Bulgarian finance minister: Plot to stir up hysteria over flour and sugar

According to Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Assen Vassilev, there are reports that hysteria must be stirred up to trigger panic buying of flour and sugar, the same way it happened with fuel and sunflower oil.

“We see unwarranted increases at some retailers for a day or two, after which everything calms down, and this is synchronized with organized media coverage,” Vassilev told Bulgarian national radio on March 13.

In early March, there was a brief burst of panic buying at gas stations in Bulgaria.

The coalition government blamed this on the youth wing of former Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s opposition GERB party, which it said bought boosted social media posts to cause hysteria. GERB denied the allegations.

March 12 saw uproar in the branches of a retail chain in Bulgaria when it offered sunflower oil at a discount, after days of sharp price increases.

Vassilev said: “We have information that such actions are being prepared with regard to flour and sugar. It is media hysteria which is organized without any basis”.

He said there were stocks of sunflower seeds to last four years.

With respect to GERB claims of intermediaries in the purchase of grain for the state reserveVassilev said there were no middlemen.

“Grain is bought on the commodity exchange,” he said, describing it as the most transparent mechanism for buying grain.

“Currently, Bulgaria has twice as much grain as we need, until 2023, to provide bread, flour and fodder.”

He said imposing an export ban was not a good option for Bulgaria, given that the country has more grain than it needs and it is good to have exports.

“We are implementing a much softer solution: buying cereals for the state. But if we find that food cannot be provided, maybe we will go in that direction as well,” Vassilev said.

Economy Minister Kornelia Ninova, speaking to Bulgarian national television on March 13, said Bulgaria was considering emergency measures due to speculation over key assets amid Russia’s war. against Ukraine.

“At the last meeting of EU agriculture ministers, we warned that Bulgaria was ready to activate Article 36 of the EU Treaty, which allows member states to suspend exports in situations major such as war and pandemic,” Ninova said.

She said the state would try to protect grain and sunflower oil markets, around which huge speculation had erupted in recent days.

(Two years ago, on March 13, 2020, there was a wave of short-lived panic buying of products such as flour and sunflower oil when Bulgaria declared a state of emergency due of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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Rachel J. Bradford