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Velichko Konakchiev interview with Dr. Konstantin Trenchev and Mr. Ognian Donev

18 March 2013

Dr. Konstantin Trenchev: KT "Podkrepa" proposes measures to stimulate the economy V. K.: There is some logic to start the conversation in a way things really are - tripartite cooperation. I have other questions for you, of course, I hope we have time for all of them. Next week the tripartite cooperation will convene, what do the employers at KRIB want from the current government? O. D.: Perhaps to distance myself from this, but also as a joke with Dr. Trenchev, I personally do not believe in his theory of a good king and a bad gatekeeper, he will probably understand what I mean ... V. K.: Do you understand, Dr. Trenchev? Dr. Trenchev: Of course. V. K.: I also get it; good prime minister and bad deputy prime minister. Dr. Trenchev: Yes, but Mr. Donev, three years ago I said that and nobody agreed that Djankov has no potential. O. D.: This is where we differ, you are a little extreme, and we have a balanced view on the issue, but this is not the most important thing right now. Not only one is to blame for the situation in this country and for that to be Mr. Djankov, seems to be an exaggeration. But let me say that all of us at KRIB, depend on this government to show a normal approach to business .... V. K.: Unlike the previous government? O. D.: ... rather than trying to share their business. In principle, serve your own people on a platter, including the government auctions and money. As for the foreign, attempt to redistribute business, with pressure, of course, by the state. If this practice exists for 6 more months, the few companies who create jobs will stop doing it, and worse - those who at the time had the most jobs openings will not be able to retain this amount. The unemployment rate of 12%, will increase. V. K.: Do you foresee this? Dr. Trenchev: It has been high for a while now. O. D: Dr. Trenchev and I have had the opportunity to speak outside the Tripartite Cooperation on these issues and to discuss the situation in the country, but if the dues don’t get paid soon... V. K.: Do you know how much is due to the office? O. D.: Around 800 million Leva. We'll see when the interim government tries to assess the situation and gives us accurate information. No need to speculate when we do not have the right information. It is a fact that part of the bills are unpaid, respectively, how can want those that hold these jobs, ie the Bulgarian business, whether organized or unorganized, small, medium, large, to be able to pays wages, when their own bills are unpaid. V. K: Yes. What about the tripartite council? O. D.: I hope on behalf of KRIB, we will approach this constructively and will discuss opportunities with my colleagues from the unions. I heard that Dr. Trenchev will hold a press conference on measures to stimulate the economy. Yes, we are always interested to see how our partners, the unions view these things. I am glad to share the fact that not the government and the state will provide these jobs, but namely to maintain a functioning 3-shift business structure. Without it, there won’t be new job openings, excluding the army, police and administration, but the goal has been to reduce the amount of these jobs. V. K: The tripartite council will discuss an increase in the minimum wage according to Diana Kostadinova? O. D.: This is normal when you have unresolved issues and bills that are owed to the business. Somehow it seems to be a very one-sided approach. V. K: Have the cases against you been resolved? There was one for money laundering, how did that go? O. D.: According to the prosecutor, there is no evidence of money laundering. And my position from the beginning has been that money laundering can not occur when the money goes from one Bulgarian bank to another Bulgarian bank. I think it is reasonable to reach this conclusion when we know the origin of the money from the very beginning. V.K: As the official ministers say: “If we have to be extremely honest, why did the case open and why did you stop? It is also a time issue - that was then, and now is a different time” O.D.: I do have an explanation, a subjective one, but I think everyone knew that I had to be accused for something and placed in this situation ... What are the reasons and the goals? We would be guessing, but my observations are that with the media, measures are necessary against monopolies and outright condemnation of pressuring their owners. I think it is clear to all that after given as an example for three years for the companies I run, and suddenly after the investment in my minority stake, some problems arose in the media, that put me in a completely different light. V.K: Did you see the dog in the newspapers? O.D.: I think it is so incredibly clear. I began to represent an interest in the implementation of this investment. V.K: Now you're the owner of these two newspapers? O.D.: To date - yes. VK: Although there was some information ... O.D.: You are asking me, I'm the primary source of information. Both before and now I am a minority shareholder in the company that issued the newspapers. V.K: "Trud" and "24 hours". O.D.: Exactly, and many others. V.K: Is there a case against you? O.D.: No, no case, but there is an investigation, I am not competent on these issuess, not to confuse anything ... V.K: Investigation not for money laundering, but tax evasion? O.D.: In my understanding, it is directed on the second accusation. V.K: Yes, it was. And when is it? O.D.: Well this is an investigation, not a trial, you know that in Bulgaria you can not make any predictions. I hope it will end this summer, especially since elections were moved to be sooner. V.K: Not much, but sooner. You are waiting for summer to become like Stefan Sofiyanski, right? O.D.: I wouldn't make that comparison. V.K: He was acquitted of four cases? O.D. Here you are mistaken - there are no lawsuits. V.K: Not now, but there were, right? O.D.: No lawsuits. Nothing is entered in court. Some allegations are raised and they have been suspended. V.K: You're right, we distinguish you from Stefan Sofiyanski. VK: Well. Drug prices, you know that you will carry this burden. O.D.: Of course, they are part of these accusations that existed, but they were just launched by a small circle in the media, I haven’t seen other argument. This was a campaign to show - you see, we're bad. Then there were some relapses by 2-3 journalists who are professionals in our field, and I do not think it necessary to go into ... V.K: Well, your opinion, you claim that the drugs in Bulgaria are cheaper than elsewhere? O.D.: Sure, I do. V.K: However, there are specific examples, this morning we discussed drugs against leukemia. O.D.: Look, from the very beginning I was blamed for the high drug prices. Assuming that my company does price out any drugs related to those illnesses. Dr. Trenchev is next to you and he can confirm this. Unfortunately, Bulgarian pharmaceutical do not produce those types of drugs. Dr. Trenchev: Yes, this is true. O.D.: In the professional sphere, being a doctor, but not a specialist in health care prices, will tell you that the issue is quite common and would be directed so that I get accused of something that I haven’t done. V.K: Short answers; Is there a monopoly of the media in Bulgaria? O.D.: Yes there is. V.K: You didn’t say what you think of the Tripartite Cooperation? O.D.: We can exchange opinions, but the interim government is not one that will make legislative changes ... V.K: I'm talking about the pre-election, the race. O.D.: I will refer to Dr. Trenchev, he knows that we, at KRIB, have twice so far supported raising the minimum wage. V.K: Do you support it again? O.D.: Depends, you know, the devil is in the details. V.K: Well, so you have not clarified a specific proposal. O.D.: These are logical things, the syndicates will want more, we will see what is feasible. We do not want to admit the failure of the smaller businesses, those who really can not afford it. For a large company is no problem raising the minimum wage ... V.K: Yes, but you know how many failures were small and medium business ... O.D.: Yes, but not so much the minimum salary as the distress and stopping financial turnover and lack of funds and fresh resources within the companies themselves. They are unable to pay any salary when they did not get paid for the work they have done. .............. / with abbreviations / Bulgarian National Radio, Horizont, Sunday 150, 17.03.2013