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Bulgaria makes efforts to attract back nationals residing abroad

Photo: dnevnik.bg

The Bulgarian economy is experiencing huge deficit of workforce. Unemployment in this country is only 3.7% and as Premier Borissov recently said, only those who do not want to work are currently unemployed. Meanwhile, the number of Bulgarians who left this country in search of better paid jobs, career and living standard is between 1.5 and 2 million people and the number of those who leave Bulgaria is still higher than the number of Bulgarians who return to their home country.

The deficit of workforce makes the business and the authorities look for hidden reserves. That is why over 60% of the pensioners in this country continue to work. On the other hand nearly 200,000 Bulgarians in active age neither study, nor work. The Bulgarians who live and work abroad also attract the attention of the business and the Bulgarian authorities, because they have the potential to fill the shortage of workforce. These Bulgarians are used to working under the criteria and the requirements of the employers in the more developed countries, have enough skills and competence in their professional fields and are priceless human resource for the Bulgarian economy.

However, we must admit that most of them did not leave their home country, because they love to travel. They merely emigrated due to the better labor conditions and higher wages offered in other countries, including other EU member states. This is proven by the fact that the Bulgarian emigrants send over EUR 1 billion to their families and relatives in Bulgaria on an annual basis, which makes them the biggest foreign investor in Bulgaria.

The citizens are affected by various economic indicators – salaries, prices, purchase power, well-being and satisfaction with work and life. That is why the task of the Bulgarian authorities to attract the Bulgarian emigrants back to their home country seems difficult – the opportunities of the state are limited, the living standard is modest and Bulgaria is the EU member state with lowest incomes. That is why the business and the authorities cannot rely only on the nostalgia and the sentiments of the Bulgarian emigrants. According to sociological surveys, 70% of the Bulgarians who live and work abroad would consider returning to their home country if the conditions are favorable. In this context, the Bulgarian Ministry of Labor and Social Policy has developed and will launch in January 2020 a special programme to attract emigrants. A package of measures has been prepared under the Human Resources Development Operational Programme. According to these measures, the Bulgarians who return to their country will receive up to EUR 600 a month for a period of one year, this country’s Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy Zornitsa Rusinova announced. This is a substantial amount and nearly equals the average monthly salary in Bulgaria. The people who return to Bulgaria will be able to use this money to pay their rent, Bulgarian language studies of family members with other nationality, child care, etc. The total value of the programme is nearly EUR 5 million and is directed to all people aged 54 or below.

In their first comments on occasion of the new programme, most of the Bulgarians living abroad are skeptical. The Bulgarians will come back if they see that their relatives live better, the salaries are fair and the healthcare and education systems are functioning well. The state authorities do not have to give us money. They should help us feel an important part of the Bulgarian community, a Bulgarian emigrant wrote in the social networks. Most people like him openly insist on better living and working conditions in Bulgaria, so they can return to their home country. Of course, there are people who will take advantage of the measures of the Bulgarian authorities to attract emigrants back to the country. We are yet to find out whether these measures would yield the necessary results.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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