Archive for June, 2018

The Number of Uninhabited Dwellings in Bulgaria is Growing, Could be Used for Social Housing

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

The number of uninhabited housing in Bulgaria is growing. They are 1,220,416 or more than 31 percent of all homes in the country, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works (MRDPW) announced.
 
At the same time, more and more people do not have the chance to acquire their own residential property or need support to rent. Therefore, one of the main tasks in housing management in Bulgaria is to find ways to reduce the number of uninhabited dwellings and increase their usability. This is one of the goals set out in the National Housing Strategy, which was uploaded to the MRDPW website for public discussion.

The strategy states that housing is constantly growing. In the period up to 2020, the construction boom from 2007-2009 will be surpassed with the construction of about 20,000 dwellings per year. These forecasts are based on the expected economic growth in the country and the growing investment interest, which is expressed in the search for land and the large number of issued building permits. The number of dwellings exceeds the number of households and housing consumption is comparable to that in the EU (550 dwellings / 1000 inhabitants). But the problem is that financial access to housing is getting worse. The cost / income ratio is rising. In 2015, according to NSI data, the cost of housing exceeds 6.6 times the income. For comparison in 2013 this ratio is 6.3 or the share of people in need of support for the acquisition or rental of housing is increasing.
 
Another problem identified in the strategy is that public housing is reduced to a symbolic share of 2.4 percent. It is difficult to manage because of its dispersion among private condominiums and municipalities have limited resources to maintain it.

The conclusion is that it is necessary to find mechanisms for adapting the existing housing stock and its rational use. One of the ideas is to make tax changes by providing incentives to provide an unoccupied dwelling for social purposes. The purpose of the public discussion of the strategy is to gather ideas and to develop the best mechanism for the benefit of all stakeholders, the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works said.

The Strategy also states that over 91 percent of the available housing has a reliable construction – massive reinforced concrete, panel or solid. More than three quarters of the country’s apartments are in buildings over 30 years old. The lack of maintenance of these buildings leads to a rapid deterioration of their condition, so there is a strong need for massive renovation of the existing housing stock and increase its usability, says the strategy. Another conclusion is that the share of homeowners who find it difficult to withhold their property under current market conditions is increasing. However, due to the fact that many people have difficulty allocating funds to maintain their homes, it is suggested that they can use low-interest loans or other financial instruments that can be combined with a grant. The amount of aid will also depend on the measures to be financed. It is suggested that support for the improvement of constructive sustainability and energy efficiency be realized only in case the renovation does not involve more than 50% of the value in new construction. In the case of mass, updating by fulfilling all the prescriptions of the technical passport would cover less than 30 percent of the value of new construction.

Active and systematic housing policies need to be clearly defined at the central and local levels. At the central level, a body administering a comprehensive housing subsidy system and implementing a national housing policy is needed. At local level, capacity is needed to create and implement municipal housing programs. This does not exempt the state from responsibilities for social housing and the renewal of the existing fund to meet the commitments to the New Agenda for EU Cities and Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development, the MRDPW message said.

Source

The Center of Sofia will be Closed for Extensive Renovation from Monday

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

On Monday July 2 will begin the renovations in the center of Sofia between Alexander Nevski squares, National Assembly, Tsar Osvoboditel boulevards and Vasil Levski, Crystal garden and Moskovska Street. The repairs will end next year.

The square surrounding the cathedral will be a completely pedestrian area.

The total value of the project is 21.5 million leva (with 19.5 million leva being European funding). The plant incldes that all the rubbish bins are underground, the construction of 5 toilets, 3 charging stations for electric cars, pavement repairs and pavements where necessary, replacement of the lamps.

The company doing the repairs is “PST Group”.

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More and more Bulgarians Travel Abroad, Greece Remains the Preferred Destination

Saturday, June 30th, 2018

The Bulgarian National Statistical Institute published its latest survey during the week, according to which Bulgarians are traveling abroad more and more. According to NSI data, trips of Bulgarians abroad increased by 12% compared to the same period in 2017.

It turns out that nearly 730,000 of our compatriots have chosen to travel outside of Bulgaria in the last month, with 34% crossing the border for vacation. New destinations like Italy, Belgium, Serbia and Spain have emerged as a trend in recent years on the tourist map. The increase of the number of foreign travelers was reported by the NSI already in April – 10% more than last year.
 
Despite the new holiday spots, Greece remains the favorite destination. Just in May 184,000 Bulgarians chose the Greek sun for their first summer vacation. From this year in Greece there is a new tourist tax, which is paid on site.

Greek hoteliers are convinced that storms and recent floods will not affect the tourist season. The natural disaster, however, has led to the cancellation of a small part of recent reservations.

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This Week in Small Business, How Will the Supreme Court’s Sales Tax Ruling Affect You?

Friday, June 29th, 2018

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It’s time for another edition of This Week in Small Business. In this series, I take a look at three of my favorite articles to appear on Small Business Trends in the past week.

I’m usually joined by a guest to go over these stories and this week I’m rejoined by my friend and small business ecommerce expert John “Colderice” Lawson.

This week, we started our discussion talking about independent retailers. As Rieva Lesonsky reminded us this week, July is Independent Retailers Month.

John and I spoke on the importance and value that independent retailers provide to local economies. Check out the video to see what difference just $10 spent at an independent retailer can make.

Importance of Online Sales Tax Supreme Court Ruling

We then switched focus to a subject I brought up in last week’s video, on the Supreme Court’s ruling that states can require collection of sales tax for online sales. John does not see this decision as a positive for business.

“The effect is going to be laborious for a lot of business owners,” he says.

Check out our whole discussion on the Supreme Court ruling and lasting impact it will have on businesses like yours.

Finally, we talk about the recent submission from the Young Entrepreneur Council and their picks for the top podcasts for small business owners and entrepreneurs. You’ll find out why I was happy to talk about this particular subject this week.

For the rest of the week in small business news, check out the roundup below.

Remember, you’ll get notified the moment new This Week in Small Business videos are released — every Friday afternoon — when you subscribe to the Small Business Trends YouTube channel today.

Management

6 Must-Haves to Include on Your Small Business Mid-Year Legal Checklist

Summer has officially started. This means beaches and barbecues, summer vacation for the kids, and maybe a little extra juggling for parents. It also means we’re halfway through the year, making it the perfect time to assess the legal and tax health of your business.

Interview Questions You May and May Not Ask Under New Massachusetts Pay Equity Law

On July 1, a new equal pay law will go into effect in Massachusetts — and it will impact small businesses in ways of which you may want to be aware. The Massachusetts Equal Pay Act (MEPA) is intended to ensure greater fairness and provide clarity on what constitutes unlawful wage discrimination.

Marketing

Google Ditches AdWords for Ads, Aims at Smarter, Mobile Search

Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL) is ditching AdWords and DoubleClick. Google Rebrands Ad Offerings In an attempt to simplify how you create and manage ad campaigns with Google, the search engine company is rebranding these services as Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, and Google Ad Manager.

Introbrand Aims to Help Small Businesses Create DIY Effects for Your Online Video

Video has become the calling card of today’s digital business ecosystem. And for many small businesses, the DIY route is the way to go because of the cost. Introbrand has created a service which fills a particular niche in this segment. It allows you to make intros, outros and logo animations for your videos.

Retail Trends

Selling to Walmart Doesn’t Have to Be Hard, 3 Tips From the Retailer’s Annual Open Call Event

Over 450 small businesses met buyers head-on at Walmart’s fifth annual Open Call event recently. More than 100 entrepreneurs pitching their American-made products for sale with the retail giant were rewarded by getting to move onto the next step in the process.  A few exceptional pitches landed businesses a deal on the spot.

Small Business Operations

Amazon  WorkDocs Introduces Multi-User Collaboration with Benefits for Small Business Teams

Amazon Web Services (AWS) just announced a new collaborative editing feature for Amazon WorkDocs with big implications for small business teams. The new capability is made possible as a result of a partnership with Hancom, a company which provides office productivity software.

Your  Employees Could Save 33 Minutes and 36 Seconds Per Week with Visual Communication

New research has revealed employees can save 33 minutes and 36 seconds over a 40 hour week by simply using visual communications.

Social Media

Facebook Tools for Video Creators Generate New Small Business Opportunities

Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) announced it is updating the tools it launched for the creator community earlier this year. They will now have new ways in which they can engage with their communities and build a business on Facebook while at the same time managing their presence. Creators and influencers have become a driving force for brands.

Technology Trends

Ricoh Rolls Out Cloud Solutions for Small Businesses

The new RICOH Cloud Workflow Solutions portfolio is going to give small businesses access to an affordable subscription service for reducing manual processes. RICOH (TYO: 7752) looks to eliminate manual steps while reducing manual data entry and managing the interoperability of different systems.

Freshworks 360 Unites Sales, Marketing and Support Channels for Small Businesses

With the launch of Freshworks 360, small businesses can now access a fully integrated cloud-based omnichannel customer engagement solution. Freshworks 360 will bring together and manage all support, sales and marketing communications across different channels on a single platform.

Shopify Ping Allows you to Manage Your Ecommerce Site from Anywhere

The launch of Shopify Ping will allow merchants on the eCommerce platform to manage their business no matter where they are. Ping is going to bring together customer conversations and marketing workflows on websites, Facebook Messenger or SMS along with an intelligent assistant called Kit on Apples’s iOS mobile platform.

This article, “This Week in Small Business, How Will the Supreme Court’s Sales Tax Ruling Affect You?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Petropavlovsk faces further management upheaval

Friday, June 29th, 2018

Shareholders in Russian gold miner vote to change board for second time in a year

Fred Studer of FinancialForce: To Grow in the Services Economy, You Can’t Just Package Up and Sell Products

Friday, June 29th, 2018

Earlier this week, I attended Community Live 2018, the annual user conference put on by FinancialForce, an ERP and Professional Service Automation (PSA) cloud solution native to the Salesforce Platform.  One of the main takeaways for me came during FinancialForce’s CEO Tod Nielsen keynote, when he expanded  upon Marc Andreessen’s famous saying, “software is eating the world” by saying in today’s business climate services will devour the galaxy.

In a with the company’s chief marketing officer Fred Studer, the importance of services came up again.  Struder explained why the company feels a services-based business model is needed to be successful today, and why FinancialForce calls itself a customer-centric ERP company.

Below is an edited transcript of our conversation.  To hear the whole interview, check out the video below, or click on the embedded SoundCloud player.

* * * * *

Fred Studer of FinancialForce: A Services-Based Business Model Is What Needed to Be Successful TodaySmall Business Trends: Give us a little bit of your personal background.

Fred Studer: I’ve been at FinancialForce for almost a year and a half now Brent, and obviously I come with a lot of experience around ERP. In fact, I started off in financial systems, both as a trained accountant, studied Accounting and Finance. Started building financial systems, billing systems back in the early 90’s. And then I got sucked into the awesome software house that is now known as Oracle. I spent about 12 years there, and really learned how these products are really meant to drive value for customers.

I went to the Microsoft Office business for about five years, and then for the last four years, before I left Microsoft, I ran the Dynamics business. Have spent time now working with Tod, and our executive team at FinancialForce, but really my whole being and persona is about spending time with the customers, and how they get value out of these products.

Small Business Trends: One of the things that kind of stuck out to me is you guys are calling yourselves a customer-centric ERP company. Talk about what that actually means.

Fred Studer: You know, there’s two words that we use that you very rarely hear in the same sentence with ERP. One is flexible. Nobody ever says flexible in ERP. It’s kind of an antithetical conversation which we’ll get into. But the other one is customer, because ERP has classically as we know been really focused on cost management, back office, kind of the farthest away types of processes from a customer. But just from our very foundation, as you know, we really started as an ISV for Salesforce, really trying to help their customers see a better way to build processes and to help them have visibility across the entire customer transaction, and to reverse those complex processes.

And in just building forward we just had a really different slant, and it started off with being built natively in Salesforce. But it’s a movement that I think we’ve created, and I hate to compare, but if you look at some of the greatest companies — I think Workday has done fantastic on the follow on from PeopleSoft. But they build from an employee perspective, and that’s great. And you can compensate and pay people to do a lot of great things, and I think they’ve done a great job as have companies in places that I’ve worked, like Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics.

They focused on products, manufacturing companies, retail companies that our product is really the core. And I think those are great things to really focus on. But FinancialForce is different. We really come from a perspective of focusing on the customer, and really blurring the lines between front office and back office.

One of the things that Tod Nielsen will talk about this week is about freeing the back office and trying to take a different pivot. Even as a CFO, rather than focusing on cost, and those types of things. Focus on top line and growth. And we think we have a very good message there, and a lot of customers that actually are getting value from that position.

Small Business Trends: Back in New York a couple of months ago, at the big opening of your office, totally cool office …

Fred Studer: That was a fun event. Yeah, thank you for coming.

Small Business Trends: During Tod’s presentation he said something. I remember tweeting about it. I think it was Mark Andreessen that said software is gonna eat the world, or is eating the world. But then Tod upped the ante and said services are going to devour the galaxy. Maybe you could talk about what he meant with that.

Fred Studer: Well one, congratulations, because you totally nailed it. That’s exactly what Tod is talking about. And as you’ve got to know Tod, he is a bit of a technology prophet, and what he was really trying to encapsulate, was the fact that these trends just continue to hit us. And clearly software was that thing. And now everybody’s positioned to driving revenue, and what they’re doing in order to capture that is they have to think about the consumption model of their companies. And in fact what we’re talking about, and this is something that Tod and Dan [Brown – Chief Product Officer] and I really think a lot about is that in order to really drive growth in this current economy, and really everything going forward, you have to become consumption agnostic.

So when we talk about services devouring the galaxy, it’s really portraying this new setup that companies have to think about their buyer in every case. It’s no longer selling. You can’t just package your product and just sell it for a price. You have to be agnostic about both, how you help them buy, and consume, and then specifically how you bill and then collect for that.

And now with things like revenue recognition everything from the offer to going to market, to selling a service or product in whatever utility or value based model. And then billing successfully for that is critical than to just be regulatory compliant around recognize revenue.

So we love this notion of a new services economy. And although there’s a lot of work to be done there, we think it’s just a really good pivot for companies to think about how they might consider growing in this new world.

Small Business Trends: Where are companies in terms of let’s say it’s a baseball game. What inning are we in with that transition right now?

Fred Studer: It’s a really good question, and obviously you and some of our very close colleagues love the baseball world. I’d say, if I was to call it, I think we’re in the bottom of the third right now. The reason I say that is that we still have some time to get to the stretch. But we know who’s pitching, we know what the game dynamics are. But now the whole game is about thinking strategically about the innings that we have left.

So, I think a lot of customers should be thinking specifically about not so much how they started this game. But really, how did they really think strategically about the audience that they have to compel, and really doing the best that they can, with the resources they have to go to that growth.

Small Business Trends: Okay, so what do you want folks to walk away from this event with? Taking back home and putting into play.

Fred Studer: Sure, one is that this isn’t your grandfather’s FinancialForce. And even though we’re nine years old, in the soccer world that’s a lot of time. But having Tod join we’ve got some new vigor. We’ve got some new tenacity, we’ve got a new step, and I think that what we hope that people see is that we are in this new services economy. Everything that they can do to drive growth and be agile. To drive agility in the revenue models. To deliver their services more dynamically, whether it’s a product repackaged, or people as services.

And the more visibility, through even just business signals they can get, the more success they’re gonna have at driving growth. And really we call that the notion of business unlimited. But I hope that they see FinancialForce is a big player in this market. And that they give us a shot to talk about how we can provide value to them.

Small Business Trends: All right, so I know you gotta get back to work. You got a show to put on, but where can people go to learn more about some of the things that’s gonna take place here, but just in general by FinancialForce.

Fred Studer: Sure, I’d start with FinancialForce.com. We’ve got a lot of great content out there. But also, you can actually search a lot of the things that we have on FinancialForce.com/businessunlimited about this new approach.

This article, “Fred Studer of FinancialForce: To Grow in the Services Economy, You Can’t Just Package Up and Sell Products” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Telecoms Reform to Bolster better and faster Connectivity across EU Approved by Member States

Friday, June 29th, 2018

The swift and extensive roll-out of 5G and other next-generation technologies throughout Europe, stronger consumer protection and a capped rate for international calls within the EU – all these are covered by the comprehensive set of new rules for the electronic communications sector that EU countries’ ambassadors approved today on behalf of the Council. A provisional agreement on the ’European Electronic Communications Code’ and on a revised remit for the Body of European Regulators for Electronic Communication (BEREC) was reached with the European Parliament on 5 June 2018.

“This reform will frame the development of the electronic communications sector for the next ten years and beyond. I am confident that it will stimulate healthy competition and increased investment in 5G and fibre networks, so that every citizen and business in the EU can enjoy very high quality connectivity and an increasing choice of innovative digital services.”

Ivaylo Moskovski, Bulgarian Minister for Transport, Information Technology and Communications

Source

Temenuzhka Petkova: CESEC is an Indisputable Example of Successful Regional co-operation

Friday, June 29th, 2018

CESEC initiative is an indisputable example of successful regional cooperation. I am pleased that within the framework of the Bulgarian Presidency of the of the Council of the EU, Sofia is hosting the fifth annual Meeting of the High Level Group on Central and South-Eastern Europe Connectivity, Energy Minister Temenuzka Petkova said. The Energy Minister is hosting the last energy event from the Presidency’s calendar in Sofia.

In the annual meeting in the capital, Deputy Prime Minister Tomislav Donchev, EU Commissioner for Climate and Energy Miguel Arias Ca?ete, ministers from the region and leading experts from the European Commission participated in the annual meeting in Sofia.

Today, three years after the establishment of the CESEC initiative in Sofia, participants from Central and Southeast Europe reviewed the progress on projects in both, gas and electricity fields.

It is of particular importance for regional energy cooperation to build the missing infrastructure and improve security of energy supply,

Minister Petkova stressed. The implementation of the interconnector projects: Greece-Bulgaria, Bulgarian-Serbia, the already built interconnector with Romania play a key role in providing the security of energy supply intheregion.

At the forum in Sofia, symbolic ceremonies were held for the start of construction activities on the Romanian part of the project Bulgaria – Romania – Hungary – Austria (BRUA), as well as for the start of investments and construction of the interconnector Greece-Bulgaria. An illustration of the progress in building the interconnector Greece – Bulgaria were the signed relevant documents: exemption decision of the National Regulators from the access rules, a co-operation agreement with the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, a memorandum of understanding between the Bulgarian Energy Holding and the European Investment Bank, preliminary interconnection agreements with DESFA, and others.

Participants also reviewed the progress on projects in the field of electricity after the meeting last year in Bucharest was complemented by a joint approach on the electricity market, energy efficiency and the development of renewable energy. A symbolic ceremony marked a 30% increase in the transit capacity between Slovakia and Ukraine, as well as the reinforcement of Romania’s domestic grid in the region of Montenegro – Stalpu with funding under the Connecting Europe Facility.

Energy efficiency and RES, as elements of energy transition in the region, were also discussed during the forum.

Source

French utility EDF nears sales of stake in Dunkirk LNG terminal

Friday, June 29th, 2018

Former Shell head of crude trading Mike Muller to join Vitol

Friday, June 29th, 2018
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