Fruit brandy producers have blocked roads in a protest over new regulations, bTV broadcaster and Dnevnik daily reported on April 19. According to amendments to the law on excises and tax warehouses, they can produce brandy only during six months of the year (from July to December), and the capacity of the cauldrons is limited to 500 litres. Cauldrons above 500 litres must now be licenced as tax warehouses.
Fruit brandy (rakia, rakija, pronounced rakiya) is very popular in the Balkans. Its alcohol content is usually about 40%, but home produced brandy can be stronger.
The protesting producers pointed out that under the old rules they made large investments in cauldrons for brandy with capacity of 1,000 litres. They also oppose the time limit on their operations.
The protesters blocked roads to the border checkpoints Dunav Most (with Romania) and Kapitan Andreevo (with Turkey), as well as the international road E-79 at the entry to the city of Vratsa in northwestern Bulgaria. They warned that the new rules will result in an increase in the informal sector.
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