Bulgaria's Agriculture, Tourism Most Resilient to Crisis in 2012 - Expert

Business | January 30, 2012, Monday // 13:13
Bulgaria: Bulgaria's Agriculture, Tourism Most Resilient to Crisis in 2012 - Expert Bozhidar Danev, Executive Chair of the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA), has warned that EU funds are no solution to Bulgaria's problems because they do not go to the creation of quality and long-term jobs. Photo by BGNES

The negative impact of the reduced economic growth forecast for 2012 in the Eurozone will spill over to sectors that have traditionally remained unscathed, according to Bozhidar Danev, Executive Chair of the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA).

In a Monday statement, Danev suggested that export-related sectors like metallurgy and transport would be hit by the slowdown.

He said that Bulgaria's two main options for achieving stability during the crisis were agriculture (grain production in particular) and tourism (because rising poverty in Europe would result in a shift in tourist flows to Bulgaria).

Reminding that over 60% of Bulgaria's exports were EU-directed, BIA's Executive Chair specified that the most dramatic aspect of the current situation was that the crisis had entailed a restructuring of the economy which had taken the shine off some promising sectors.

At the same time, Danev stressed, Bulgaria was plagued by the lack of economic renewal and investments, a drain of qualified workforce and professional training in sectors unrelated to the restructuring of the country's economy.

He drew attention to the rising emigration despite the ongoing crisis in the Eurozone.

The BIA Executive Chair argued that Bulgaria should fight the deepening impact of the crisis by improving the business climate.

He proposed the introduction of a so-called 'parliamentary board' for the purpose, specifying that representatives of the business sector believed it was a good idea to allow amendments to no more than 30 laws per year.

Danev highlighted that EU funds were no solution to Bulgaria's problems because a major portion of the money did not go to the creation of quality and long-term jobs.

"The country needs investments that create quality jobs and not call centers we count as IT," Danev said.

"Our country has the lowest taxes, and yet investors pass us by; we have financial stability and investors sidestep us yet again," the BIA Executive Chair stated.

He further predicted that producers of non-ferrous metals, food and petroleum products, which had been major contributors to the increase in Bulgaria's export in 2011, would most likely be hardest hit by the worsening economic environment in the Eurozone in 2012.

Meanwhile, Evgeni Ivanov, Member of the Management Board of the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria, predicted that Bulgaria would achieve a GDP growth of around 1%, a balanced current account and an inflation rate of around 3% in 2012.

He argued that larger fiscal buffers would help to maintain trust.

The CEIBG representative further called for a revision of all concessions granted by Bulgaria.

He also recommended an early introduction of an EU directive on payments of the state and municipalities to the business sector, the calculation of waste disposal fees for business entities on the basis of the amount of waste they produce and the creation of a so-called 'Gold Book' of regular VAT payers as apt anti-crisis measures.

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Tags: Bozhidar Danev, Bulgarian Industrial Association, BIA, GDP growth, Eurozone, economic crisis, inflation, current account, legal amendments, business sectors, agriculture, tourism, export, emigration, Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria, CEIBG, VAT, waste disposal tax
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