Navigation Maritime Bulgare (NMB) has invested 115 million dollars in purchasing four new bulk cargo ships. The company plans to acquire another six new ships by the end of the year, which will be able to sail under Bulgarian flag after the passage of the revisions to the Commercial Navigation Code, Transport Minister Aleksandar Tsvetkov and NMB CEO Hristo Donev said at a joint news conference Thursday.
Donev specified that with the purchase of the new ships the amount of the total annual investment in the fleet for 2010 will reach 260 million dollars. Thus the investment for the first five years agreed upon in the privatization contract concluded by NMB and the German-Bulgarian consortium KJ Maritime Shipping will become effective before schedule.
Two of the newly acquired ships, which sail under Maltese flag, were christened "Rodina" and "Bulgaria", thus restoring a tradition dating from the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. The other two are named "Vitosha" and "Strandja", Donev explained, adding that the purchase of the first four ships also provides 168 new jobs.
The ambitious investment programme will guarantee the stable development of NMB and the jobs in it.
In turn, Tsvetkov explained that the revisions to the Commercial Navigation Code will create conditions for more ships to sail under Bulgarian flag. This will turn the negative trend under which the ships sailing under Bulgarian flag were reduced by 50 per cent.
Tsvetkov commented that the amendments to the Commercial Navigation Code would regulate in detail ship mortgages, giving more rights to creditors. Now banks avoid lending for ship building or purchases and demand that the ship be registered under the flag of a country where their receivables will be guaranteed. It will also become possible to mortgage a ship under construction. This will help to increase the number of Bulgarian-flagged ships and will encourage shipbuilding in Bulgaria, said Tsvetkov.
Registration will be simplified because just a registration certificate will be required.
A simplified procedure will also be introduced for the recruitment of foreign crew members on Bulgarian ships. To guarantee the employment of Bulgarian sailors, it is required that at least 25 per cent of the crew must be Bulgarian.