Lack of staff, unregulated imports, undercutting domestic prices, regulatory regimes and administrative pressure, as well as the challenges facing the so-called circular economy, are among the key issues facing businesses in the production sectors of the economy. This conclusion can be drawn from the meeting held today with 16 branch organizations, members of BIA, with the operational management and experts of BIA.
The participants in the meeting also stressed the continuing year-long failure to solve the problem of household waste tax mechanism, insisting on introducing the “polluter pays” principle, i.e. the levy is due to the amount of waste generated and not to the carrying amount of the assets or the tax assessment of the property.
For serious unregulated imports of bicycles from China alarms Borislav Georgiev, General Secretary of the Association of Bicycle Manufacturers in Bulgaria. He stressed that this is a serious market hindrance to the Bulgarian producers, who maintain 1600 jobs and only in 2017 have exported more than 7 million euros. “Bulgaria ranks tenth in terms of number and value of exported bicycles for 2017, and seventh in the EU, while in terms of import we are 112th in the world and 26th in the EU,” said Georgiev.
According to the Executive Director of the Association of Recycling Industries (ARI) Vladimir Dimitrov, one of the basic problems in our country is the lack of qualitative impact assessment of the drafts of legal acts. “The assessment is either completely missing or superficial, incomplete and completely formal,” said Dimitrov.
Some of the participants in the conversation voiced expectation that BIA would initiate a debate on the elaboration and adoption of a Law on Branch Organizations - a topic on which the business community was active more than ten years ago, but the debate was not finalized.
The leitmotiv of the conversation was the shortage of labor - both in quantity and quality. As an effective mechanism to overcome this problem was identified the dual learning, as well as the need to ease the procedures for recruiting third-country workers outside the EU. “If we had problems with qualified personnel two years ago, now we have problems with staff in general,” said Galin Gospodinov, chairman of the Branch Chamber of Woodworking and Furniture Industry.
The executive director of the Bulgarian Chamber of Mining and Geology Ivan Mitev complained of the unprecedented public and administrative pressure on business. “There is no normal business climate. Every four years the business climate changes, with the explanation that there are elections. Thus, it cannot be planned, investments cannot be absorbed”, the representative of the mining industry was categorical.
According to the chairman of the Bulgarian Branch Chamber of the Energetics Dimitar Shevikov, the share of state-owned companies in the energy sector is still too high, which is the reason for frequent changes of the management teams of the big companies in the sector. This creates instability in the sector, lack of continuity and follow-up and normal business planning in this important sector of the economy.
“We have systematic problems and we are expecting reform, which should have happened a long time ago. Funds for healthcare are constantly increasing and mortality rate is rising. We are constantly increasing the resources for education and lacking quality, educated workers. The funds for the Ministry of Interior are constantly increasing, and there is no security. This cannot continue indefinitely,” said Ilia Levkov, chairman of Electric Vehicles Industrial Cluster.
With regard to the need to introduce adequate industrial relations today, it was proposed to create a working group with the participation of experts from branch organizations to prepare proposals for a new Labor Code. The participants in the conversation agreed that the present Code, written in the conditions of a totalitarian state-owned economy with full ownership of production assets and amended hundreds of times over the years, does not meet the current conditions and requirements of the labor market. It was emphasized that Bulgaria is in the last places in the EU-28 on all indicators characterizing flexible working relations, including work on a fixed-term contract, temporary employment agency, part-time employment, second employment contract and others.
“The changing economy requires us to change as an organization. My ambition is not only to preserve BIA but also to modernize it so that we can respond as an organization of the new conditions, the new economic reality. We cannot do this without your support and without your criticism. Criticize, share, make claims! I may be a president of an employers’ organization, but here you are my employers,” said the Executive President of BIA Radosvet Radev. “Both trade unions and the state draw their power from us – we create the added value. Without our effort and initiative they would have nothing to distribute,” Radev added and committed to such meetings to become a regular practice, allowing for a direct, timely dialogue for identifying problems and seeking solutions.
The meeting was attended by the management of Association of Bulgarian Forest Companies, Association of Bicycle Producers in Bulgaria, Association of the recycling industry, Bulgarian Recycling Association, Electric Vehicles Industrial Cluster, Bulgarian Chamber of Mining and Geology, Bulgarian Association of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Bulgarian Branch Chamber of the Energetics, Bulgarian Branch Chamber - Machine Building, Association of manufacturers of agricultural machinery, Bulgarian Branch Chamber of Woodworking and Furniture Industry, Bulgarian Association of the Metallurgical Industry, Branch Chamber of Pulp and Paper Industry, Bulgarian Chamber of Chemical Industry, Bulgarian Association of Manufacturers, Importers and Traders of Personal Protective Equipment, Chamber of the garment industry. BIA was presented by the Executive President Radosvet Radev, Vice Presidents Dimiter Brankov, Kamen Kolev and Peter Denev and directors of centers.