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(DF) New Ban Expected to Stop Telecom Operators from Increasing Prices on Existing Contracts with Users

December 23 (BTA) – A new order will prohibit the increase of prices on effective contracts for telecom services, Economy and Industry Minister Kornelia Ninova said here Thursday. She was speaking to reporters after meeting with representatives of consumer rights watchdogs, including the Chair of the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC), Dimiter Margaritov. A1 Bulgaria and Telenor Bulgaria announced earlier in December that from February next year the prices of the monthly subscription plans will be tied to the average annual consumer price index for 2020 and 2021, published by the National Statistical Institute. It would mean an increase on the prices in effective contracts with users by some 4-5 per cent. Margaritov told the Bulgarian National Television on Wedneday that they can fine the operators for the increase but not stop them. Ninova said Thursday that the CPC has already found the rate raise to be unfair commercial practice and a ban will be issued later the same day. She warned operators that if they try to raise the prices as planned, the government will apply all possible mechanisms and tools to prevent it. “There are several [mechanisms]. The least that can be done is impose a fine of 1,000 to 30,000 leva. If the order is challenged in court, we will seek anticipatory enforcement,” she said. Margaritov said Thursday that there can be dialogue with the telecom operators as long as they take account of what the law allows and what is in their contracts with their users. On December 22, National Ombudsman Diana Kovacheva sent a letter to the CEOs of the three mobile operators, urging them not to change the prices of telecommunications services during the coronavirus pandemic as it would seriously affect the pockets of citizens.