BUSINESS SHOULD BE HELD BY ACTION, NOT DECLARATIONS
Angel Despotov, Chairman of the Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, to the BANKER WeeklyAngel Despotov was appointed Chairman of the Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (ASMEs) in end-2002 on the proposal of Deputy Premier Nikolay Vassilev. The new head of the agency is an engineer. He graduated from the Higher Institute of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering and has a 12-year experience in the private sector. He has worked for the companies Sanitex, Hewlett Packard, and Craft Jacobs Suchard. Mr. Despotov was also Manager and partner of Technika Holding OOD.Mr. Despotov, which are the priorities of your activity?- The most important thing is to stir up the entrepreneurs' initiative and begin a process for restoring the trust between the executive and business. I cherish no illusions that would be easy, but if this doesn't happen the most active part of the society will continue to be seeking realization abroad.It seems that the contacts with business circles are mainly with the representatives of large-scale business.- Bulgaria is not a big country. I've met people from various branches and I don't believe business could be distinguished on that basis. Small and medium-sized business practically includes all sectors of the economy, and the agency's vocation is to ensure the flow of information into both directions. The ASMEs is the institution that should accept, systematize and rationalize the proposals made by the business circles, and with the assistance of the state adminsitration convert them into accessible and efficient decisions.Anyway, which is the first thing you intend to do?- The first thing is to make preparations for the establishment of an info system for the small and medium-sized business. We have already held a meeting with an eventual donor, who will finance the system's installation, maintenance and further development. The system itself is projected in the Act on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise, but I believe it could have a new function, which will make it more practical. We'll demand an amendment to the Public Procurement Act that would make things easier for the entrepreneurs, registered at the ASMEs. If a company wants to take part in a procedure for public procurement services, it has to compile a large number of documents. The information in them is usually duplicated, which means they could be substituted. Moreover, such a register would help the Government in its intention to set up one desk service. Have you fixed a term for the establishment of the register?- The terms depend entirely on the financing. The ASMEs has many servers with INTERNET-connection at its disposal and can offer them, but money is necessary for the installation and maintenance of the system itself. There are organizations which are ready to finance the system's establishment. However, tax-payers' money won't be spent for the purpose. I realize that each lev we spend is a burden to the citizens.You announced you'd organize a national roundtable on the problems of small and medium-sized buisness in March...- We have already began preparations and have set March 29 as a preliminary date. It will be finally fixed after all we intend to invite confirm their participation. We do not delude ourselves that the problems would be solved as if by a magic wand after the roundtable, but we hope that will be the first meeting with positive effects where people will voice their opinion and it will be heard by the state administration. The event will be also attended by bankers, interested in the creation of programmes and credit lines for financing small and medium-sized business.A process of making the licensing and permissive regimes easier began last year. Will it continue in 2003?- This process is at an advanced stage. All these regimes have been systematized and recommendations to the respective ministries have been made. We expect their fulfillment and concrete results.