Eleven Bilateral Chambers Propose Additional Economic Measures to the Government to Combat with the COVID-19 Crisis in Bulgaria
Eleven of the bilateral chambers in Bulgaria sent today joint position to the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria with regard the crisis of epidemic of COVID-19 in the country. They declare/state their support of the implemented healthcare measures over the past weeks. The chambers salute some of the announced economic measures by the state as well. They see them as the first of series of economic measures to cope with the situation. On the basis of feedback from members, the business associations suggest additional recommendations for faster adaptation of the companies for the next three months.
The joint letter was sent to Boyko Borissov, Prime Minister, Tomislav Dontchev, Deputy Prime Minister, Mariana Nikolova, Deputy Prime Minister, Vladislav Goranov, Minister of Finance, Denitsa Sacheva, Minister of Labor and Social Works, Kiril Ananiev, Minister of Healthcare, Emil Karanikolov, Minister of Economy. A copy of the letter is sent ot the Chairperson of the Parliament Tsveta Karayancheva.
The letter is signed by Advantage Austria, American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, Belgium-Bulgaria-Luxemburg Business Club, British Bulgarian Business Association, Bulgarian Romanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Bulgaria – Montenegrin Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Italian Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria, Confindustria Bulgaria – association of the Italian entrepreneurship in Bulgaria, Hungarian-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce, French-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Swedish-Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce. The initiative is open for other bilateral chambers to join.
“We are representing foreign and Bulgarian investors in the country. Our joint focus is that together with you to discuss and apply the approved measures for the successful combatting with this complex situation, caused by the pandemic. Our members have knowledge, experience, and other resources that can be useful in the seek and implementation of solutions to overcome the crisis,” state the chambers in the letter.
“We believe that the Bulgarian business (not only members) endures the disaster of the emergency, applies dully the health measures; seeks and finds ways to optimize and defend their businesses. Over the past weeks the business supports actively their clients, incl. state, municipal, to adapt to this extraordinary situation. Even more, it initiated and joins large scale charity campaigns, thus supporting the joint combat against COVID-19,” comment from the business associations.
Additional Economic Measures (resume)
- Establishment of an Economic Advisory Board to the Government with the participation of bilateral chambers representatives.
- Mechanisms applying to all companies – compensation and freezing of all tax and social-insurance liabilities until the end of September. Opt for interest-free deferral of the amounts due over a period of up to six months for the business.
- Freezing all principal and interest payables under loans, financing facilities and leasing agreements (with the exception of vehicles which are not directly used in manufacturing processes or for the provision of services) until the end of September, without charging additional interest during that period.
- Fast and simplified procedures for granting long-term loans (maturity up to 30 years) with a view to ensuring the liquidity of SMEs and reducing B2B indebtedness.
- Simplify the procedures for obtaining access to the Unemployment Fund in the case of temporary suspension of work for companies in all sectors, including self-employed individuals, whereby the Unemployment Fund should cover 60% of the insurable income for up to six months and so that after the second month the employer will be exempted from the obligation to pay the remaining 40% of the insurable income. The amount paid cannot be less than the minimum monthly wage level officially established in the country.
- Simplify, whenever possible, the submission to and obtaining of documents to/from government and administrative institutions by using electronic means in order to avoid movement and clustering of people. In brief: measures to reduce the administrative burden by issuance and submission of e-documents (such as certificates, etc.).
- Extend the validity of international driving licenses and the validity of the annual vehicle checks that expire during the emergency with up to three months, without jeopardizing safety.
- The EU Funds intended for enhancing the competitiveness of businesses (Innovation and Competitiveness, HR, Rural Regions Development) incl. funds dedicated to already planned and announced schemes and invitations for projects proposals, not to be reallocated to other measures. As an alternative we propose evaluation of the option that national funds such as those that subsidize business (Labor Conditions Fund, National Innovation Fund, others) to become sources for additional targeted support for the most damaged sectors, incl. and for a measure to transform their production lines and services aimed to contribute the combat against COVID-19.
- Financial support for cleaning, disinfection and ensuring the safety/security of workplaces in the form of tax credit equal to 50% of the costs incurred since the beginning of March.
- Provision should be made for additional financial resources and measures to strengthen the public healthcare system. VAT to medical donations to be refunded to the Ministry of Health to be added to the emergency funds.
- Obliging the government and municipal enterprises, owners of office and business building to extend their payments and to recommend to the private sector to renegotiate lending contracts upon request by the tenant whenever possible.
- In the Tourism sector the social security payments and tax to be frozen till April 30th, 2020 for all tourist agencies, tour-operators, and all companies in hospitality sub-sector. The define policy and mechanisms for issuing vouchers in Tourism.