12th Annual Conference Government Meets the Business Held in Sofia

Sofia, January 30 (BTA) - The 12th Annual Conference Government Meets the Business, organized by Economedia, takes place in Sofia. Attending the event are Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, cabinet ministers and representatives of the business community.

Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov told the meeting that "Bulgaria's natural place is in the club of disciplined and rich countries from the European centre". Goranov rejected claims that Bulgaria is the most corrupt European country. He said that this country has the one of highest economic growth rates "and in this aspect, corruption remains a newspaper implication".

Goranov said that Bulgaria's joining the Eurozone is a joint project of the government and the European Central Bank.

The Finance Minister said that the big problem of the business in finding people to hire is the state of the higher education. "We see total devaluation of the system of higher education. The young prefer to study and work abroad," he said, adding that the trend seems to be reversing, and in 2012 to 2016, about 40,000 Bulgarians have returned to their homeland. Goranov noted that while at the start the returnees were people aged between 40 and 65 years, now these are younger people.

Next, Goranov said that labour productivity in Bulgaria grows faster than in the EU. In 2000-2016 labour productivity in this country increased by 3.4 per cent annually on average, against 1.9 per cent in the EU, he said.

The Finance Minister said that the government will continue to pursue the policy of increasing the lowest incomes, so that incomes in Bulgaria catch up with the average in Europe.

Political analyst Ivan Krustev too dwelled on the problems on the labour market and the shortage of a skilled workforce. According to Krustev, at the moment investors perceive the problem to be even more important than the state of the judicial system and corruption. In his view, the shortage of skilled workers is to a large extent a result of the economic model based on low pay and low taxes. He said that the model is difficult to work when the borders are open and many of the skilled staff opt to go abroad.

In Krustev's opinion, the premise that the problem of the labour market can be solved by "importing workers" is politically unfeasible. "The question is what is being done for the people who are here," he said. One way to tackle the problem is to invest in education, but at the start this can too lead to greater numbers of people leaving Bulgaria. Rather, in order to keep people here, a culture must emerge where they see that success in Bulgaria matters, Krustev said.

Source: Sofia