THE THIRTEENTH BANKERS MEETING CLOSED WITHOUT DISCUSSIONS
The thirteenth meeting of the Commercial Banks Association passed over in a blink and will hardly leave any lasting memories in the participants. What was missing was the specific atmosphere of the previous meetings, where bankers felt as members of a community, discussing their problems, making forecasts about the development of the banking sector and of the economy as a whole, initiating new deals.
The bank managers, journalists and guests who met on December 5, 2000, at the Boyana Residence could not feel like at a bankers meeting. Official speeches were hurriedly read and it seemed that only the annual awards of the Banker weekly newspaper kept the managers for the cocktail party that followed. All of a sudden, after they had been awarded everything came to an end.
Initially the participants' interest was provoked by the presence of the Prime Minister Ivan Kostov. In line with their expectations, he mentioned the crediting problem. The Prime Minister admitted that under the currency board banks cannot afford to unwarily increase their risk assets. This caution resulted in USD600MN deposited by the Bulgarian financial institutions at foreign banks for the first nine months of the year, said the Prime Minister. He also pointed out that our financial and credit system is not a developed one, while one of the factors the European Commission is assessing the status of the market economy in Bulgaria is the banking sector activity. Svetoslav Gavrijsky, the Bulgarian National Bank Governor promised to consider additional reduction of the required minimum reserves, as the reduction from 11% to 8% implemented this year did not result in increased credit volumes.
Spas Dimitrov, Chairman of the Commercial Banks Association Management Board clarified that the main reason for the banks' caution in crediting are the imperfect legislation and legal system as a whole.
After the first part of the meeting was over, the Prime Minister left, thus depriving the bankers of the possibility to introduce him in details to the problems of the financial sector. After his departure, there was no representative of the government with whom the participants to discuss measures for steering the Bulgarian economy. Actually, the bank managers had no partners for discussion, except Stefan Sofiansky - the Sofia mayor. He tried to provoke a more open discussion by offering them to finance infrastructure projects of the municipality.
For all the participants the Thirteenth Bankers meeting left the impression of incompleteness full of implications.