Finance Minister Lyudmila Petkova heads the Public Council Economy of Light

Industry / Bulgaria
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Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Lyudmila Petkova headed the Public Council "Economy of Light". Established in 2009 at the initiative of the Association of Industrial Capital in Bulgaria (AICB) with the aim of better coordination and cooperation at the national level for effective formulation and implementation of strategies to combat the informal economy. The Council unites the efforts of state bodies, social partners, municipalities, media, civil society, to end gray practices, to fight corruption and to ensure a fair competitive environment.

Deputy Minister of Finance Martin Danovski, who replaced Ms. Petkova, indicated that her election as chairman was a responsibility and a commitment, since "the Ministry of Finance has always been involved in the processes of reducing the share of the informal economy, clarifying payments and increasing transparency'.

"Undeclared work and the shadow economy do not just distort the market environment, they put the whole society at risk of economic and social instability. These two phenomena pose a serious challenge to any modern economy, undermine the rules of legitimate trade and lead to significant losses of government revenue from taxes and insurance. The lack of reforms and the poor functioning of a number of systems affect the lightening of the economy. This limits the possibilities for public investments in education, health care and social security," said AICB Board Chairman Vasil Velev at the opening of the first meeting of the Public Council for 2024.

He recalled that in the last 3 years AICB has trained and consulted over 450 enterprises and almost 4,100 individuals and has prepared 51 measures to combat undeclared employment in close consultation and coordination with the members of the Public Council. Guidelines proposed in 2022 to address this phenomenon include accounting for wages and employer-paid benefits as an incentive for workers to demand fair and transparent labor relations. 19 measures were also developed to strengthen the capacity and work of control institutions related to these processes. The members of the Public Council emphasized the need to continue the work in this direction and expressed their willingness to actively participate in it.

Some of these measures and proposals were recognized by the relevant ministries and have found their place in the legal framework or separate strategic documents, but those aimed at long-overdue reforms are still on the agenda, added Vasil Velev.

"Unfortunately, labor market policies in Bulgaria lag behind European and international trends. This creates a very serious prerequisite for a crisis in the competitiveness of both citizens and our businesses. AICB has been working on these topics for a long time and constantly brings them to the attention of Bulgarian politicians. I believe that in the next parliament we will have the opportunity to pay serious attention to the relationship between the labor market and education, between the gray economy and competitiveness. It would be a crime not to. And in conclusion, I just want to announce that with regard to the so-called French unemployment we are now ready with the changes in the Social Security Code. Unemployment benefits will no longer be calculated in the same way and when it comes to employment in an EU member state, a longer period will be taken. In this way, conditions will not be created for unemployed persons to stay on benefits, but to have an incentive to be integrated back into the labor market," said Denitsa Sacheva, chairman of the Committee on Labor, Social and Demographic Policy at the 49th National Assembly.

And she stated that it will be extremely important for her to pay serious attention to young people and their inclusion and realization in the labor market. Denitsa Sacheva cites data according to which 40% to 50% of young people in our country do not consider it a crime to work without an employment contract. And 25 percent of them agree and want to work without an employment contract.

In order to meet the needs of the labor market and the new conditions set by the digital and climate transition, which are faced by enterprises and Bulgarian employees, AICB launched at the beginning of this year. project on "Complex approach to providing motivated qualified human resources".

The General Secretary of AICB Assoc. Dr. Milena Angelova, who is also the head of the project, presented the project to the Public Council. "In the next four years, we will work in several directions - limiting the gray economy, increasing the attractiveness of key professions, developing measures for the easier adaptation of enterprises and employed persons to the double transition, as well as upgrading the composite index "Economy of Light". The first results of the project are already a fact. We have identified 89 professions and 145 positions from 17 economic sectors, which are key to the development of the Bulgarian economy. We are yet to develop models and tools and rely on the members of the Public Council for suggestions on their scope and activities to implement a broad information campaign. AICB wants and will work for a light economy and competitive Bulgarian business," said Assoc. Dr. Milena Angelova.



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