If you want business in Bulgaria – go to Varna, WB says

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Bulgaria is a relatively good business destination, the latest research of the World Bank /WB/ shows, named Doing Business in the EU, 2017: Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania. It has surveyed 6 Bulgarian cities: Burgas, Pleven, Plovdiv, Ruse, Sofia and Varna. The latter has represented itself best. Each city’s results have been assessed according to 5 different criteria: launching of some business, receiving of a construction permit, joining the electricity grid, property registering and contract implementation. According to the report, no city has shown best results in all the five categories.

At the same time the document points at the fact that if the Doing Business annual research had dealt with the indexes of the Black Sea port capital of Varna and not with the ones of Sofia, this state would have gone 25 positions up, taking the 57th and not the current 82nd one.

The latest survey of the World Bank in fact shows how favorable the bureaucratic and administrative environment is for doing business. Bulgaria’s results show that despite the major centralization of power and the de facto compulsory and equally implemented regulations, the business environment also depends on local authorities, differing across the different cities and towns. Being the third largest city in Bulgaria, Varna has always been a huge economic factor for this country. It is not only the sea tourist capital of the state, with numerous resorts around and hundreds of thousands of holiday-makers, who spend their money there – it also has a huge harbor and a shipyard, a modern international airport and it is linked with the entire country via railways and roads. Moreover, even in the dark period of communist dictatorship Varna was open to the world and people here now cope much better with the challenges of the free market economy. Of course, the place is far from the economic giant, named capital Sofia /taking share of over 30% of GDP/, but it is situated a bit remotely from the central administration. That gives it a chance to be more flexible in terms of its business regulations: different licenses, permits and certifications, alongside other documents, necessary for any normal economic activity. Things will get even easier, more accessible and cheaper with the boosting of the e-services for business, the way the government intends to do it. No doubt, the local authorities will use this advantage as well and will offer to the business circles more profitable and accessible administrative services. That is what Vice Premier Tomislav Donchev explains and he strongly defends de-centralization and digitalization.

In fact Sofia has been lagging behind the smaller places in terms of business services under most of the WB criteria. The same thing happens in Budapest and Bucharest which comes to prompt that the administrative and political capitals in this region of Europe are not always the cities with the highest level of regulation and provision of business services. It is again the stance of Mr. Donchev that Sofia has the most superfluous administration, which turns it into the most ineffective. The research of the WB makes it clear that its recommendation is to opt for business cities like Varna, but not for citadels and mastodons of bureaucracy like Sofia. Business along the coastline with a beach and entertainment – a cocktail with a high dose of added value!

English version: Zhivko Stanchev​ 


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