BORISOV'S FIASCO

by Anthony Georgieff

GERB rulers fail to tackle economy, outlooks for 2013 are even bleaker

bulgarian economy.jpg

Nowhere is the abyss between what Boyko Borisov's GERB says it is doing and what it in fact does so obvious than in the economy of what firmly remains the EU's poorest state. Despite the flamboyant media appearances and the merry assertions by senior GERB officials that Bulgaria is grappling the economic crisis successfully, the country remains bogged down in an economic deadend that seems endless unless new idea, new policies and first and foremost new personalities are brought in as soon as possible.

The findings of a poll conducted at the beginning of December by the Bulgarian Industrial Association indicate that 75 percent of Bulgaria's businesses think 2012 was worse than the preceding year in terms of overall economic performance. 21 percent say it remained unchanged, and just 2 percent claim it improved.

Over 500 corporate managers and owners participated in the poll.

Of them 46 percent think that the economic status of their companies deteriorated in 2012, 33 percent say they managed to keep their economic performance at 2011 levels, and 16 percent claim their economic indicators improved.

According to the poll, sales across the board plummeted by 61 percent on an year earlier, followed by investments (a 51 percent decrease), production (a 49 percent decrease) and jobs (a 47 percent decrease).

79 percent of those interviewed consider the GERB's methods of tackling the situation "a failure." 12 percent remain undecided, while 9 percent are in approval.

About a half of those interviewed are pessimistic about what 2013 holds for the Bulgarian economy and anticipate a further deterioration. 30 percent do not expect any change and 16 percent hope for an improvement.

65 percent of those polled do not plan to apply for EU funding in 2013. 26 percent intend to apply while 9 percent remain undecided. 39 percent of the respondents who do not plan to apply cite lack of own funding as the main reason. 14 percent doubt the transparency of the application process.

53 percent of those polled will keep the salaries in the companies at their previous year's levels, 12 percent intend to slash them, and 9 percent have not made a decision.

Over half of the respondents think crime, corruption, the grey economy and administrative pressures have increased in 2012.

This is exactly the opposite of what Boyko Borisov's GERB says it has achieved.

With its policies GERB has failed to encourage the development of small- and medium-sized enterprises, the backbone of any country's middle class, critics of the GERB rulers say. Despite the claims of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov that his associates have "bridled" the "monopolies" (large companies in telecommunications, oil and energy distribution, and banking), in fact the opposite is true.

Some observers say that while the situation in Bulgaria looks reasonable on the macro level, things have deteriorated significantly at the micro level, which is one of the reasons why foreign investment and property acquisitions in Bulgaria have plummeted and in some areas are non-existent.

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