Stamen Tassev: More Companies Should Fight Corruption

Novinite Insider » INTERVIEW | January 19, 2006, Thursday // 00:00
Stamen Tassev: More Companies Should Fight Corruption Stamen Tassev. Photo by Kameliya Atanasova (Sofia News Agency)

Mr Stamen Tassev, who served as Deputy Finance Minister from 2003 to 2005, took on the helm of Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum, one of the most influential communities in Bulgaria in January. Before assuming the position of a Deputy Prime Minister, Stamen Tassev worked with the Ministry of Economy as Vice Consul / Chief Commercial Officer in New York, NY, USA. From 1997 - 2002 he was Managing Director of Newton Finance Management Group, Bulgaria. Before that he served as Executive Director of KPMG / Barents Group, Sofia. His work also took him to London (Consultant in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) and Italy (short time adviser with UNICEF).

Stamen Tassev answered questions of Sofia News Agency Editor Nadya Dimitrova.

The Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum is the business association in Bulgaria promoting the values of corporate social responsibility (CSR). BBLF has over 190 members - both Bulgarian and international companies. The BBLF Business Ethics Standard has been accepted by over 1200 companies, and the Anti-Corruption and Education statements of the Forum have found their right place on the agendas of politicians, businesses and civic society.

Maxim Behar has been BBLF's Chairman since 2001 until now and Maria Shishkova is the forum's deputy chair since 2004.

The Board appointed Stamen Tassev as new executive director in December 2005.

Q: How can Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum assist the government in creating a better business environment for international and local investors?

A: The Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum can assist the government in creating a better business environment for international and local investors through its active participation in the forums organized for the business sector. Through the launch and the execution of initiatives that prepare the future businessmen, preach implacability towards corruption, improve the dialogue with the state institutions and through experience exchange with reference to the socially responsible practices in the business.

Q: What does it take for Bulgarian and international companies to do business in a proper way in Bulgaria?

A: It costs them a lot of efforts in order not to succumb to the temptation of solving their problems through unworthy practices such as disloyal competition, "purchase" of representatives of the authorities, detouring or dismissing the labour legislation, the tax and customs laws. The price the companies following BBLF Business Ethics Standard have to pay can be measured in losses, missed errands, clients, revenues and so on. Still, the long-term effect for them is that they gain the respect of their employees and clients and decrease in the fluctuation of manpower and improvement of the quality of the work.

Q: How can the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum help the government in fight against corruption?

The first thing is that all BBLF members meet the tasks they have assumed by signing the Declaration for fight against corruption and promote the values imposed by the Business Ethics Standard. The main aim is to attract more people for the idea and to promote intolerance towards the vicious business practises. The ways to fight corruption are many, but the most important one is the personal example. Then there are the different initiatives BBLF could implement and popularise. For example there could be a fund to protect and award prominent journalists investigating corruption and different criminal acts. In 2006 the Forum will seek ways to work in closer cooperation with the Parliamentary Commission for fight against corruption and the first steps in that direction have already been taken.

Q: What should the government do in order to stimulate investments?

A: The government should see companies in the business as equal. It should also make an effort to retain the normative base stable, to seek ways to cut human resources cost when the companies are following the different procedures in the customs, tax, social, health and all kinds of control and regimes practices and the lodgement of information. One of the main tasks of the e-government should be the implementation of the main principle: one-time information introduction - multi-session usages. But the IT sector is as important for Bulgaria, as the infrastructure is. So probably many businessmen would invest in a light industry plant in the Rhodopes mountain, but how could that happen when there are no roads?

Q: Which is the crucial factor for Bulgaria's sustainable economic and social development?

A: The efforts Bulgaria's governments have made over the last few years have helped for the social economic stability, but the activeness and the inventiveness of the Bulgarian business have also helped. Still, the expectations for Bulgaria's future entry into the European Union (EU) attenuated and delayed the declining social economic problems. The cash flows - direct and indirect - from the Bulgarian emigrants abroad to their accounts or relatives in Bulgaria are also attenuating the problems. Credit expansion is also increasing the volume of the consumption of imported goods without any guarantee that it could catch up with the slowly increasing productivity and export of goods and commodities in Bulgaria.

Q: How do you see your contribution to the Bulgarian Business Leaders Forum (BBLF) as its new Executive Director?

A: In my 30-years of working experience I have crossed the front line and have worked both in the state administration and in the private sector. Therefore I have a clear idea of what the business is expecting from the state and what should be reformed in the state policy in regard to the business sector. I could help for the improvement of the dialogue between the state administration and the business, knowing the both sides. I also hope that I could cooperate for the adoption of measures for the improvement of Bulgaria's image in its fight against phenomena like corruption, the understatement of obvious conflicts of interest and other negative occurrences.

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