Eurofast Global Manager Panayiotis Diallinas: Bulgaria Offers Significant Advantages to Foreign Investors
Interview with Mr. Panayiotis Diallinas, Regional Operations Manager and Member of the Board of Directors of Eurofast Global Ltd, a company based in Greece and Cyprus, for the Greek Survey of Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency)
What services does Eurofast Global offer on the Bulgarian market?
Our professional services range from payroll, accounting, tax, legal and merger & acquisitions with considerable know-how to address various cross border issues and effectively reach an optimum level in company expansions.
Throughout the years, Eurofast Global has accumulated a wealth of expertise in a number of countries, which can be turned into an invaluable advantage for its Cypriot and international clients alike.
Our aim is to remain large enough to offer a full range of technical services, but small enough to deliver personal confidential service and advice Our Groups vision is to maintain a medium size professional company of in order to sustain both a manageable organisation as well as the delivery of personalised service to our clients.
How many years have you been operating in the region of Southeast Europe? What has been the impact of your company's business activity on the countries in the region?
Eurofast has been active in the region for over 15 years now initially working with associates and eventually establishing our fully fledged offices.
Our aim is to assist the local economy by attracting foreign investment through our marketing efforts.
Furthermore, we have become an integral part of this region being involved in a number of chambers, sponsoring events and assisting in the economic and intellectual development of each country.
We have a staff over 175 people working in the Region and we invest heavily on their education and trainings. Furthermore, we have substantial investments state of the art in technology in every country.
What are the specifics of your industry sector and what you find most promising or concerning in terms of sector growth and sustainability in the Balkans?
The Real Estate market in the Region is growing despite the global financial crisis. Investors continue to invest despite concerns. Some countries have been more affected than others since their real estate was overvalued to begin with but the Region offers great opportunities in this sector.
Eurofast is in a position to assist our clients and associates in this market by locating opportunities, assist in funding the investments and find the suitable purchasing options.
For instance, Cyprus is a prime venue for the worldwide operations of multinational corporations, particularly through the use of Cyprus holding companies.
Multinational corporations and international businesses active in cross-border investment activities can increase considerably their return on investment by using the Cyprus holding company structure in their international tax planning. Cyprus encourages foreign investment and is committed to creating conditions favorable to both offshore entities and those seeking an operational base in a low-cost, low-tax area.
Drawing on your experience, what are Bulgaria’s comparative advantages in the business field of your company – compared to the other countries in the region?
Bulgaria offers significant advantages to investors including its favorable geographical location, EU membership and low corporate taxes and the low-cost but qualified labor force.
At the same time, Bulgaria, for more than a decade, has had a prudent fiscal policy which has helped maintain its public debt among the lowest in the EU; it has had budget surpluses for years and even in the current crisis, it has managed to keep its budget deficit low.
If you have to rate the Southeast European countries, where is it easiest to do business in terms of simple and efficient taxation and legal procedures? Where would you place Bulgaria in that ranking – top, middle, bottom?
We would place Bulgaria somewhere above the middle. In the last t few years, new tax and legal procedures have been implemented facilitating significantly the start-up of business in Bulgaria are, as we said already one of the advantages of the country for all investors – local and foreign.
The Balkans is a complex area with strict legislative backbone therefore as professional advisors we recommend that potential investors find suitable and trustworthy firms which are able to guide them and provide suitable advice.
Some of the countries where you operate have flat tax rates, some don’t. From your perspective, which system is more beneficial for the countries in Southeast Europe? Has the flat tax made it considerably easier for your company to provide services in these markets?
Of course each system has it advantages and disadvantages. For us, as a Bulgarian legal entity the flat tax made life easier for us, enhance our client communication and efficiency, as our clients themselves understand the logic of the tax system in Bulgaria.
Do you expect any “spillover” of the financial crisis in Greece to the other Balkan countries?
It is normal to expect such a spillover as Greece is one of the big investors in the Balkan region, in Bulgaria 30% of the banks are Greek-owned. This might affect the timing of the entry of Bulgaria into the EMR II which is a major priority of the Bulgarian government .
How do you think the Greek financial crisis is going to change the way governments and companies approach their finances in the Balkan region?
All governments must and will look into the cost part of their budgets in order not to allow a similar crisis as the one in Greece to explode in their country – namely to limit the taxes and social insurances.
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