PRIORITIES OF THE SME AGENCY IN 2001
Closing of SME chapter at the EU accession negotiations in 2000 is the biggest pride for the SME Agency, headed by Irena Petrunova, was announced at the annual press conference of the institution. Besides that, the credits launched by the newly opened Incentive Bank, by EUROBANK and UNIONBANK, designed for small entrepreneurs, are gaining popularity. For the whole year the three credit institutions have launched credits amounting to totally BGL16.912MN. In 2000 the Slovak EUROBANK was the most active one, having launched 492 credits amounting to BGL9.059MN
In 2000 the SME Agency's efforts were directed mainly to facilitating the access of the companies it is working with to public orders. A significant part of the conditions of the forthcoming tenders, appropriate for SMEs, are announced at the Agency. The problem is that this information is available only to Sofia-based companies, as it is not available at SME Agency's WEB site. The reason is that data on the tenders is received on paper. Having in mind the numerous invitations to tenders received daily at the Agency, its staff is not capable of processing the whole information. The other important project SME Agency was working on was related to studying the possibilities of simplifying the administrative procedures in registering new companies.
Among the 2001 priorities Irena Petrunova pointed out the establishment of one-stop-shop services for the business. This means that the companies will be able to fill in their registration documents or public tender application forms at one point, instead of visiting all different institutions. This facility will be available only for the companies at the smaller towns.
The Agency will also support the companies in their efforts to be certified under the ISO 9000 quality standards. This will open the way of the small companies to the developed markets.
The main goal for SME Agency in 2001 will however be the self-establishment. Actually the credits launched by Incentive Bank, EUROBANK and UNIONBANK to more than 600 companies are a fact, despite of the Agency's activities. Should its intentions of supporting several dozens of companies materialize, then it will be really worth for the tax payers to spare some money for the institution.