The bill we will all eventually pay...April, 2023
For businesses this is important, for the consumer or participant in this market as a buyer it is twice as important. But let me start all over again. And
the beginning was on the dramatic night
of December 31, 1989, which hardly any readers remember. It was then, at midnight before the new year 1990, that the market economy was launched in Poland. They called it the “Balcerowicz Plan”, after the then Polish Minister of Finance. Quickly, this concept, accompanied by another, “shock therapy”, went around the world and economists from prestigious universities clicked with tongues in amazement. It was a shock, it required strong political support, courage, and a clear view that this was the only possible outcome for post-communism.
It was a shock, even a two-way shock.
On the one hand, the literally empty shops were filled for hours with brand new goods - ordinary and luxury, imported and local, but at prices ten times higher than the previously subsidized ones. On the other hand, the trade initiative exploded like after a nuclear explosion and millions, millions of people "woke up" to start a business. There were niches and fields for development everywhere, all it was required was to know how to work and what to do with the products you made or bought. And how to market them, naturally.
Many years have passed since then and we have learned many lessons.
All of them valid for the post-communist economies we constantly compare ourselves with. It doesn't take long before we hear from everywhere, especially from the television studios - "in the Czech Republic they do this, in Hungary that, in Poland so-and-so, and in Slovenia are very far ahead in their development..." And we compare, compare, compare... mainly with Bulgaria and mainly in a negative sense. I don't want to start with the local economic view from so long ago, though. We all know
how the film has spun
in the last thirty years and - thank God - this story is all over the social media, and not only. There was chaos and attempts at governance in the first ten years - stern, conservative governments, and loose liberal cabinets, and what not... The question now, ultimately, is whether the market in Bulgaria is working as it should in a mature market economy, despite the ridiculous overlap of the pandemic with the unexpected war in Ukraine. Of course,
too many years have been wasted
and, since 2007 at least, the main criticism must be on all those European institutions that have allowed a huge amount of freshly delivered money from Brussels to “flood” Bulgaria without any cover for goods or services. All sorts of projects like "guest houses", often pointless or rather of poor quality, renovations of buildings, streets, roads, highways, which for years were repaired in the same places ten times... There is no point in going into the topic of corruption,
the incredible tricks that have happened
in recent years in Bulgaria, about how an incredible amount of money really "leaked", which nobody saw. After all, the main result of all this is the "breaking" of the market machine and the total distortion of what should have made our country richer, more beautiful and... a better place to live in. I am far from denying the enormous changes in the last 20 years. I know thousands of companies, including the one I manage, that have grown and managed to do good in business, increase their profits and provide good incomes for their employees. However, I am not convinced, that it is done with the cooperation of the state and any economic mechanisms, apart
low taxes, which "glow", however, fades too quickly
in the face of incredible bureaucracy, administration, and difficulties in finding labor. And yet - the positives in our economy naturally outweigh the negatives, simply because the world has also evolved enormously over these years. Even the most amateurish governments (which we have seen more than once or twice) have not managed to stop the rise of business in Bulgaria.
And this is the problem - too much money in circulation.
Market mechanisms functioning too badly and as a logical consequence – high prices, inflation, and to top it all – a wagon of caretaker governments, powerlessness, and timelessness. And no "shock therapy" will be able to work anymore. We need nothing more than strict and conservative financial discipline from the country and ethical, honest and innovative business from investors and traders. This also means a swift and very open fight against corruption, and it is this fight that has clearly been delayed in Bulgaria. Because it is not only business that will pay the price this time, but all of us. We are paying for it now and we will pay it in the years to come. If we do not hurry - quickly. And very quickly!
Published in Almanac 2023, in TB Magazine