The President of “Trans Balkani”, Georgi Minchev: It is in our interest to confirm the status of Bulgaria as a transit country
According to Mr Minchev, the main cargo which the company has transported by ferryboat from Varna to Russia and the Ukraine in the last couple of years was wine. There also is a large volume of transport within Bulgaria between the ports and inland stations. This transport carries the production of large enterprises such as Ferrous Metals Works KCM S.A. Plovdiv and some of the transit flows via Bulgarian ports to Macedonia, Serbia and other countries from the region. Most of the cargo is transported by block-trains (mainly ship batches). There are fewer single wagons or groups of such.
A country with the geographic location of Bulgaria cannot exist without railways. Taking into consideration EU interests, we need to protect our right to invest in the status of Bulgaria as a transit country. Otherwise, sooner or later, our country will get sidetracked. Ports, for example, cannot be considered separately from rail or road transport flows. The normal functioning of the ferry complex in Varna, as well as the railway in general, requires investment. No less important is the establishment of a favourable investment environment. There was a period of time in the past when Bulgaria ignored the Ukrainian line in spite of long-standing transport traditions in the two countries. The consequences of this are being felt now with the growth of Bulgarian export volumes. Further to that, we should consider the outdated regulatory framework, which was developed in the 1980s. This regulatory basis needs re-formulation, which should be developed on an intergovernmental basis. The second mistake we made was the failure to resolve the open financial issues between the two railways.
Analysing the experience of the ten countries, which became EU-members before Bulgaria, we can expect that most problems will concern importing companies, which received their VAT back from abroad. The same is true for forwarders, which use such services on EU territory. When our country becomes part of the Euro-zone, by virtue of the VAT Act, transport to the EU member-countries will not be considered as international. If a company does not have a tax registration in the relevant country, it will encounter complicated procedures at the national tax authorities. Colleagues from Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland have warned us not to wait for the clumsy bureaucratic machine to get going, but to take the initiative and register ourselves or to look for cooperation partners. The only way out is for several forwarding companies to cooperate and nominate a common representative. This is valid for relations with the EU, neighbouring countries and the Ukraine.