With the country being steered by a caretaker government appointed by President Rumen Radev, the overall outlook for Bulgaria seems to be positive, according to Gugushev & Partners Partner Victor Gugushev.
"Indeed, the country does find itself in very interesting times," Gugushev starts. "Following a decade of Bulgaria being run solely by one political party, things are changing." He says that now, for the first time in over ten years, new political players are emerging while the country is being run by a caretaker government.
"The president did a wise thing by appointing a caretaker government – I’d say that the Council of Ministers has done great things, both for the Bulgarian economy and businesses and Bulgarian society in the past few months," Gugushev says. The caretaker government seems to be enjoying strong citizen support as well, with Gugushev claiming approval ratings to be at an "unprecedented 60%."
On the other hand, Parliament has no majority. According to Gugushev, even if the three new parties in parliament – the "parties of change" – came together, they wouldn't have the necessary majority. "This is preventing either one of these three parties from proposing a new Council of Ministers without a consensus with others," Gugushev says.
Gugushev underlines several improvements brought forth by the caretaker government. "Firstly, a revision of public spending has been made, with big, state-owned companies being audited, the audit results being made public, and new rules being applied as to how public money is to be directed," he says. Secondly, he reports that the Ministry of Economy has changed the supervising body of the Bulgarian Development Bank. This new body has adopted rules towards both increased transparency of its operations as well as increased access to funds for business, which, as Gugushev puts it, are "crucial for the SME sector." Thirdly, Gugushev reports that the authorities have been more open towards businesses and started employing more transparent policies, which was "noticed by international investors which started flocking in, especially in the automotive, IT, and renewables sectors. Ministers Kiril Petkov and Assen Vassilev have done a great job so far. I imagine they would continue to make a great team in a regular government as well." Lastly, he says that a new National Recovery and Resilience Plan has been drafted. "All EU member state governments are expected to submit a proposal of one such plan for the post-COVID-19 period," Gugushev says. "The caretaker government spent a lot of time drafting it and it seems, upon an initial read, that it will be a good one."
Finally, Gugushev says that this new path that the country is on might not last for too long. "The caretaker government will not be in place indefinitely. Whoever comes in might have their own agenda which might skew some or all of the work that was put in so far," he says. However, Gugushev is hopeful that the "good work and good people" from the caretaker government will spill over into the next government as well. "I believe that, in the short term, Bulgaria will be very, very stable, but it is difficult to predict the long term, especially with the upcoming Presidential elections we have slotted for this October," he says. "Still, the Bulgarian people have a certain degree of hope, something which was not present in abundance in recent years, and that itself is a wonderful thing."