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Bulgarian Parliament Votes To Freeze Power Prices For Households

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov (file photo)
Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov (file photo)

SOFIA -- Bulgaria's lawmakers have voted to freeze electricity and heating prices for households until the end of March, giving the new governing coalition time to come up with a plan to shield the European Union's poorest member state from rising energy costs.

"The National Assembly imposes a moratorium on the prices of electricity, water services, and heating on the regulated market at the levels of December 16, 2021. The decision is valid until March 31, 2022,” according to the amendment, which will enter into force on the day of its promulgation.

The legislation was approved by almost all parties in parliament, with 186 lawmakers supporting it, two voting against, and two abstaining.

The ethnic Turkish MRF party did not take part in the vote, calling the proposal populist and illegal.

Power distribution and supply companies have warned that the price cap, by preventing them from passing on surging wholesale prices to consumers, could draw them into a deeper liquidity crisis after prices soared in September.

Earlier this week, Bulgaria’s independent energy regulator, the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission, proposed to increase power prices by an average 11.5 percent and heating prices by about 30 percent in order to bring them closer to the market prices power companies pay for electricity and natural gas.

The last increase in electricity prices for households occurred in July, when they increased by 3.5 to 5 percent, depending on the provider.

The December 16 vote comes three days after parliament confirmed a new government led by Kiril Petkov after his new anti-corruption We Continue The Change party sealed a governing coalition deal with three other factions.

The move followed a months-long political deadlock that has resulted in three parliamentary elections this year.

With reporting by Reuters
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