site.btaUPDATED Economy Minister to Revisit Personnel Changes, Step Up Arms Export Applications
Presenting his team and priorities to the media here on Monday, Bulgarian caretaker Economy and Industry Minister Nikola Stoyanov made it clear that he would revisit the personnel changes made by his predecessor Korneliya Ninova. He said that 72 people have been fired at the Economy Ministry in the past 7-8 months, which is way over 10%, and the managements were replaced in 14 of the 18 state-owned companies under the Ministry's jurisdiction.
"The people who were dismissed in those companies were tenured after a competition," Stoyanov said. None of the new appointees were hired after a competition. Each of these cases will be treated on its own merits, from a junior expert to the CEO of the State Consolidation Company, and we will focus on the person's expertise. Each case will be considered. After the [Kiril Petkov] Cabinet tendered its resignation [but before it actually came down], several competitions were announced at a very short notice, like on Friday for Monday. To me, that is no competition. I will work in line with the Public Enterprises Act."
The Minister said that the State Consolidation Company Board of Directors now has four members, whereas they must be at least five. He plans to have seven people on the Board and has filed an application for registration of three more members with the Commercial Register.
Handling arms export applications to be expedited
Stoyanov said that handling arms export applications has been delayed. "The Interdepartmental Commission licensing arms exports last met on June 27, and by law the next meeting should have been held 30 days after that. It is a time bomb because 230-240 applications for transactions worth over BGN 1 billion are waiting to be processed," Stoyanov said.
He said that the Commission will meet as early as this coming Friday and will consider all applications.
According to Stoyanov, due to this delay a German investor is planning to withdraw from Gabrovo (Central Bulgaria).
Improving business climate
Improving the business climate will be a top priority, said the Minister. "Ours is a caretaker cabinet, but circumstances force us to take more serious action because the crises come one after the other," he said, adding that his team is already preparing a list of measures to improve the business climate.
In his words, one in four companies that now invest in China wants to relocate closer to home, and that is a huge opportunity for Bulgaria. "We will draw up a new investment bill or revise the existing one to provide the next regular minister with a groundwork to step on."
Stoyanov said that "difficult days lie in store for businesses and people in Bulgaria". That is why his Ministry has launched a poll among businesses to see how many use natural gas and how many can switch to an alternative fuel. The results will be reported to the energy crisis task force that caretaker Prime Minister Galab Donev set up right after taking office.
The Economy Minister said also that efforts will be made in the coming months towards this country's accession to the Schengen area. "Bulgaria has fulfilled the technical criteria, but some partners still mistrust it," he said. "If we can show that one can do business here in a transparent manner, it will help," Stoyanov commented.
His Ministry will also work to develop industrial zones. "In other countries the governments offer turnkey industrial zones, while here the investors have to do many of the things themselves," he added.
"Last but not least, the green transition continues, and we rely on the employers and the trade unions in this department," Stoyanov said.