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Bankers, Government Officials Discuss Euro Changeover, Challenges to Economy

The Association of Bulgarian Banks (ABB) organized a conference on the occasion of Bankers Day here on Tuesday. 
Addressing the event, Deputy Prime Minister for EU Funds Management Atanas Pekanov said that Bulgaria has taken important steps in Europe over the last two years for a stronger monetary and economic union. To this end, the Bulgarian National Bank has added new programmes to its tool kit, and the flexibility underlying these programmes seems the right move so that the European institutions could react.
ABB Executive Board Chairperson Diana Miteva pointed out that the repeated interest rate increases by the European Central Bank (ECB) confronts us with huge macroeconomic insecurity, political instability, fluctuations in the economic cycle and central banks’ action to cushion the effects, an energy crisis and high inflation and, last but not least, risks of a deterioration of asset quality.
Despite the economic hardship, the banking sector remained stable and the banking system continues to enjoy very high trust. “The last three years showed that the Bulgarian banking system is capable of responding to real-life bad economic and political situations,” Miteva argued.
She cited the mechanism for deferral of corporate and natural-person debts that banks established very fast during the pandemic. Banks proved that they are a stable, predictable and stable partners to individuals and businesses, the ABB head commented. “The euro changeover is an operation on a formidable scale which requires very serious preparation from banks, and they are actively working on it, ” Miteva said. Bank products and services are evolving at an unprecedented speed, and banks need to react very fast so as to keep abreast of the realities.
A large part of banks in Bulgaria are actively offering products and services supporting the green transition and doing sustainable business, she added. In developing digital products and new solutions for their clients, banks prioritize a high level of security of bank transactions anywhere and at any time.
Discussing the benefits of joining the EU banking union in 2020, Bulgarian National Bank Deputy Governor Radoslav Milenkov singled out the say that the central bank has in the various structures of the Single Supervisory Mechanism. “Even though we are one of the two newest ECB members, we do not only attend but tangibly participate. We can report that our participation has an entirely positive result, and I believe that it will continue that way,” Milenkov said. He added that after Bulgaria joins the Eurozone, nothing at all will change in regulatory terms.   
Financial Supervision Commission Chair Boyko Atanasov said that the Bulgarian economy showed substantial growth during the outgoing year but the pace is slowing down at this point. In his opinion, “on the whole, the country is coping very well.”
Atanasov sees the introduction of the euro as undoubtedly the greatest challenge, “as the future of our economy and of our life depends on it.” Other challenges include financial innovations and above all digitization. 
BORICA AD Chief Executive Officer Miroslav Vichev said that over 1 million clients in Bulgaria use remote electronic identification and all institutions will benefit from this shortly.
Deputy Finance Minister Lyudmila Petkova said that the Bulgarian Government and the Finance Minister continue to work for the euro changeover on January 1, 2024 and described the signing of the memorandum with the Eurozone as a “major success”.
ABB Executive Board Deputy Chairperson Tsvetanka Mintcheva said that recruiting young people in the sector is a strategic goal. “Working with universities and schools can help in this respect,” she noted.