Bulgaria set to ease law for foreign firms

The activity of many Greek firms in neighboring countries is an important factor for their financial well-being, and also has significant spillover effects on the Greek economy. This particularly applies in relation to Bulgaria, where Greek firms now number in the hundreds. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked Bulgaria to introduce by March 23 legislation simplifying the procedures for licensing firms and their registration. This will undoubtedly bolster entrepreneurship, new investment and transparency. The IMF’s representative in Bulgaria on Thursday urged the Bulgarian Parliament to pass the law in time for it to be included in the forthcoming review of the country’s agreement with the Fund. The new law will end Bulgarian courts’ powers of adjudication in the licensing/registration procedures, which will become purely administrative. It is also seen as reducing red tap, as it will impose the maintenance of company data in electronic form. In the meantime, all indicators of the Bulgarian economy seem to be developing satisfactorily one year before the country’s planned entry to the European Union. Building activity recorded a boom in 2005, particularly noted in the Black Sea resort city of Burgas, followed by the capital Sofia. According to the country’s statistical service, a total of 1,854 buildings were constructed – excluding the housing sector, 350 more than in 2004. Also, 12,110 new homes were built, 3,843 more than in the previous year. Most of the new buildings and about 40 percent of the new homes were in Burgas, mostly related to the booming tourism industry in the area.