Archive for February, 2014

Energy companies told to hand back ?400m

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Ofgem says suppliers not doing enough to pay back ?400m to customers on accounts closed, typically because they had changed supplier or moved house

Bulgarian Municipalities Sue Govt over Regional Devt Funds Allocation

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Four municipalities ran by mayors from center-right party GERB are suing the government over the distribution of BGN 290 M in public funding.

The municipalities of Gabrovo, Kozloduy, Byala Slatina and Oryahovo oppose the distribution of financial resources under the public investment program “Growth and sustainable regional development.”

The Gabrovo municipality submitted its complaint with the Supreme Administrative Court (VAS) on Wednesday, while the municipalities of Kozloduy, Byala Slatina and Oryahovo municipalities followed suit on Friday with a joint complaint filed by the Access to Information Program Foundation, according to reports of

The local authorities want VAS to revoke the ministerial decrees on the establishment of the fund and the selection of projects.

The three municipalities also want VAS to stop the government program until the final pronouncement on the case.

The municipalities insist that Bulgaria’s coalition government illegitimately adopted a decree with retroactive effect. The complaints draw attention to the fact that the committee approved projects submitted just before the publication of the decree.

The municipalities also argue that the fund operated under opaque rules in violation of the State Budget Act.

The municipalities of Gabrovo, Kozloduy, Byala Slatina and Oryahovo cite breaches of the principles of equal treatment and competitiveness due to the failure to specify deadlines for the submission and review of projects.

The complaints also emphasize that no opportunity for reviewing objections was envisaged as part of the approval process.

The three municipalities argue that the legal breaches and the lack of transparency created preconditions for priority treatment of allies of the ruling parties and an opaque and biased distribution of public financial resources in the run-up to the European Parliament elections in 2014.

The three municipalities claim that the committee had examined a total of 1050 projects in the period January 27 – February 4, or 56 hours at the most, taking into account the New Year holidays, meaning that they processed over 18 projects per hour.

The municipalities underscore that the committee consists of ministers, whose main job is different, and that the members of the panel hardly had time to even read the documents.

The Road Infrastructure Agency is the only unit to have taken concrete steps to absorb the resources granted under the fund. The Agency announced public procurement procedures for the selection of a contractor. The Agency was given BGN 50 M under the “Growth and sustainable regional development” fund.


Steven Aldrich of GoDaddy: 50% of SMBs Still Working in the Stone Age

Friday, February 28th, 2014

According to a newly released GoDaddy survey, even with all of the affordable and easy to use apps available today, there is a large number of small businesses out there that just haven’t made the leap to the cloud.

Steven Aldrich, SVP of Applications at GoDaddy, joins us to share and discuss some of the findings from the study, including what working in the Stone Age is costing small businesses that are slow to step away from the pad and pencil.

* * * * *

small businesses not using technologySmall Business Trends: Can give us a little bit of your personal background?

Steven Aldrich: I’m an entrepreneur at heart; paper route, summer storage business in college, built lofts for folks with my roommate, started a business and have been CEO of a couple.

I was fortunate enough to become part of GoDaddy as we were transforming the company to help really bring individuals through the process of successfully founding, running and growing their businesses. I’ve been involved in small business my whole life at this stage.

Small Business Trends: Can you talk about the tax survey you just released?

Steven Aldrich: GoDaddy has historically been known as a domain name registrar. Meaning, we help small businesses pick the right name for their business and then use that to build websites, host their website, send email.

The last few years we started to broaden that set of services we’re bringing to small businesses. One of the services we added was online bookkeeping. We wanted to take a pulse of how small businesses today, are thinking about both, keeping records for their business, tax time, given that, that’s a timely topic right now and just hear how businesses are doing on those couple of topics and that’s what we’re going to talk about.

Small Business Trends: Can you give us some of the high level key findings from the survey?

Steven Aldrich: The one that is not surprising, but always surprises if that makes sense, is that small businesses, by and large, are still trying to maintain an understanding of their business by hand.

We found that over 50% of small businesses still track how they’re doing on either a spreadsheet or pencil and paper. When we talked to small business owners and asked them why they said, ‘I know it’s not perfect but I’m able to get by.’

Then when we asked them if they were confident in knowing how they were doing. Almost half of them said, ‘No.’ Then we said, ‘Are you asking an accountant for help?’ Again, half of them said that they never talk to an accountant. Those that do, only half of those talk to their accountant more than once a year.

What we found was that spreadsheets and paper are still the rule, rather than the exception.

Small Business Trends: Wow, I’m seeing here more than half of SMB’s still use pen and paper or a spreadsheet to track expenses?

Steven Aldrich: Yes, and what that means is two things. One, it’s extra work. When we talk to small business owners, they get so excited about finding customers, delighting those customers, having those customers come back and delivering excellent products and services to them. If you’re doing this work by hand, this is one of the least pleasant tasks that small business owners talk about – keeping the books and doing their taxes.

So it gets pushed to the bottom of the stack, and at the end of the day, they collapse into bed. This is the stuff that doesn’t get entered in the spreadsheet or doesn’t get written down in the ledger or in the expense book.

That means the small business owners not as up to date on what’s going on with their business – really come home to roost at tax time. That’s when you need to have your revenue and your expenses ready to roll so that you just pay your fair share of taxes, not too much and not too little.

In the survey, this time a huge percentage of these small business owners, 40%, are taking 6 or more hours and many of them actually said it was taking days to just organize the information for their taxes. One of the things we know that means is the business owners are either not spending time with their customers, not spending time with their family, or not sleeping. None of those three things are good.

Small Business Trends: What’s the difference between those who actually do use an online service versus the small businesses not using technology and still operating like they’re in the Stone Age?

Steven Aldrich: We asked folks that are using the GoDaddy Online Bookkeeping service, ‘How long did it take you and how confident were you in the outcome?’ We found it takes six or more hours, even days, using manual methods or spreadsheets.

But folks using online bookkeeping from GoDaddy took two hours on average. That’s because the data is being collected everyday automatically, behind the scenes from your bank accounts, your credit card accounts, your PayPal or Etsy, your Amazon or Ebay accounts. Your invoices can be sent and payments tracked automatically.

So, you’ve got an ongoing record of how you’re doing and you’ve got it on the desktop, you’ve got it on your mobile device. When it comes time to getting your schedule C ready, which is what small business owners almost all file with their 1040′s, they’re ready and literally they hit the button that says schedule C worksheet. They take a look, make sure any uncategorized stuff gets taken care of at that time, and then they can enter that data into a tax prep program like TurboTax.

Or hand it off to their accountant, which we’ve heard now from lots of folks saves not only the business owner time, but it also saves the business owner money. Because they don’t have to go and pay an accountant to do all the data entry. Which the accountant doesn’t want to do anyway. Right? They want to do the value added stuff.

Small Business Trends: There’s a lot of information coming out of this study. Can you give me one or two things that surprised you in the results?

Steven Aldrich: When you ask the small business owner. ‘How confident are you that you know what your tax situation is going to be for the last year?’ Only 15% said that they knew how much they owed.

That’s a wake up call to the community saying, ‘We’ve got to help small business owners break this Gordian Knot of fear around taxes and not knowing that there’s a better way to stay on top of the business.’

There is the ability now for that small business owner to not only have their cake and eat it too, but also know how they’re doing without having to become an accountant themselves. They can spend their time on their business and we’re delighted to be able to be a part of that at GoDaddy.

Small Business Trends: Where can people learn more about the survey and things that GoDaddy is doing specifically for small businesses?

Steven Aldrich: I’d recommend they go to It’s a really terrific place to find the breadth of things that we do for the small business owner.

We’ve got the ability for people to get a domain, so they can choose a name for their business. Get a website. Get hosted. We’ve got some new services around finding new customers called GetFound. We’ve got the ability to run your business and be more productive with things like Office365 from GoDaddy and invoicing and bookkeeping tools as well.

This interview on small businesses not using technology is part of the One on One interview series with thought-provoking entrepreneurs, authors and experts in business today. This transcript has been edited for publication. To hear audio of the full interview, click on the player above. 

The post Steven Aldrich of GoDaddy: 50% of SMBs Still Working in the Stone Age appeared first on Small Business Trends.


New Ukraine Leadership Vows to Expel Russian Fleet from Crimea

Friday, February 28th, 2014

The new Ukrainian government will look to scrap a 2010 deal, which extends Russia’s Black Sea Fleet lease in the Crimea Region until 2042.

The deal, known as the Kharkiv Accords or Kharkiv Pact, was signed by Ukraine’s ousted President Viktor Yanukovych and his Russian counterpart at the time Dmitry Medvedev in 2010. It extends Russia’s Black Sea Fleet lease in the port city of Sevastopol until 2042, in return for cheaper gas prices.

“Due to Russia’s position on Crimea, the Kharkiv agreements should be immediately denounced”, Ukrainian Parliament Deputy Oleg Lyashko said, cited by ITAR-TASS agency.

The Crimea region is a contested area in the current Ukrainian crisis. With a majority ethnic Russian population, support for Yanukovych runs high. However, local Crimean Tatars and the Ukrainian population support the new leadership in Kiev. This has led to clashes over the past days in the region’s capital Simferopol.

The autonomous Crimean Parliament announced on Thursday it plans to run a referendum for the future of the region.


Bulgaria May Set Up Out-Of-Court Dispute Settlement Body in Commerce

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Bulgaria mulls setting up an authority tasked with out-of-court dispute resolution between producers and traders, according to Deputy Prime Minister Daniela Bobeva.

Speaking Friday in Parliament, she noted that the step had yielded good results in the countries where it had been applied.

Bobev, as cited by the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency, informed that a set of changes to the Consumer Protection Act would be submitted to Parliament soon.

Bulgaria’s Deputy Minister pointed out that the restoration of the balance between producers and traders in the sphere of commerce was a major priority of the government, adding that the goal was to be achieved mainly through the introduction of legal changes aimed at guaranteeing the equal treatment of the two sides in the process.

She expressed regrets that the talks with major retail chains on the matter did not run smoothly, stressing that the legislation targeted unfair commercial practices in general, regardless of the entity which applied them.

Bobeva stated that statistics indicated a “certain degree of concentration” in domestic retail trade in several major chains of stores over the past 7-8 years.

Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister argued that “particularly unfavorable trends” were discernible as regards the participation of local producers in retail trade.

On February 11, representatives of the government informed at a business forum that domestic legislation concerning retail changes would be amended. Prime Minister Oresharski leveled criticism at the sector, stressing that local and international suppliers were being treated differently. Representatives of retail chains opposed the measure, warning that the new provisions would result in dramatic price spikes.

Bobeva informed Friday that the authorities had conducted 733 inspections at supermarkets and hypermarkets across the country, issuing 7 administrative penalty statements and 34 lists of recommendations for removing the irregularities detected. She said that the most common violations were related to labeling requirements.

As regards the idea to close the Bulgaria’s State Commission on Commodity Exchanges and Wholesale Markets, she said that the process of including the commission into the structure of the Ministry of Economy and Energy aimed to boost the control functions of the authority.

She insisted that the step was not simply aimed at cutting administrative staff but at enhancing oversight.

Bobeva also informed that an analysis of the current state of commodity exchanges and wholesale market had shown that a large number of them were experiencing serious financial difficulties.


Ludogorets come back from dead to down Lazio

Friday, February 28th, 2014


Substitute Juninho Quixad? held his nerve late on as PFC Ludogorets Razgrad fought back from two goals down to draw 3-3 with SS Lazio and progress 4-3 on aggregate.

Goals from Keita Bald? – the second fastest in UEFA Europa League history – and Brayan Perea had put Lazio in a commanding position. Roman Bezjak and Hristo Zlatinski then swung the pendulum back in favour of the hosts, before Miroslav Klose hit back. More drama was to come, though, as Quixad? rounded off the scoring to set up a round of 16 showdown with either FC Dynamo Kyiv or Valencia CF.

This round of 32 second leg was precisely 16.88 seconds old when Bald? made the breakthrough. Collecting Vladislav Stoyanov’s errant clearance on the left, the 18-year-old winger darted into the area and bundled the ball in from an acute angle. Bald? came to the fore again moments later, side-stepping his marker and firing centimetres wide of a post.

The passing was pure and precise from the Biancocelesti, who looked in little danger of conceding until Marcelinho flashed a shot wide after finding space inside the box. At the other end, Antonio Candreva should arguably have done better when he failed to find the target from a close-range free-kick.

There was no let-up from Lazio at the start of the second period, with Candreva curling over after combining intuitively with Lucas Biglia. The second goal they had threatened soon arrived, however. After breaking at pace, Ogenyi Onazi’s judiciously weighted pass found Perea, who calmly slotted past Stoyanov.

The Bulgarian champions’ response was spirited as Bezjak reduced the deficit minutes after rattling the woodwork. F?bio Espinho dissected Lazio’s back line and the Slovenia striker thumped the ball into the top corner via a deflection. Zlatinski restored parity on the night 11 minutes later, Lazio keeper Federico Marchetti spilling his 25-metre effort over the line.

Their momentum was promptly punctured by Klose, though, as he followed up Biglia’s parried header from close in. Not to be denied, Ludogorets landed the final blow on the Italian team in the 88th minute when Quixad? raced onto a long pass and flicked the ball over Marchetti.


Switzerland Freezes Yanukovych Assets

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Swiss authorities announced they have launched an investigation into Viktor Yanukovych’s financial transactions on grounds on suspicions of money-laundering.

The measure comes short after Ukraine’s interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk claimed some USD 70 B had been “stolen” by Yanukovych, his family, and other high officials, including money from Russian loans.

Switzerland also decided to freeze assets held by the ousted president and his son Oleksandr as well as those of 20 Ukrainian representatives that were acting as high officials during Yanukovych’s presidency. Among them are former Prime Minister Mykola Azarov, his deputy Sergey Arbuzov, and ex-Interior Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko, Switzerland government’s website has reported.


Yanukovych Says He Will Continue to Fight for Ukraine’s Future

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych has vowed to fight back for office and to struggle against “terror and fear”.

He described recent events in Ukraine as “lawlessness, lack of authority, and terror” and said he deems the Ukrainian parliament “illegitimate”, the BBC quoted him as saying.

During what was his first public appearance since fleeing Kiev last week, Yanukovych asserted he had not been “overthrown”, thus repeating earlier remarks in an official statement claiming he still considered himself President.

He explained he had been forced to leave Ukraine after threats to his life and would come back when there were guarantees for his security and that of his family.

Yanukovych made it clear he “never gave orders for the police to shoot”, referring to the bloody crackdown of last week’s renewed unrest. He added, however, that the police have the right to self-defence.

Yanukovych criticized Western governments for aggravating the Ukrainian crisis, but also expressed astonishment at the lack of reaction by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General declared earlier he would ask Russia to extradite Yanukovych if he is actually hiding there.

His current residence was proved to be in Russia as his news conference was held in the Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, near the Ukrainian border.


Broken Nose at Turkish Parliament Over Cram School Bill

Friday, February 28th, 2014

A fight broke out between Turkish lawmakers during disputes and debates on the education bill, Thursday.

Deputies from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) were involved in the scuffle when tension escalated during the session, Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reports.

CHP Kayseri Deputy Sevki Kulkuoglu had to be hospitalized, reportedly with a nasal fraction, after being punched by AKP Deputy Metin Kulunk.

Once the bill is recorded in the Official Gazette, cram schools will be closed down – or “transformed” as termed by the government – while the senior-level bureaucratic administration at the Education Ministry will be entirely changed, with the exception of the undersecretary, Hurriyet Daily elaborates.


Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov Sends A Message For Peace In Ukraine

Friday, February 28th, 2014

The Bulgarian tennis player Grigor Dimitrov joined several of his colleagues in a video message for peace in Ukraine. 

The initiative is of the top Ukrainian tennis player Alexandr Dolgopolov who published a YouTube video with the messages of some of the best and highest ranking tennis players in the world.

“Hi, my name is Grigor Dimitrov and I send all my support for the peace in Ukraine and its people”, Dimitrov said.

Besides, Dimitrov, in the video message were included Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Gael Monfils.