The government besieged, protesters and police packing the streets, an ongoing air of uncertainty over the country’s future – name the country. Not Turkey, or Egypt, but Bulgaria. But while demonstrators rage against the newly-appointed prime minister, the Balkan country has received a remarkably upbeat report from the International Monetary Fund, which praised the country’s economic stability and policies.
At the end of a regular staff visit on July 3, Michele Shannon, IMF Mission Chief for Bulgaria issued a statement that may give a fledgling, fragile and beleaguered government some succour. Continue reading »
Five hundred years of Ottoman rule, 45 years of Communism and the past two decades of democracy tainted by corruption and economic failure have given Bulgarians a substantial dose of disrespect for their rulers. The latest government, which tiptoed over the line into office in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday, presides over a country that is as sceptical – even cynical – as ever. It also faces a sluggish, if stable, economy with the EU’s lowest incomes. Continue reading »
Stanishev (left), Borisov (right)
“Too many grannies mean an unfed child” is the Bulgarian equivalent of “too many cooks spoil the broth”.
There are lots of fussy Balkan grannies competing in Sunday’s election – and they are likely to squabble for sometime afterwards about who gets to look after the feeble Bulgarian economy. Continue reading »
Romania averted recession in the last quarter of 2012, but can only look forward to a long and slow slog this year as external and internal problems weigh heavy.
GDP crept forwards at a seasonally-adjusted rate of 0.1 per cent from the third quarter, and an unadjusted 0.3 per cent from the fourth quarter of 2011, the National Statistics Institute (INS) announced on Wednesday, giving details of figures published last month. Continue reading »
The Bulgarian government resigned on Wednesday, throwing the country into political uncertainty and compounding concerns about the faltering economy.
Prime Minister Boyko Borisov announced the move on morning television, after days of street protests, including bloody clashes between police and demonstrators outside parliament on Tuesday night. Borisov said: “Every drop of blood is a shame for us.”
A snap election and change of government are now on the cards. Continue reading »
Those (few)Bulgarians who made it to the polls in Sunday’s referendum on nuclear power have voted in favour of further development.
The vote was a political exercise which is unlikely to lead to the building of new atomic plants any time soon. But it was an unusual show of support for the much-criticised industry. How many other European Union countries would have voted in favour? Continue reading »
President Rosen Plevneliev sees Bulgaria as an island of stability within a troubled continent. The country has a low budget deficit and limited government debt in comparison with fellow EU members. Despite prolonged stagnation, it has required no bailout, unlike nearby Serbia, Romania and Greece.
But a new FT Special Report finds that beneath this stability lie problems around the state of democracy, organised crime and structural economic reform. Continue reading »
By Atanas Bostandjiev of VTB Capital
This week’s announcement that a consortium led by VTB Capital, the investment banking arm of VTB Group, has completed the acquisition of Vivacom, one of Bulgaria’s leading telecoms operators, is a clear sign of the opportunity frontier markets still offer investors. Continue reading »
Whether a genuine attempt to plug the fiscal gap or a pre-election gambit, proposals by the Bulgarian government to levy tax on interest earned from bank deposits have elicited surprise and no little criticism.
Income on bank deposits would be taxed at a flat rate of 10 per cent from January under plans announced by finance minister Simeon Djankov and backed by prime minister Boyko Borisov. The change could raise an extra BGN120m for the public coffers. Initially, it was suggested that the cash could be used to fund increases in state pensions – which looked suspiciously like a populist move before next year’s general election. Continue reading »
South-east Europe has its fair share of economic disaster zones, but Bulgaria, according to the IMF, is not one of them. However, stability alone is not enough for the EU’s poorest member state. Continue reading »
As expected, Bulgaria’s government rode out yet another vote of no confidence this morning, but that won’t make the issues that triggered it – corruption and organised crime – go away. Continue reading »
In a region of teetering economies facing serious fiscal crises, Bulgaria has achieved a notable success with its sovereign bond issue this week. The Balkan country floated €950m worth of five-year bonds on Tuesday at a yield of only 4.25 per cent. Bulgaria’s first euro-denominated issue since 2002 will be used to cover eurobonds maturing in January 2013. The straitened fiscal situation meant that, without the bond sale, the government might have had to dip into its pension reserves fund or turn to privatisation to cover its debt obligations. Continue reading »
Rapid backtracking on a ski development law appears to be the latest incidence of the Bulgarian government’s tendency to make policy on the hoof. The impression that legislation is poorly conceived and executed is frustrating ordinary Bulgarians and investors alike. Continue reading »
Signs of life in the Bulgarian real estate sector should not be mistaken for a full-blooded recovery, but there are at least grounds for hope.
Recent local press reports suggest that interest and activity are picking up, and that the market may have bottomed out. Local estate agency Yavlena estimates that transactions rose by 22 per cent in 2011; Colliers International reports that investment transactions reached €186m, the highest level since 2008. Continue reading »