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Bulgaria needs radical changes in its investment attracting model

Would green policies fall victim to economic priorities and political urgency?

In order to be able to rely on European funds for support of the economy in crisis, Bulgaria must present a well-motivated Recovery and Sustainability Plan to the European Commission. The draft of this document was submitted to the Bulgarian parliament for discussion a few days ago and provoked immediate reactions by trade unions and employers, who claim that the document needs serious editing.

According to economists, including Latchezar Bogdanov of the Institute for Market Economics, the project has a number of weaknesses and there is not enough time to correct them. "The Recovery and Sustainability Plan lacks proposals and political commitment that something would be reformed," he said in an interview with BNR-”Horizont”.

According to the chair of the board of the Bulgarian Employers' Association Innovative Technologies, Ivan Mihaylov, the draft plan should be subject to review and analysis by the new government but it must not be delayed:

“We have been watching this process with concern as when it comes to digitization and innovation in which Bulgaria needs to catch up, there are a number of projects dedicated to this goal.”

However, the entrepreneur says that European funds should be only one of the sources of fresh money for the Bulgarian economy. In addition, finances need to be properly invested in research and development in order to keep experts and to train new ones.

"We need to re-evaluate and change thoroughly the model we use to attract investments. The current one shows that we are not attracting new investments, while current investments are developing poorly. We rely on a competitive tax environment, but our neighbors have also caught up to this. In this country where we still have quite good specialists but we are at risk of losing them because the neighboring countries will attract them. We have been following with great concern the ideas for changing the tax environment. This is an extremely risky action that could push us in the wrong direction. Another important goal is to keep the companies that already operate in Bulgaria, as we are in a difficult period. However, great will is needed because any delay and shift from the agenda would lead to extremely negative consequences," Ivan Mihaylov warns.

"Program the Future", "Invest Smart" and "Produce Green" are the three pillars the country needs to work on as they will be keys to its development in the next 7 to 10 years. These are all topics that are on the agenda and programs of green parties both in this country and around the world. There are MPs with green ideology in the 45th National Assembly, but will it last long enough in order to start dealing with environmental issues? Environmental organizations have already called on lawmakers to make changes to the part of the Recovery Plan related to the sphere of energy.

“The trend in the past 30 years has been that when people are elected and they find themselves in politics, the topic sinks, suppressed mostly by economic priorities or political urgency. In the situation we are in, this continues to be a risk," Pavel Antonov, a member of a civic network engaged in environmentally friendly development, says in an interview with BNR-Horizont.

In order to overcome the possibility of green policies falling victim to compromises or agreements, Mr. Antonov says that a balance between various reforms needed in the Green Policy sector must be achieved.

Compiled by: Yoan Kolev /based on interviews with Lyudmila Zhelezova and Valeria Nikolova - BNR-Horizont, Tanya Balabanova - BNR-Stara Zagora/

English: Alexander Markov

Photos : BGNES et archives personnelles