Bulgaria's finance minister has launched a probe into the allegedly inflated prices that local mobile operators charge, the highest across the European Union, promising justice for the clients.
"We are currently analyzing the market of telephone services. Our initial study showed that mobile prices in Bulgaria do mark a decrease, but much more slowly than they have to," Minister Simeon Djankov told the morning broadcast of bTV private channel.
"Prices are falling everywhere. In Bulgaria they do as well, but at a much slower pace. Which shows that there is a problem," Djankov said.
The finance ministry's analysis of the mobile market will cover the last seven or eight years and in case of breaches of clients' interests, the regulatory body will be approached.
"If there are irregularities, we will fight for our rights," he added.
The heated debate over the exorbitant prices Bulgarians pay for mobile calls was triggered by the European Commission warning that it will sanction the country over the inflated prices.
The Commission is about to issue recommendations which the Bulgarian regulatory authority CRC will be "obliged to take into utmost account", Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes said, as cited by EurActive.
The statement came in reply to a question by Andrey Kovachev, MEP from the ruling party GERB, who inquired how the commission plans to resume cuts to mobile termination rates,
Bulgaria's watchdog, the Communications Regulation Commission (CRC) cut termination rates to 6.64 eurocents/min (July 2010) under Brussels pressure, but while the EU average already stands below 4.91 eurocents/min, levels in Bulgaria remain unchanged.
CRC has promised that it will undertake steps to resume cuts to mobile rates and bring them down by up to 25% as of next year, but the regulatory body seems to have no efficient tools to force the operators into that.
CRC has previously threatened the mobile operators with sanctions, but these appear ridiculously low compared to the companies' profits.