HI-TECH AGENCY WITH BGN3MN ANNUAL BUDGET
The 2002 budget of the recently established agency Development of Communications and of Informational and Telecommunication Technologies was set at BGN3Mn, Deputy Minister of Transport and Telecommunications Nikolai Nikolov announced in front of journalists. Financing will be entirely priveded by the State. The agency's operation will be in two main directions: to attract big western companies to this country, and assist Bulgarian universities to acquire equipment and improve the growth of computer training, Mr. Nikolov added.According to data of the Transport Ministry, there are some 1,000 companies in Bulgaria, operating in the sphere of info technologies. More than 98% of them are small-sized with personnel between 5 and 15. Mr. Nikolov pointed out that they're highly competitive on the software market as they offer a good-quality product at lower prices than the big corporations.The agency shall not intervene in the distrubution of finances coming from abroad, and will be only creating opportunities for contacts between the companies, the newly appointed Executive Director Orlin Kouzev explained. Mr. Nikolov commented that this is a very important task, because the capitals invested in the development of education today, will turn into economic success in the eyars to come.Ireland, which produced 50% of the software, imported into the European Union over the last year, achieved an 8% economic growth, Mr. Nikolov argued. One of the reasons for this success is that in the 1980s Ireland's Government purposefully made investments in education, he expalined.The newly appointed Executive Director of the agency Orlin Kouzov has ten years of experience in the Open Society Foundation. He headed the National Research Network at the Minsitry of Education and Science for two years. He has carried out projects of the European Commission, G-7, Open Society Institute of New York, the Programme for Development of the United Nnations, and NATO's Scientific Programme. Mr. Kouzev is the founder and Chairman of INTERNET BG Foundation. He was a member of the Board of Directors of BIT AD (presently BITEX) and of the Management Board of the Radio Frequency Spectrum Association, and was head of projects of the Rila Solutions company.In April 2000 the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Anan invited Mr. Kouzev to become Chairman of the East European region in the extraordinary forum for overcoming the delay of developing countries in the sphere of informational technologies.