GOVERNMENT NOT INTERESTED IN SMALL-SCALE BUSINESS
The first wave of disappointment came onto the participants in the National Roundtable on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises when the forum was opened on March 29 in the Boyana Residence. Then it became clear that only two of the ten invited ministers attended the event - the Vice Premier and Minister of Economy Nikolai Vassilev and the Deputy Finance Minister Gati Al-Dejbouri (who came instead of the Finance Minister Milen Velchev. The proposal (discussed some months ago) for setting up expert panels with the participation of ministers and their deputies for seeking solutions of administrative, legal, social, regional, financial, and taxation problems, was ignored. More than 150 questions regarding such issues had been filed in advance to the Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises. Regretfully, we did not get a single solution to any of these problems, Rangel Cholakov, Chairman of the Bulgarian Chamber of Craftsmen, expressed his disappointment. The absence of ministers, responsible for these sectors, shows their lack of respect to the small and medium-sized business.For 72% of the companies corruption is the major problem in Bulgaria. However, due to the absence of the Minister of Adminsitration Dimiter Kalchev we did not get any information about the Government's anti-corruption measures, Mr. Cholakov pointed out.The only news from the National Roundtable was that the State turns its back to the idea for setting up a Guarantee Fund, although its establishment was stipulated in the Act on Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, promulgated on September 24, 1999. The State cannot guarantee the credits, extended to the private business. This is a kind of a subsidy. If the firms present perfect business plans to the banks, they will finance them, Mr. Al-Djebouri said.In the words of Angel Despotov, Chairman of the Agency for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises, the project for the fund's establishment has not been realized, as the interests and commitments of all interested parties were not taken into account. He promised that the formula for setting up a venture fund will be soon discussed. The fund will undertake part of the banks' risk when they allocate credits to small and medium-sized business.