WE INTEND TO PROTECT THE MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE
Plamen Mollov, Chairman of the Parliamentary Agricultural CommitteeMr. Mollov, entrepreneurs and conscientious taxpayers in Bulgaria are now wondering why the State uses their money to support agricultural producers and not them? What will be your answer such a question?- Indeed, it is high time for someone in this State to determine the priorities that would allow the best allocation of the budget funds. Agriculture is an extremly important sector, not only because of the tradition but also because everywhere in the world it is subsidized by the state. In terms of subsidies to this sector, Bulgaria is almost at the very end of the ranking. Another reason for providing more subsidies to the agriculture is the fact that according to statistics data, more than 20% of the Bulgarians are directly or indirectly related to this sector, regardless of whether they produce, process, or sell agricultural products. But the real subjects that the State should take into consideration are fewer.How will the subsidies be distributed?- Under the agricultural policy of the European Union, from now on agricultural production will qualify for subsidies if it meets two requirements - to be offered at a competitive price resulting from the efficient production process, to be harmless and of a proven quality. The State represented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry should say which products in which regions and in what amounts it will stimulate, so that the funds could be directed in the most appropriate way. Before that, however, the whole sector should come out into light. Agricultural producers should register and declare what they will produce. In turn, the State should cover their application with the respective markets, as well as support this production by various financial and organisational measures.This year you solved the wheat problem, but in 2003 the Ministry of Agriculture may again need to rescue some of its branches. Can you guarantee that this won't happen?- The amendments to the Agricultural Producers Act which we are drafting will help the Agriculture Minister to do what he needs to. He will be protected, so that he will not suffer from the lack of legal grounds when he needs to take certain measures. We allow the Мinister to interfere on the market. It depends on him and his team how he will use this opportunity. Right now the Bulgarian markets are oversupplied by imported products. Do you believe that some day Greeks, Turks and Macedonians will eat fruits and vegetables produced in Bulgaria?- Bulgarian products would be competitive, provided the country has efficient and high-quality agriculture. The climate, the tradition and the potential of the country enable it to flood with its products both the regional and the European market. There is one prerequistite - agriculture should be reorganized and made more efficient.