Category Archives: News

Business Encourages Government and BNB to Hurry Up with ERM2 Application

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Cohesion policy is the most important instrument of the European Union for economic, regional cohesion and sustainable development and inclusive growth. It is also the basis for supporting and developing services of general interest. Around 70 representatives of European employers’ organizations took part in the international conference “Services of general interest – an engine for sustainable development and growth in Europe”. The event, which is part of the program of the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council, is co-organized by BICA, the CEEP and the International Coordinating Council of Employers’ Unions (ICCEU). BICA is a member of both organizations, enabling it to participate directly in decision-making that affects business climate in Europe and the world.

“Services of general interest determine directly both the standard of living and the business environment and are an essential element of competitiveness. We are concerned about the EC’s highly conservative proposal, which represents a reduction of 150 billion euros for the seven-year period. More than ever, European citizens need certainty and the mobilization of important investments for European businesses and the strengthening of the European economy as a whole depend on the timely adoption of the Multiannual Financial Framework. I believe that we all have to unite and work for a balanced financial policy that puts emphasis on investments to increase the competitiveness of enterprises and to increase the qualified workforce, “said the chairman of BICA Vasil Velev.

“I also want to highlight the fact that Europe today needs the impetus of cohesion policies, from the enlargement of the Eurozone towards all those who want to join it and from the establishment of the area enclosed by a single external border. Bulgaria declares its will and willingness to be accepted in ERM II on the basis of the macroeconomic conditions. The efforts of the government and social partners to lighten the business in which BICB is an active participant have delivered a serious result, including towards improved collection in the revenue side of the budget. Efforts are also being made to more effectively manage state-owned companies, with BICB continuing to insist that minority bundles be offered on the stock exchange to improve corporate governance, enhance transparency and disclosure. Today, Bulgaria fulfills all the numerical criteria for entry into the eurozone on a sustainable basis – we have a positive budget balance, among the first three countries we are in the EU with the lowest government debt / GDP, we exceed the criteria for low inflation and long-term interest rates. Our national currency is fixed to the euro since its occurrence without changing the exchange rate. The business in Bulgaria is convinced that joining the eurozone would strengthen it, not weaken it. We are convinced of the benefits of Bulgaria’s accession to the euro area for our country as well as for the EU. That is why we encourage our Government and the BNB to apply without delay to ERM2,” stressed Mr. Velev.

Mr. Velev also noted our other national goals – Schengen and OECD. He also drew attention to another fundamental and very important policy document, the European Social Rights Pillar, endorsed at the end of 2017: “BICA supported the Pillar as a guide to effective employment and social outcomes in responding to current and future challenges that are directly geared to meeting the basic needs of people, and to ensuring better enforcement and enforcement of social rights.

We have made specific recommendations to the Bulgarian Government, which are also valid for our European partners. Europe faces a huge imbalance between demand and supply of labor. We believe it is very important to integrate into the labor market the people who are left behind, and it is of particular importance that the long-term unemployed and those of the most vulnerable groups – long-term unemployed and inactive – be included in training in professions and in part from professions for which there is a shortage of human resources. Labor market measures must be individual to be effective. Employment programs should be put on a new higher level to meet the needs of the labor market. An important condition for helping these groups of unemployed is to work with employers and to provide them with incentives to recruit these people, including a major role for the social partners.

To guarantee social rights, economic development is needed, it is necessary to promote qualified, high-productivity and intensive work. It is necessary for the social pillar to enter into an entrepreneurial pillar, because the goods are created. They are not due to a ready and effortless one.

We need to work more, and the EC can rely more on the social dialogue, the social partners and bringing the workforce to the digital age. Very good intentions remain only “on paper”, such as the “New Skills for New Jobs” initiative. This is not the approach, we must be pragmatic and we must be clear that from the good qualification, the good safety and health at work, the proper assessment of everyone’s ability to work and the skills and knowledge depends not only on the future of our own enterprise, only the future of undertakings providing services of general interest but also of the whole European economy. Our future will be as we build it ourselves! “

Representatives of employers’ organizations discussed the role of public services and services of general interest in the context of EU Cohesion Policy and identifying mechanisms to increase them. The aim is to provide services that play a key role in reducing regional disparities and supporting economic and sustainable growth in the EU by more suppliers, including more employers. MEPs are working on simplifying the rules of the new EU legislative and financial framework, said Iskra Mihaylova, the Chair of the Regional Development Committee. Following its adoption, which is expected to be in 2019, Member States will now have to report on the progress and results of EU funds absorption every two months, not as it has been until now.

“European leaders have realized that they need to step up their efforts and work more and more together for the development of Europe and the achievement of sustainable economic growth. The changes that have occurred in recent years in the development of services of general interest have shown us that they can be a powerful tool for helping the member states, “added Vladislav Goranov, Minister of Finance.

Participants also looked at the implementation of the Social Rights Pillar across Europe. The main focus was on the huge imbalance between labor supply and demand. In order to overcome the problem, it was pointed out the integration of all persons remaining outside the labor market, and it is of particular importance that the long-term unemployed and those of the most vulnerable groups – long-term unemployed and inactive – be included in training in professions and part from professions for which there is a shortage of human resources. An important condition for helping these groups of unemployed is also working with employers and providing them with incentives to recruit these people. Bisser Petkov, the Minister of Labor and Social Policy, said that services of general interest are the guarantor of equal access to the labor market and respect for the social rights of every person.

During the conference, the proposals on the Clean Energy Package and the Drinking Water Directive were also examined. According to the representatives of the employers’ organizations, the EU must have a common long-term vision of how to develop this sector and at the same time enable the member states to find their place on the European energy map. The Bulgarian energy market can now be compared with the markets in the developed European countries, Delyan Dobrev, the Chairman of Energy Commission said.
Since July this year 70% of electricity is traded on the free market, and this liberalization is a fact thanks to the work of employers’ organizations and the state over the last 3 years, he added. The chairman of BICA Vassil Velev said that work should be done to improve the consistency of European and national energy and climate policies but without losing competitiveness or overpowering energy prices. In his words, Bulgarian businesses and Bulgarian citizens are often victims of the renewable energy community’s privileges, and therefore fully supports CEEP’s desire to treat these players on the energy market as each other and to be placed on a level playing field.

Among the participants in the international meeting were Lilyana Pavlova – the Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the EU Council, Vladislav Goranov – the Minister of Finance, Mr. Bisser Petkov – the Minister of Labor and Social Policy, Delyan Dobrev – the Chairman of the Committee on Energy at the National Assembly, Vasil Velev – the Chairperson of the BICA, Valeria Ronciti – SEEP Secretary General, Andrzej Malinovski ICCEU Chairman for 2018, Ognian Zlatev – the Head of EC Representation in Bulgaria, representatives of employers’ organizations , MEPs and others.


 

DR. MILENA ANGELOVA ELECTED AS VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE

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Dr. Milena Angelova, member of the Employers’ Group, will be one of the two vice-presidents of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) for a two-and-a-half year term from 2018 to 2020. She will be responsible for budget matters. She will fill one of the senior positions in the EESC along with the newly elected president Luca Jahier from Italy, former president of the Various Interests’ Group, and vice-president Isabel Caño Aguilar from Spain, member of the Workers’ Group, who will be the vice-president for communication matters. The new president and vice-presidents were elected on 18 April as part of the Committee’s mid-term renewal session marking the half-way stage in its five-year term of office.

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After her election, the vice-president in charge of budget, Milena Angelova, said: The European Economic and Social Committee has a unique and key role to play being in a position to present the balanced view of the social partners and organised civil society on how to work together more effectively in order to achieve a more united and more federal Europe, which is able to make the best use of the opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution, artificial intelligence and digitalisation, and to cope with the challenges of growing fear, xenophobia and migration. We should aim for a more focused and more effective Europe, and to “doing less more efficiently’. In this regard, I believe the motto of the current Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union – United we stand strong – is directly relevant and should be fully endorsed.”

As the Committee embarks on the second half of its five-year term, it will as always be working hard to  strengthen  the voice of civil society and bring Europe closer to its citizens.

Background

  • The EESC is made up of 350 members from its 28 Member States. Nominated by their national governments, they are appointed by the Council of the European Union for a period of five years. They then work independently in the interests of all EU citizens. These members are not politicians but employers, trade unionists and representatives of various activities, such as farmer, consumer and environmental organisations, the social economy, SMEs, the liberal professions and associations representing persons with disabilities, the voluntary sector, gender equality, youth, academia, etc.

AOBE Notifies Sofia Municipality of Forthcoming Protests on 28 February

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As we listen to the wondrous voices around us, regarding how “the increase in electricity prices for business will not affect in any way the prices of goods and services”, NSI has just reported consumer price growth for December 2017.

Food prices grew by 3.6% on an annual basis. Growth in producer prices on the domestic market is even higher – 5.1% for industry.

And this is just the beginning, as the effect of rising electricity rates for businesses is still far from being fully consumed. At the same time, there is no change in the actions of official authorities towards normalizing the situation of the so-called “free electricity market”.

Therefore, the nationally representative employers’ organizations BICA, BIA, BCCI and KRIB, united in the AOBE, whose members account for 86% of the gross value added in the country and employ 82% of the employees in the Republic of Bulgaria, and the “Protection” National Trade Union, have presented to Sofia Municipality a notification concerning the organized protest procession, which will be held on February 28, 2018, from 10:30 to 12:30, on the route “Nezavisimost” (Largo) Square – Ministry of Energy.

New Edition of the Booklet Showcasing Best Projects Awarded at the BAPRA Bright Awards 2017 Competition

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In today’s world, communications are changing, our perceptions of public engagement are reversing, and the challenges to the PR industry are getting bigger. With a sense of well accomplished work, our colleagues from the Bulgarian Association of PR Agencies (BAPRA), which is a member of BICA, share the new edition of their bi-lingual booklet of best projects awarded at the BAPRA Bright Awards 2017.

Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association is a traditional partner in the event and in the distribution of its editions.

The winning campaigns in each category are presented in relation to the recognition they got in the contest. Also, all participating projects are revealed by categories. They are listed alphabetically, according to the names of the agencies that submitted them.

The rich content of the booklet includes detailed information about the international jury, as well as each of the categories: “Debut of the Year”, “Innovative Campaign”, “Digital Campaign”, “Special Events”, “Related Cause”, “Employer Branding”, “Internal Communication Campaign”, “Internal PR Campaign”, “Corporate PR”, “Public Relations Campaign”, “Communication Campaign of the Year” and “Agency of the Year”. Sponsors, partners and members of the Bulgarian Association of PR Agencies (BAPRA) are also presented.

“The responsibility to us as communicators is growing, the importance of high morality and ethics in the profession is becoming increasingly important. Today, each of us is the media and the mission of PR professionals requires the messages we broadcast to be not just influential but also true, real and correct”, wrote Katya Dimitrova, President of BAPRA from 2016 to 2018 in the preface to the publication.

For more information, see the full bi-lingual issue in electronic format HERE.

BICA Representatives Meet With the Confederation of Tunisian Citizen Enterprises (CONECT)

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Business meeting was held today between representatives of the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA) and the Confederation of Tunisian Citizen Enterprises (CONECT).

Executive Director Dobrin Ivanov and Director of Industrial Policies Theodore Dechev took part in the meeting on behalf of the Association, and the Tunisian employers’ organization was represented by Vice-Presidents Fued Geddish and Aden Buassida.

The meeting parties discussed future cooperation in exchanging information between the two employers’ organizations. CONECT has interests in machine building, road construction, photovoltaic power plants and, above all, the supply of metal structures.

The Confederation of Tunisian Citizen Enterprises has strong contacts on official level with all other African organizations, that might act as a gateway to the African market, which has recently evolved with very fast rates. On European level, the Tunisian employers’ organization cooperates with Germany and France.

It is expected that a memorandum will be signed between the two employers’ organizations during the forthcoming bilateral business forum in the spring of 2018, organized with the assistance of Honorary Consul of Jordan in Bulgaria, Hasan Barmauy.

CONECT is one of the main Tunisian employers’ organizations uniting small, medium and large public and private enterprises, working in different areas. It has regional offices in almost all 24 regions of the country.

2018 State Budget of the Republic of Bulgaria: BICA’s Position

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In a letter to the mass media, the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association expressed its position on the State Budget Project of the Republic of Bulgaria for the year of 2018.

BICA’s position focuses mainly on the projected budget parameters for 2018, and the policies of the Bulgarian government envisaged. It is consistent with the business recommendations that have already been made with regards to the 2018 Budget aiming to improve the Bulgarian business environment.

According to the Association, Bulgarian economy might grow at a rate of between 3.8 and 4.2% in 2018.

The projected GDP growth could be achieved and exceeded if the government directs systematic efforts to address the core business problems.

BICA approves and supports the tendency of maintaining a low share of funds reallocated from the state budget.

BICA believes that the state should strive for a complete balancing of public finances, and even in the context of a rising economic cycle and accelerated economic growth, employers would support a state budget with a planned surplus that would be directed at reducing government debt.

Employers strongly oppose the administrative increase of the minimum insurance thresholds for 2018 by 3.9%, recommending a more gradual increase in the minimum insurance income for farmers and tobacco growers.

According to BICA, the increase оf minimal insurance income, determined by the Minister of Labor and Social Policy, is without logical economic argumentation and with proven and assessed negative impact on the labor market, employment, unemployment will undoubtedly lead to an increase of the “gray economy” in the labor relations, as well to a decrease in the net income of thousands employed in a number of economic activities.

BICA notes that the roll-out of e-services and the creation of a functional e-government are dramatically late and that the scope of e-services is in fact extremely limited, despite the amount of money earmarked for the purpose.

The Association insists on formulating and financing policies for the introduction of e-Justice, e-health, digitalisation of the cadastre, etc.

According to BICA, the deployment of e-services and the establishment of a functional e-government will undoubtedly reduce the administrative burden on business and citizens, will reduce corruption and the staff in the state administration. Goals that each government puts in the preparation of the state budget for the next year and which have not been achieved for 27 years.