VASSILEV AND ORESHARSKI CONTEND FOR ECONOMIC MERITS
There is no economic crisis in the country, the Vice Premier and Minisetr of Economy Nikolai Vassilev and the Deputy Chairman of the United Democtratic Forces (UDF) and former finance minister Plamen Oresharski established during a public discussion at the National Palace of Culture (NDK) this week.According to the Vice Premier, the stable economic situation is due to the Cabinet's successful policy. Mr. Oresharki, however, claims that the new power is still economically stable because it uses what has been accumulated by the former government.The greatest merit of the new time, accoridng to Mr. Vassilev, is the zero tolerance towards corruption, pointing as an example the contract with the British consultants Crown Agents for the reform at Bulgarian customs. He also quoted as assets of the incumbent Cabinet its good personnel policy and strategic attitude to the economic development. Among the fulfilled promises of the National Movement Simeon II (NMSII) Mr. Vassilev noted the decrease of the aggregate tax burden, the attraction of foreign investors and facilitation of privatisation, the reduction of unemployement and poverty. But the Deputy PM could not point out any other big foreign investor beside Petreco, attracted to Bulgaria since the NMSII came into power.The former vice premier Alexandar Bozhkov, who took part in the discussion, recalled that proceeds from privatisation for the entire 2001 amounted to USD640, of which USD400MN came in the months of NMSII' ruling.Mr. Oresharksi called the policy of NMSII's ruling coalition a social and economic experiment without clear targets and strategy. According to him, Bulgaria's payment balance rests on foreign trade receipts, which is a threat to the country's economic stability. Mr. Vassilev replied that the Government has not increased Bulgaria's foreign debt. Mr. Oresharksi contested once more the deal for the restructuring of the country's foreign debt by swapping part of the Brady bonds for new government securities, which Vice PM Vassilev qualified as very successful.