OF CAKES AND ELECTRICITY

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Bulgarians can only keep their fingers crossed to be saved from the fog and ... foreign companies

We, the Bulgarians, have always been well disposed towards foreigners. For reasons unknown to me, we have always thought that anything foreign was better than anything Bulgarian. But it seems that this belief is slowly dissipating in the cold and the fog. Events of the past month led many people to believe that foreign companies, however respected they may be, start behaving strangely once in Bulgaria.

The examples are many, starting with the Austrian Strabag, which won the tenders to build the north stretch of the E79 international motorway as well as the new terminal and runways at Sofia Airport, to the new owners of the electricity distributing companies (EDC) in various regions of the country.

For those who have forgotten - the new terminal at Sofia Airport was most recently supposed to be ready by the end of August 2005. It seems that the deadline for completion has been extended so many times that I no longer even remember when the original one was.

Last winter the ceiling of the new terminal fell in, then the tarmac on a runway wrinkled, then it was something else. The latest deadline is sometime next year. Meanwhile, every time the notorious Sofia fog descends, the airport will be closed, because someone decided to uninstall the navigation systems on the old runways, thinking that the new ones would be completed on time.

In December, residents in Plovdiv, Varna , Shumen and the surrounding regions threatened to sue the foreign owners of their EDCs: EVN in Plovdiv and E.ON in Varna and Shumen, respectively. Varna residents were so enraged with E.ON that they stormed the company's central office in the city and broke several glass doors.

What prompted these actions was the carelessness displayed by the Varna EDC, owned by E.ON, which led to blackouts and power surges, destroying hundreds of families' electrical appliances. The Varna EDC, as well as that in Plovdiv, owned by EVN, have also been accused of overcharging on electricity bills. No pun intended!

These are just a couple of examples of some of the strange behaviour displayed by big, well respected companies who have come to do business in Bulgaria. They have a good track record in other countries but their actions here are bewildering. However, as we say in Bulgaria: "He who eats the cake is not mad, mad is the one who gives it to him."

It seems that this is exactly the case. If the foreign companies can bend the rules, breach their contracts and do whatever they please with total impunity, then why not? They are not here for charity, but to make money, so if there is a way to maximise their profit, there is nothing wrong in doing so. Now, don't get me wrong. I am as upset and angry as anyone whose computer went "boom" because of a power surge in the system, and I would be very upset if I were living in Plovdiv and were getting excessive electricity bills. All I'm saying is that it is partly our own fault, and the authorities' fault in particular. If the laws and the contracts were enforced rigorously, then everything, or almost everything, would have been fine. In the meantime, let us pray to be saved from fog and power surges.

Read 3804 times Last modified on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 12:43

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