carriage unions which claim to represent over 180 companies told a news conference at BTA on Thursday.
The Union for Economic Enterprise in Transport, the Chamber of Taxi Drivers and Carriers, the Federation of Bus Carriers and the Union for Private Economic Enterprise (UPEE) talked to the press.
"Despite our solidarity and empathy with our colleagues, who have been protesting for several days now, we must note that they did not support our criticisms of the increase in indirect taxes in this year's budget," UPEE Vice President Teodor Dechev said. He said the road carriers failed to involve taxi operators in their protest.
The road carriers called for the elimination of vignette charges in an open letter to the ministers of transport, finance and the economy and to the unions of the transport industry. The companies see grounds for this move in the rising fuel prices and the growing revenues from value added tax. The unions also want the government and the National Assembly to guarantee that once the excise duties on petrol and diesel oil reach the levels required by the EU in 2011, they will be frozen for at least five years.
Speaking for taxi transport, the unions also called for a lower excise duty on liquefied petroleum gas, which has been 175 euro/tonne for the last four years. They believe it should be cut by at least 40 leva/tonne (about 20 euro), roughly 40 per cent of the balance over the minimum rate required by the EU.
The unions also expect to be involved in a review of the effective legislation that would root out what they see as harmful inconsistencies to make the law more adequate.
The unions expect all problems to be addressed in their entirety, and call for a negotiated solution that would spare the public serious problems which massive protests would cause.
Dechev conceded that road carriers in Bulgaria are strongly dependent on the government. However, he believes the current protests started too late because consultations about next year's budget are about to begin at the Finance Ministry.
While Dechev expressed support for all well-reasoned demands of the protesting organizations, he said the unions participating in Thursday's news conference would not back an effective protest.