Nikolay Nankov: Construction will be the fuel in the engine, which will bring the economy out of the recession
Mr. Nankov, the management of BCC had held a meeting with the Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, and you had taken part in it. Numerous of topics have been discussed after it. Which of them you would outline, and how would you formulate as the most important result of this meeting? All the topics discussed were important. From a global point of view, as the most significant result of the meeting may be pointed out that construction was defined as one of the main priority sectors. And certainly, it could contribute to recovering the country, to bringing it out of the emerging economic recession related to the process of getting over the COVID-19 and the world pandemic it has caused. This is the understanding of both the Prime Minister and the government, including the Ministry of Regional Development and Public Works. In particular, this attitude has fostered the sector to keeping working during the state of emergency, by observing all the restrictions and restrains in respect to the organisation of activities, the health and safety measures, and by following all the necessary measures for prevention of epidemy. It is worth noting that in their majority, the companies in the sector managed to retain their workers by providing an adequate employment, what the state is relying to a great degree on during the difficult times. Besides, it has become clear that construction will be the main engine of growth, the "fuel in the engine" which will bring the economy back to the levels achieved in the last few years. Although it is too early to make any forecasts, I hope that by directing public resources to the sector, next year the trend will move in a positive direction. As I said, we will really rely on builders, because they can help to quickly recover from the crisis. The way this could happen is through private investments, mainly related to the construction of buildings and industrial projects, and on the other hand - with the realisation of infrastructure projects, financed by public funds. We should direct our efforts in helping the public resource to reach Bulgarian citizens as quickly as possible through construction companies. And I am commenting not only on the topic of employment in construction, but I have in mind all the secondary ancillary industries and businesses that are bound up with construction sector. I would mention as an example the various manufacturers, the indirect and the contracted suppliers. In their majority they depend on the good condition of the construction business. That is why I want to emphasize again that the most important outcome of the meeting was the commitment of the government and the state, as well as of the Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, the construction works to continue. This concerns the large infrastructure projects, but also – the smaller ones, realized in the municipalities After lifting the state of emergency, now the attention is focused mainly on the recovery of the economy and on the long-term development strategies. BCC suggests investments in construction, as a historically proven model for overcoming the economic crisis and tackling unemployment. What are the investment opportunities at this stage? What is the vision in perspective? All of us are aware that the government has a very ambitious construction and investment program, which we are implementing not only within the present term, but also over all the years in which Boyko Borissov has been the Prime Minister. While, within the previous government terms, we used to completed one highway, i.e. Trakia motorway and Maritsa motorway, during this term we are talking about the completion of the Europe Motorway, about beginning the construction works along the entire length of Hemus motorway, completion of Struma Motorway, excluding the section passing though the Kresna Gorge. We must also mention here the most important investment in the Northwestern Bulgaria – the highway from Vidin - Montana – Vratsa – Mezdra to Botevgrad. You can realise the extent of our activity. We are talking about really large road infrastructure projects. And we should not forget the other smaller investments, such as the bypass of Plovdiv and one of the most important sections for the local tourism – the high-speed connection between the Trakia Motorway and resort of Sunny Beach. All these extremely important investment projects in the road sector are being implemented at accelerated rates. The construction sector, of course, does not only cover road projects, as we are working on a number of energy projects such as the gas connections. We see what is happening in the field of water supply and sewerage infrastructure, as well as in the field of railway transport. On all these projects can be reported significant progress in implementation. Together with our colleagues from the relevant institutions, we are making tremendous uninterrupted efforts, competently guided by the Prime Minister, of course. The fact is that construction is one of the sectors, of a high priority for him. I will return to the topic of employment in construction sector, as there are over 200 000 directly employed in the industry. All these people feed their families and are dependent on the dynamics and processes in construction. I have already mentioned the concomitant activities, which also depend on the economic condition of the industry – trade and supply of materials, consumables and raw materials, as well as trading in specialized equipment, which is working at the construction sites. We can realise how important and significant is this industry. So, we are well aware that it should be developed, and we will try to keep its rate at least at the pace of the pre-crisis period. And I believe that in 2021, after overcoming the COVID-19 crisis, we will be able to begin an easy gradual rise of all economic indicators. Do you read the „Stroitel“ Newspaper and what is its significance to you? Of course. I always have a copy of „Stroitel“ Newspaper at my desk. We do not just read it, we consult it. It’s the newspaper of our sector, and as we call ourselves an informal ministry of construction, we recognise it as our newspaper. We have been good partners with the Chamber, and in the rare cases we have had discrepancies, they have been a good reference to us. Through the policies that the BCC conducts, including via its media, we are assured that in 99 % of the cases we go hand in hand. Thanks once again to the newspaper, and to you personally. I wish you to get published more than once a week, and in a higher volume, because the newspaper is extremely valuable.