Solvay Sodi CEO: Bulgaria Presents Wealth of Business Incentives
Bulgaria has a lot of advantages, benefiting the chemical industry business, according to the Solvay Sodi CEO Eric Vander Vorst.
In an exclusive interview for the "Investors of the Decade" Business Survey of Novinite.com (Sofia News Agency) and Novinite.bg, Eric Vander Vorst, lists these advantages as a favorable geographic location (in the case of Solvay Sodi - the export hub through the port of Varna West for the Balkans, Mediterranean regions, Middle East and Asia) along with richness in raw materials, low labor costs, and lower direct taxation.
The CEO, however, points out that low labor costs are often accompanied by low productivity and sometimes under-equipped contractors, and stresses on words of the new Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev that "it is not enough to have lower taxation in order to attract investments," but "it is also required to guarantee predictable and stable investment environment, to have a clear long-term vision for economic development and lower the administrative burdens."
According to Vander Vorst, the government of the Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, is cautiously managing its budgets in times of financial crisis and is doing appreciable efforts so that the country has avoided financial disasters as some of its neighbors.
Nevertheless, the Solvay Sodi CEO does point a major disagreement with the Ministry of Finance, regarding its decision to raise excise duties on fuels used for cogeneration.
"This is a precedent in Europe, where on the contrary governments are developing cogeneration privileges. To my view, it is also an ecological nonsense since gas is noncompetitive in Bulgaria. On this aspect, which is burdening our costs by several %, we would like to reach an understanding and reasonable solution from the government," Vander Vorst says in the interview.
He praises the Environmental Ministry for being strict, but also pragmatic and supporting the chemical business when searching for the best technical solution.
The CEO voices hope that the chemical industry will have a future in Bulgaria, quoting the Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism Traicho Traikov, who, in the sector strategy on attracting investments, presented in the beginning of November last year, had said that the chemical industry is one of the priority sectors for investments. The Solvay Sodi Head stresses that he agrees with Traikov that there is an unavoidable consolidation of the chemical industry in Europe and in neighbors to Bulgaria where only the best will prevail.
"This for sure is a card to play for Bulgaria," Vander Vorst explains all while pointing out that the chemical industry is a promising and still developing sector of the economy, which is creating a large number of jobs.
"For example, Solvay Sodi & subsidiaries directly employ over 670 people and indirectly (as subcontractors) – around 1300. We are currently also modernizing the fluorite installations and technologies in Chtiprovtsi, that we acquired last year. I believe that more stable fiscal rules would make the Solvay group probably more willing to invest in Bulgaria," the CEO concludes.
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