptical about the continuing strength of the lev. Our correspondent reports the lev's rise is limited, and without a fresh flow of incoming foreign money, the lev could actually weaken.