SOFIA, May 15
-- The World Bank will suspend a $150 million loan to Bulgaria if Sofia does not privatise tobacco monopoly Bulgartabak by end-year and does not reform its judiciary, said the bank's director for Bulgaria Andrew Vorkink.
-- The government said it planned to pay Christmas pensions this year due to increased collection of social insurance contributions. -- The Foreign Investment Agency named Bank Austria, part of Germany's HVB Group , as an investor of the year 2002 for its acquisition of Bulgaria's Biochim Bank.
-- Only Defence Minister Nikolai Svinarov would be authorised to allow state-owned arms plants to export arms as part of government's efforts to stem illegal sales abroad, ministry officials said.
-- The European Union would finance the planned construction of a pipeline carrying natural gas from the Caspian region and the Middle East to Austria via Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, the Energy Ministry in Sofia said.
-- State tobacco firm Bulgartabak will resume cigarette exports to Russia under a recently signed agreement with Russia's cigarette distribution association, the daily said.