Monday, 1 September 2008

Homemade Bulgarian Rakia - Duty Bound Eventually

Homemade Bulgarian Rakia has always been part of Bulgarian folklore and traditions.It is chilled in the summer and drunk hot in the winter and an essential part of the way things have been and always will in Bulgaria. When something happens that disturbs the tradtional way of life in Bulgaria the Nation is stirred.

Last January 2007 Bulgaria as part of the the inclusion into the EU, the holiday spirit of the whole nation was tarred by the prospect of an increase of the excise duties on homemade Rakia. The country united and what followed was a mass of protests and debates against this. The facts state that After January 1st 2007 the excise duties on Rakia was to be increased to 2.20 levs (1 Euro = 1.95 levs) per litre up to 30 litres.

If the homemade Rakia exceeded 30 litres the excise duties would be doubled to 4.40 levs per litre. It is a fact that almost 30% of the Bulgarians think that the hike was like selling their soul for its accession to the EU. Over 30% of Bulgaria's people said that they blamed the large Rakia distillers who had lots to gain from the increase.

The main concern was that small producers of Rakia will be worst hit (a normal fact of modern western culture and Globalisation) by the changes but also that many vineyards will be forced into closing down their business. In essence only the big rich companies will remain.

A survey concluded that 50% of Bulgarians drinks Rakia, while less than 15% of the populous consume more than 30 litre in a year. And almost two thirds of the population (62.2%) produce their own Rakia.

The argument is that unlike other nations, alcohol in Bulgaria is drunk mainly as part of the rituals of informal communication. Slightly more dated figures prove that over 60% of Bulgarians consume alcohol when they are in the company of friends. However, there was a greater fear in the mind of Bulgarians. They knew that not only will they be hit hard financially on the Rakia front, but if they give up fight against this, the can of worms with be well and truely opened with duty beign imposed on other homemade products traditionally homemade such as salami.

So, with so much deep rooted concern and a National public outcry against the introduction of excise duties on Rakia is it no wonder the EU directive actually listened and the levies were not made statutory. It is however a waiting game many fear and the outcome will eventually come into force at some point in the future.
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