(DF) New Grant Aid to be Available to Small Enterprises with Turnover of More than 500,000 Leva

July 7 (BTA) – New support will be available for small enterprises with turnover of more than 500,000 leva, caretaker Economy Minister Kiril Petkov told a briefing after the Council of Ministers approved a decision to this effect during its regular weekly meeting on Wednesday. The entire budget to be paid out as direct grant aid is 184 million leva. Petkov said that this is by 106 million leva more than the existing budget of 78 million leva in support to small enterprises with turnover exceeding 500,000 leva. In his words, the money is expected to start to be paid out over the next few weeks. Calculations of the Economy Ministry show that 3,694 enterprises will be eligible for such support. Petkov also said that the changes he demanded in the Supervisory Board and Management Board of the Bulgarian Development Bank (BDB) as a principal of the bank have now been entered in the Commercial Register. The changes were finally made after several unsuccessful previous attempts to have them recorded due to a refusal of the respective judge in the Commercial Register. The BDB management controversy started when Petkov said shortly after taking office in early May that he was shocked to find that eight companies had received a total of 946 million leva in loans from the BDB. The BDB is supposed to lend to small and medium-sized businesses. Petkov argued that the large loans were at odds with the BDB Act and the BDB Articles of Association. In mid-June, the Bulgarian National Bank (BNB, the central bank) approved new Articles of Association for the BDB, according to which the Supervisory Board and the Management Board may each be enlarged from three members to a maximum of seven. The BNB also approved three new executive directors at the BDB. Commenting the recorded changes on Wednesday, Petkov said that “from now on the BDB will be the bank of SMEs”. He said that all the new Supervisory Board is very professional and very focused on the objectives it will pursue. “From now on the BDNB will work only for SMEs with loans below five million leva,” Petkov said. * * * During the briefing Petkov provided more information about an anticipated investment by a European electric car maker in Bulgaria. He said that the German company e.Go Mobile is expected to start producing vehicles in Bulgaria within two years. The company is now in the process of obtaining official EU approvals. Petkov said that many of the parts for the e.Go Mobile cars will come from Bulgarian plants of another big investor here, Bosch. The Economy Minister denied allegations that work on the future deal with the German electric car market has started long ago, saying that the agreement was reached in the past five weeks. He said the finalization of the agreement is yet to be announced and until this happens, “nothing has been decided”. Petkov said that the German company is in a hurry because at the moment the competition for electric cars is big and makers who come first on the market with the newest cars have an advantage. He said the expectations are for the future plant to be built within two years and to start the production of the first cars. On Tuesday Petkov said that he hopes to announce a big investment by a European electric car market in Bulgaria on July 10. NV/ZH //