Minister Loukarsky, as you have announced the part of money from future new debt accounted for BGN 16 billion will be allocated for the economic growth. How exactly will the companies be supported?
As the Prime Minister Borisov told, a large part of the loan will go towards repayment of old debts, including payment of state debts and liabilities of government departments accumulated to companies. It is no secret that this is one of the things that generate the so-called intra-company indebtedness and solving a problem by using this part of the debt will unclog payments. Hopefully, it will lead to a more proper economic environment, which we haven’t been achieved in recent years and to the economy growth as well.
What is the amount of the debts run up by your Ministry?
We have not yet carried out a detailed analyses. I know that we have such debts, but the Ministry of Economy is not the biggest debtor. In any cases, we are not the major problem.
How will you help small companies to stay longer on the market? You have said that their average operational expectancy is between 1 and 3 years.
Companies will be able to save BGN 113 million resulted from easing the administrative burden in the next three years. They were included in the third package of measures to facilitate business, which is expected to be approved by the government in March. Facilities for companies encompass eliminating the unnecessary regimes, the number of documents, the reduction of fees, etc. However, the ball is not always in our court. The majority of the problems encountered by the business concern the communication with municipalities. Therefore, we are planning to apply the German model, where local authorities protect any specific requirement as fee or document that is needed by the companies. If they do not succeed, this means that it is not needed.
When do you expect Brussels to approve the new Programme “Innovation and Competitiveness”?
The end of February is the most optimistic forecast, but probably the program will be approved in the middle or at the end of March. At this moment, the first procedure related to improving the productive capacity of small and medium-sized companies will also be opened with a total budget of BGN 150 million.
Will there be a limit to the submission of projects as the idea of ”one company – one project”?
We will define this in the instructions to the applicants, which are being prepared now. There are various suggestions from industries and small and medium-sized enterprises. The aim is to avoid that happened during the previous reporting period when the same large companies were selected to implement projects. In that respect, some restriction should be set. The proposal is not “one company – one project.” We are discussing how a company can apply for up to three projects.
What are your suggestions for the Juncker plan ?
Our proposals are mainly related to “Sofia Tech Park” and industrial zones, which may also be included to support the Junker plan. Trakia Economic Zone could be also added there. A public-private partnership setting up as an element in the project is the main condition required under the plan. In that respect, the industrial zones meet this requirement.
Let there be no illusions that economically weaker areas, such as Bulgaria in the light of the EU, will be split into the Junker plan, or any geopolitical territorial location of the countries is expected within the plan. The applicant who has prepared best project will be selected. Theoretically, all projects under Juncker plan could be only German, only English or only Dutch.
You have said that new appointments are in the ration one to three compared to those in the Oresharski cabinet. A week ago, your Deputy Minister Daniela Vezieva said there was no need for changes to the Agency for small business, but you changed the Executive Director a few days ago. Has the connection been lost?
Mrs. Vezieva’s statement was more diplomatic. Indeed, there are unsatisfied persons, and the Agency was not working as to serve the interests of the Bulgarian economy during the last year and a half.My personal desire is to refresh this structure. This required the change of the director as well.
Will there be other staff changes?
Probably. If I say that there will be no other staff changes, I will lie to you. Some of the authorities under the umbrella of the Ministry are mandated. Furthermore, we are continuously monitoring the process and if some agencies and state companies do not bring positive results, staff changes will be a fact.
The process of change is a bit overexposed because there are only 15-20% structural changes within the Ministry. At the time of the former government, when Minister Stoynev was assiegned as a Minister, I could say that there were more drastic changes on a numerical basis of 80%. In that respect, I will respond in absentia to the attacks of Mrs. Maya Manolova. Before commenting our status, she should reconsider their statement.
Has the promised attestation of commercial attachés already started?
There is a technical problem and we are trying to resolve it pragmatically. We would like not only documentary attestation as it is now but personal one. Travelling of commercial agents to Sofia, however, would lead to additional costs to the budget of the Ministry and the state budget. Therefore, we will strive our meetings with these officials to coincide with the time when they are on leave, as to combine their arrival in Bulgaria and the attestation. Concerning the work of various employees – there are good and bad signals. Here is a particular example – Bulgaria has made a large investment in India. A plant for packaging liquid bitumen was opened at the end of last year near Mumbai, as the investment is in aggregate of EUR 2.2 million. There were other deals there supported by the initiative of our sales representative there. We are plased of the fact that he came here for the attestation.
At the same time, I met our two sales representatives during my visit to Azerbaijan, where a large mutual interest for business is expressed. It turned out that one of them is doing a very good job , and the other went on holiday in Baku. I will do my utmost to turn away that one, who does not work. Two positions in Baku are absolutely unnecessary, so I will reduce the one and transfer it where we interested and no commercial representation is ensured.
Will you take into account the request of the “old” UDF members who sent a letter to the National Executive Council (NEC) of the UDF claiming Yanko Stanev’s membership should not be permitted?
Those people who are calling for this have some moral considerations. The NEC has decided to hold a re-election of a city chairperson in Varna. Until then, any speculation regarding the authorization of the membership, the invalidation of elections, etc. are redundant. Let’s persons who stated that, to get acquainted with its own Statute first. The authority, which is able to revoke and to propose the National Council termination of membership, is the Control Board of the party. The National Council may take a decision on the basis of its proposal. The Council has not been referred to this issue. As far as there are some speculation regarding the election of Mr. Stanev, what was taken in agreement with the Varna organization as a solution of NEC was announced to turn the thematic conference in Varna into a new election. Otherwise, Varna will have a new choice of city chairman.