Investor Here, Investor There...Expert Voices |Author: Maxim Behar | December 2, 2012, Sunday // 09:51| views
This article has been published at the "Unfiltered" column of the Bulgarian news agency BGNES.
Bulgaria is a paradise for investors. I have been trying to convey this message everywhere in the world for years.
Sometimes it is taken at face value, and I only need to register my interlocutors' startled expressions.
However, oftentimes I get tangled in not so pleasant discussions on whether that actually is true, and I am usually reminded that "it's not age but experience that counts"...
In fact, it is hard to invest anywhere. Especially in today's messy times that some tend to call a crisis.
In Bulgaria everything seems perfect, tempting, and positive except nobody is aware of that. Indeed, Bulgaria now has the lowest taxes in Europe. But nobody is aware of that, either, and by the time people become aware, the taxes would've most likely gone up.
And we are in a market, a highly competitive market in which the investor evaluates a lot of indicators in order to make a choice. The first one of those is the respective country's image, what people say about it, what the business sector says about it, and its forecasts for the years to come.
An investor's decision to put their money in a certain country is a tender balance consisting of three very important factors – the country's image, its taxes, and its bureaucracy. So if Bulgaria really has it alright with the taxes – especially the 5% dividend tax, and the 10% flat corporate tax, it is actually lagging very far behind on the other two factors in all kinds of rankings. And – note that – the balance really matters. Even if you offer zero taxes to the investors, if your bureaucracy is monstrous, or you've got a terrible image, not a single company will stage a preliminary investment survey, let alone invest its money in your country...
There are exceptions. For example, the banks - it's clear, they make a lot of money, and are everywhere. Real estate properties – when a country's economy is booming – can bring immediate, incredibly high, and low-risk revenues. Reminder: all that happened in Bulgaria after 2001 when it became clear that there is no coming back and that Bulgaria was soon to become integrated in the European economic structures.
But these exceptions, all or almost all of them, have long become a fact in Bulgaria, and now the enormous efforts of all ministries, businesses, agencies, and anybody who cares even a little for this nation must be directed precisely towards creating a better image abroad.
That will hardly be achieved with advertising campaigns, and that will hardly require millions of BGN from some "operational" (I never understood the meaning of this word) EU program or from the meager state budget.
Certainly, every successful Bulgarian is part of this positive image. Every feature, interview, even a lackluster news article about them in media outside Bulgaria is priceless. Every good thing done by us, and promoted, will make us all believe that life here is good, and that we can be successful.
It's unnecessary, I deem, for me to be telling how much I really believe that Bulgaria is a wonderful country in which you can be successful if you work conscientiously, with a vision and a desire to create something new.
All the more so for the foreigners who can find in Bulgaria hundreds of still unoccupied niches for their businesses. Of course, miracles aren't happening any more, the quick profits are history, and will probably never come back. But I allege that out of all European countries Bulgaria has the largest number of unoccupied business niches, it has the lowest taxes, and – I keep hoping – its bureaucracy is about to become more and more civilized – mainly because of the fact that historically we've never had lazy bureaucrats caring only for their position, and interfering with the business of others.
All we need to do is to be sending messages abroad that we are good people. All of us.
Constantly, every day. So that we can get more investors and more investments, right know when they are really vital for us. We can achieve that only with the things we keep accomplishing, just by telling the world about them.
The investors are looking forward to it...
Maxim Behar is a Bulgarian PR and media expert, founder and CEO of one of the leaders on the Bulgarian PR market, M3 Communications Group, Inc. As of January 2012, he is the Chairman of the Czech Republic Office of leading global corporation Hill+Knowlton Strategies. Behar is also the Treasurer and a Member of the Executive Board of the International Communication Consultancy Organization (ICCO), and a member of the Board of the global PR forum in Davos "Communication on Top".