Archive for January, 2014

Bulgarian Banker Vassilev Claims to Contribute 10% of National GDP

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Bulgarian banker Tsvetan Vassilev’s companies contribute more that 10% of the country’s GDP, according to Vassilev’s own assessment.

Friday German daily Handelsblatt published an interview with the controversial Buglarian businessman, in which he commented on Bulgaria’s business and political climate in the EU context.

“I employ 20,000 people in Bulgaria, and indirectly that number is over 150,000. My businesses make over 10% of Bulgaria’s GDP. Given this, I know very well Bulgaria’s true problems,” said the banker.

Vasilev admitted that corruption is a grave ill in Bulgaria, but said this is something that politicians, rather than businesspeople, are to be held responsible for.

“The most serious problem in Bulgaria is that politicians think they are all powerful and untouchable. This will change sooner or later. The crisis speeds up those processes and the political system in Bulgaria will very soon change,” concluded the banker.

Tsvetan Vassilev’s Corporate Commercial Bank was the object of controversy in 2012-3, after it became known that funds of Bulgarian state companies are heavily concentrated in the entity.

At the same time, Vassilev and the bank are believed to maintain close ties with the influential and expanding New Bulgarian Media group, controlled by controversial MP Delyan Peevski and his mother Irena Krasteva.

The banker has denied allegations of such ties.

The June 2013 nomination of Peevski for head of Bulgaria’s influential State Agency for National Security (DANS) triggered massive street protests against the then-new cabinet of PM Plamen Oresharski.

Source

Controversial Bulgarian Banker Wants Solidarity from EU

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Richer EU member states need to show more solidarity with new members like Bulgaria and Romania to boost their economies, argued influential Bulgarian banker Tsvetan Vasilev.

Speaking in an interview for German paper Handelsblatt, Vasilev argued that the EU has shown more solidarity with poorer members like Greece and Portugal in the past, and said the Union must return to those values.

“Durign the last 30 years chiefly German and French companies started to work in Eastern Europe without any competition. Instead of that, we needed help to develop our own economies, but this somehow did not happen,” commented the Bulgarian businessman.

At the same time, Vasilev argued that companies coming from Western Europe have often little knowledge of the inner economic and political workings in eastern EU member states.

The Bulgarian banker downplayed western member states’ fears of an oncoming migrant wave from Bulgaria and Romania, after the fall of all working restrictions January 1, 2014.

In the interview, Vasilev, who owns the influential Corporate Commercial Bank, estimated that companies controlled by him make for over 10% of Bulgaria’s GDP.

“I employ 20,000 people in Bulgaria, and indirectly that number is over 150,000. My businesses make over 10% of Bulgaria’s GDP. Given this, I know very well Bulgaria’s true problems,” said the banker.

The Corporate Commercial Bank was the object of controversy in 2012-3, after it became known that funds of Bulgarian state companies are heavily concentrated in the entity.

At the same time, Vasilev and the bank are known to maintain close ties with the influential and expanding New Bulgarian Media group, controlled by controversial MP Delyan Peevski and his mother Irena Krasteva.

In the Handelsblatt interview, the influential banker admitted that corruption is a grave problem for Bulgaria, but said that this is something that politicians, rather than businesspeople, are to be held responsible for.

“The most serious problem in Bulgaria is that politicians think they are all powerful and untouchable. This will change sooner or later. The crisis speeds up those processes and the political system in Bulgaria will very soon change,” concluded Vasilev.

Source

Ukrainian President Signs Amnesty Law, Protesters Unmoved

Friday, January 31st, 2014

The Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has signed the Amnesty Law, which provides for the release of protesters detained during the anti-government rallies in Kiev.

Nonetheless, the opposition has rejected the terms of the law, which apply only if protesters abandon the government buildings they’ve occupied, the BBC specifies.

“I have the feeling that this man (Yanukovych) is trying to gain some time. But we will not allow to be cheated”, opposition leader Vitali Klitschko told reporters after the Ukrainian parliament signed the bill on Wednesday.

The anti-government protests in Kiev began in November, after the President reversed a decision to sign an Association Agreement with the EU.

Source

Turkish Govt Fires 700 Police Officers to Tame Corruption Scandal

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Some 700 police officers have been newly fired in Turkey in the aftermath of a corruption scandal targeting high ranking officials close to PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s cabinet.

This makes the total number of police officers fired or moved to another position 5,000 since the outbreak of the scandal in December, report Turkish media.

The Hurriyet newspaper has shown a photograph displaying staff from a court in Istanbul carrying boxes with documents said to come from the officers of two prosecutors who were removed from their positions earlier this week.

In addition to police officers, some 200 judges and prosecutors have become victims of what some media are calling a “purge.”

The cabinet’s actions are motivated with Erdogan’s claims that the probe is unfairly orchestrated by forces aiming to illicitly overthrow the government.

The scandal has reopened rifts in the Turkish political elite and have exerted negative effects upon the Turkish lira.

Friday another MP from Erdogans AKP left the party, making the total number of defections since December to 8.

As a result of the scandal, in December the Turkish PM replaced close to half of his cabinet.

Source

Bulgarian Employers Present Top 3 List of Obstructions to Businesses

Friday, January 31st, 2014

The Chair of the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry listed key obstructions faced by businesses, including red tape, constantly changing laws and limited access to funding.

Tsvetan Simeonov’s top 3-list was presented at a press conference on Friday of representative of national employers’ associations.

The press conference was organized to present a joint list of priorities and demands of the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA), the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) and the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA).

Simeonov, as cited by news.bg, warned that the BCCI would reconsider its membership in the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation if the non-payment of social security contributions by employers was listed as an offence in the new Penal Code.

He insisted that the economy would not gain pace amid the existing conditions, taking into account the current state of domestic and foreign investments.

BIA Chair Bozhidar Danev emphasized that Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev had vowed upon assuming office to veto any law which had reached the stage of parliamentary debates without an impact assessment, stressing that they had not been provided such a paper.

He added that Bulgarian laws required a repeat impact assessment every six months, which had not happened so far.

Danev also expressed BIA’s disapproval of the fact that Bulgarian municipalities applied different tariffs for issuing permits, adding that the Sofia Municipality used different tariffs for issuing building permits for the different regions of Sofia.

As regards Bulgaria’s economic development in 2014, employers expressed negative expectations, the only optimistic forecast being that of BICA Chair Vasil Velev.

The representatives of employers’ associations presented a list of key priorities in the sphere of business environment, including the reduction and simplification of the regulatory burden, the mandatory preparation of impact assessment of all laws and progress in the adoption of e-government, insisting on the difference between e-government and electronic services.

Employers in Bulgaria also expressed hopes for a successful conclusion of the past programming period and the negotiation of simplified and standardized procedures for the preparation, submission and evaluation of projects in the next programming period (2014-2020), as well as the swift and fair settlement of disputes in the cases of financial corrections.

Source

Geneva-2 Syria Talks to Resume Feb 10

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Talks between the Syrian government and rebel forces are set to continue in Geneva on February 10, said UN and Arab League special envoy for Syria Lakhdar Brahimi.

The first round of talks, known as Geneva-2, began last weekend and is coming to a close Friday.

“This was the beginning, upon which we can build. It is modest, yet still it is a beginning,” said Brahimi.

The special envoy said that there are a couple of points of agreement between the two sides.

One among them is the start date for the next round of Geneva-2 negotiations, February 10.

The final decision however will be taken after consultations of Syrian government representatives with officials in Damascus.

Source

The Danube to Start Freezing

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Within the next few days the Bulgarian stretch of the Danube River will start freezing over.

According to Georgi Georgiev of the Agency for Studying and Maintenance of the Danube, the current water temperature is 1.8?C and with air temperatures below -10?C by Monday, the river will start freezing over.

According to Georgiev, the ice will first appear at Silistra where the temperature on Friday morning was -20?C, and will spread upstream towards Ruse.

Source

Shell’s capitulation will trouble Big Oil

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Companies must consider what investor activism could mean for them – immediate targets are the North American independents like Hess and Anadarko

Sellafield radiation alert resolved

Friday, January 31st, 2014

Alarm at Cumbrian nuclear plant that led to its partial closure is found to have been triggered by naturally occurring radon gas, company confirms

Bulgaria Maintains Above-EU Average Unemployment

Friday, January 31st, 2014

The unemployment rate in Bulgaria has reached 13.1% in December according to Eurostat, up from 13% in November.

In terms of the number of people out of work, the figure has climbed to 441,000 in December, from 437,000 the previous month.

The average unemployment rate in the EU for December is 10.7%, while in the Eurozone countries it is 12%. The total number of unemployed in the EU is 26.2 million people.

Alarming is also the fact that youth unemployment in Bulgaria has gone up to 29.4% in December, up 0.6% compared to November.

Source

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