07.10.2021

Compensations could be for all business entities on the stock exchange - small companies, kindergartens, hospitals, and municipalities, says the President of the Bulgarian Industrial Association.

We live with inflation that we have forgotten in recent years; prices are constantly rising. So how worrying is the business situation, Mr Mitrev?

The situation is worrying. Especially the price of electricity is what worries all businesses the most - from the smallest to the largest. Each of them has made their forecasts and have calculated prices in the cost of the product they produce. What has been happening since June, though, could literally reverse the state's attempts to limit the adverse effects.

If there's a chance to compensate the business immediately, it will be good because otherwise, it is unclear whether there will be an enterprise left to compensate and support. Therefore, we offer another solution for compensation of the price of electricity - 50% above the estimated price of BGN 119 / megawatt, set by the EWRC, amounting to about BGN 75 per megawatt-hour. In addition, we insist that the compensation is for all business entities on the stock exchange.

Let's not forget that there are small companies, kindergartens, hospitals, municipalities. So I dare not say this measure is life-saving. But it will give entrepreneurs a breath of fresh air and a little peace of mind that they have a state behind them.

Since the energy exchange has been operating, it has constantly been subject to suspicion of manipulation. Do your members give you such signals?

Our members ask us many questions, we have reflected them in the document, which, together with other employers' organizations, we have sent to all institutions that have the authority to verify the veracity of these signals. Of course, we cannot know whether certain things have happened or not, but we have reasonable doubts and insist that they be verified. 

Will there be changes in the mechanism of energy subsidies for the poor so that the state can protect businesses and its most vulnerable citizens from the price shock?

Not until the end of the year, because household consumers have a specific price from the EWRC, and no one has the legal right to change it, even if there are some solemn grounds. However, after New Year, if a new increase in gas price is forthcoming, it is suitable for the state to think about its energy-poor citizens, who cannot cope with their bills.

More and more economists and financiers are saying that the crisis is over and that it is good for the business to stop expecting state aid and take matters into its own hands. Do you agree?

It depends on what kind of help we are talking about. Of course, a business with markets and growth, whose electricity or gas price is not a high percentage, doesn't need financial assistance. But for those for whom the state has imposed several restrictions, it must continue. I wouldn't say I like the word help - it's more of a "support" during a difficult time. Because the Bulgarian entrepreneur has been contributing to society for years in the form of taxes and insurances.

Now the business needs the support of society in a difficult time to continue to grow.

We have drastically lagged with the Recovery and Resilience Plan; it seems that only we have not submitted it. What are the consequences going to be?

At the moment, only Bulgaria and the Netherlands have no plans. But in the Netherlands, the problem is not the delay, but the fact that they have decided that they do not need the resource now. In our country, however, the delay is critical. Not only because of the cabinet but because of the enormous political uncertainty in the country. Due to the lack of consensus not only between politicians but also in society.

What is certain is that within this year, we will not be able to rely on the BGN 1.6 billion provided in the budget - advance funds from the recovery plan, even if the caretaker government manages to submit the program to the EC by the middle of this month. According to the procedure for approval of national plans, the EC has two months to evaluate them and draft a contract, after which the EU Council must approve it within another month. Therefore, from now on, the worst-case scenario for Bulgaria is 2022 to be "zero" in terms of European funding and the most optimistic - the first funds to reach business in the 3rd quarter of next year. On the other hand, we understand the delicacy of the caretaker government and the difficulty of negotiating with the EC.

What is the most challenging moment of these negotiations?

Perhaps the more difficult moment in the talks with the EC than judicial reform is for the coal-fired power plants. Indication of a specific date on which they will stop working. Europe wants to know what we plan on doing until then.

How will we achieve decarbonization and transform our economy so that it can meet this challenge? First, to have a plan on how we replace the lost capacities. Second, how will we overcome the social consequences in the affected regions? 

Do you think we have the resources to cope with this complicated task?

I believe in the pragmatism of society and the Bulgarian state. In the instinct for survival that we have. We have suffered a lot in our thousand-year history, and I think this has taught us to find solutions even in the most challenging moments. I want us to succeed and solve this difficult task because it is essential for the generation after us, our children. Not just live, but live well with higher incomes in cleaner air. The Bulgarian Industrial Association is always ready to help with its expertise to solve this tough task.

You took over the leadership of BIA after two emblematic names - Bozhidar Danev and Radosvet Radev. Does this weigh you?

The answer can't be unequivocal. Both complex and easy. Complex, because they were both remarkable people with their vision, mentality, upbringing. Inspiring organizers, entrepreneurs, public figures and patriots. It's easy because they both left behind an organized structure. Their lessons, their wisdom and their dialogicity brought a lot to each of us. I've worked with both. I believe I was able to learn their lessons.

 

 

Date: 07.10.2021

Source: 24 hours

Readed: 520