The recently established Bulgarian Employers' Association Innovative Technologies (BRAIT), which bringing together companies from the leading industries in the country, has issued an opinion proposing measures to overcome the worsening economic crisis prompted by the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The document was sent to the Prime Minister, Ministers, the Chairperson of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Budget and Finance. A press release states that the Association highly appreciates the efforts made by the government and the National Operational Headquarters to coordinate measures for prevention and combating the coronavirus to limit the spread of the pandemic.
The BRAIT is concerned by the information published on the Ministry of Economy's website that the innovation funds under the Operational Programme "Innovation and Competitiveness" 2014-2020 will be completely reallocated to the combat with COVID-19. "In conditions of severe economic recovery and a number of transformational processes in the regional and global economy, such as the European Green Deal, Industry 4.0, the expected new energy revolution, the fintech reorganisation of the financial sector, the transformation and automation of the retail trade and related distribution, the introduction of autonomous vehicles for both personal and industrial use and the continued rise of the IT sector that creates the next generation of artificial intelligence. Any other way, even if it offers growth in nominal terms, it will inevitably lead to a lag in comparative terms both in comparison with the leading and emerging economic powers", is further indicated in the document.
The Association calls for identifying sectors of strategic importance for the economy and for maintaining the existing European incentive programmes, including the Operational Programme "Innovation and Competitiveness" (OPIC). They believe that the Bulgarian economy can continue its rise over the last ten years only through innovation. For this reason, they propose relocation of funds from programmes with a lower multiplier effect to the combat with COVID-19, as well as rethinking resource management which currently did not show sufficient effectiveness.
They expect that the list of affected industries, including tourism, restaurant, entertainment, services and other industries, will also include the companies represented by the BRАIT - Automotive, Biotechnology, IT, Energy, Mechatronics, Mining and many other industries. In support of this, they refer to the experience of European Union countries that have already adopted measures to preserve remunerations - between 60% and 90%, even in the context of the introduction of reduced working hours.
The business organization is concerned that "the planning horizon may be narrowing down to the day-to-day fighting with health challenges, and thus ignoring the recovery of our economy and society after overcoming the current crisis. Signals from our partners in the European Union as well as globally prompt that this recovery will be one of the greatest economic challenges in the post-war period. In all likelihood, it will happen in conditions of extreme international competition that goes far beyond the well-known trade struggles and investment competitions known to us over the last 10 years."
BRAIT launches seven Bulgarian projects of technologies and products that can contribute to faster overcoming the crisis situation, limiting the negative consequences for the health of the population and business. Enterprises from Association are already redirecting their capacity to the production of medical safety devices that help medics who are at the "front line".
The employers' organization also appeals for the establishment of a Council for Recovery of Economic Activity, declaring its readiness to contribute to such a body by its expertise.
BRAIT consolidates Bulgarian and foreign companies, which produce about 20% of the country's GDP.
Source: Bulgarian national radio