Democratic Governance in Bulgaria: Using Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Economic Reforms

A round table discussion introduced the US policy community to the governance and economic reforms in Bulgaria on April 19, 2004 at the Federal City Council in Washington D.C. The event was jointly organized by the Federal City Council, the Center for International Private Enterprise and the Center for the Study of Democracy.

Mr. Stefan Sofianski, Mayor of Sofia, was a keynote speaker in the discussion. He presented the major economic developments since 1990, which have led to the establishment of stable and democratic governance system in the country. Mr. Sofianski specifically underscored the importance of property transformation and the introduction of the mechanisms of public-private partnership for improving governance and economic growth. He outlined for the American guests five areas of investment opportunities in Bulgaria: infrastructure, energy, agriculture, tourism and ecology.

The mayor, as well as Ambassador Poptodorovaand Dr. Shentov, noted that Bulgaria had grown up to play a new role – it had completed major reforms at home and can now be a catalyst for change and stability in the region of South-East Europe and the Black Sea. Ambassador Poptodorova pointed out that though there were some remaining challenges of transition for Bulgaria (quality of legislation and the law enforcement system) the country had already taken its own place on the international policy stage. She emphasized that US assistance was the first and one of the most important factors for the success of democratic reforms in Bulgaria.

Mr. Kenneth Sparks, Executive Director of the Federal City Council expressed the willingness of his organization to contribute to the exchange of ideas and practice to strengthen the public-private partnership model in Bulgaria. He noted that FCC had been the driving force behind many community projects in the Washington DC area helping to bridge local government’s efforts in transport, public schools, policing and others. The FCC contributed much needed talent and imagination in solving outstanding issues of public concern.

Mr. Assen Dulgerov, Councilor at the Sofia Municipality, Mr. Ruslan Stefanov, Project Coordinator at the CSD Economic Program and Mr. Boyko Todorov, CSD Program Director, spoke on recent achievements and outstanding challenges in reducing the regulatory burden and red tape, the informal economy and corruption in Sofia and the country. Mr Dulgerov expressed the determination of the Sofia Municipal Council to cut back regulatory intervention at the local level and make Sofia the friendliest place for business and living in the country and the region. The Sofia Economic Council the public-private initiative of the city, which gathered representatives of the largest businesses and universities in Sofia, would be a major instrument for improving the city’s competitiveness. The Council had been established in the beginning of 2004 in cooperation between the mayor’s office, the Center for the Study of Democracy and the Center for International Private Enterprise.

Mr. Todorov and Mr. Stefanov presented the anti-corruption activities and achievements of Coalition 2000, the Bulgarian public-private anti-corruption initiative, in the past 6 years. The joint efforts of the civil sector and the government had resulted in a substantial decrease in both administrative corruption and the share of the informal economy in Bulgaria. Both speakers outlined that there were some remaining challenges, such as judicial and law enforcement reform but these could build upon an already good track record of reform success.

Presentation of Assen Dulgerov (Power Point, 2,98 Mb)
Reducing the Hidden Economy in Bulgaria – Policies Impact and Lessons – presentation of Ruslan Stefanov (Power Point, 492 kb)
Coalition 2000: Creating an Enabling Anti-Corruption Environment – presentation of Boyko Todorov (Power Point, 243 kb)

Coalition Building and Monitoring for Anti-Corruption: Southeast Europe Policy Briefing – July 12, 2001, Washington D.C.

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