No radical economic reform can be implemented without relevant laws to regulate the economic environment. Establishing the power of the law is one of the basic pillars of modern Western civilization, although it is hardly ever understood in Bulgaria. Here, people still believe that crucial reforms can be made without the need of strong legislation and flawlessly working judicial system. This, however, is impossible!
In Bulgaria, during the whole process of transition to market economy, there has been a prevailing belief that free market can, by some kind of magic, create wealth without any clear legislation and without requiring from the government to impose adherence to such legislation. Quite often no attention is being paid to the necessity of developing a competent and well working administration, not implying its expansion, for the purpose of servicing the market agents that function in the country only to assist them, and not to impose undue administrative pressure or corruption extortion to the officials’ personal benefit.
Unfortunately, such an administrative reform is pretty hard to accomplish due to two main reasons:
Firstly, due to the serious politicization of administration. Unfortunately, we have to admit that in the state administration there are few experts, appointed only for their professional competence. The greatest part of the personnel is appointed by party indications. Yet, the greatest problem is not the politicization of the administration itself, but the promotion of incompetent and poorly trained cadres on the tops of the hierarchical pyramid. Such people are willing to get surrounded not by professionals and competent experts but by diligent executive people, ready to fulfill all of their supervisor’s wishes without any useless questions or some kinds of analyses. And since the primary goal of the supreme management, including of political cabinets, is not to increase the level of expertise of the officials or to promote the most capable amongst them, the state administration gets crowded with the constantly increasing number of incompetent party protégés on all levels of administrative hierarchy. Each change of power is accompanied by the next roundabout of replacement of a large part of the personnel and appointment of the next portion of party paratroopers, whose primary task is covering up the supreme management and party leaders, instead of producing any meaningful analytic product.
The second main reason is the annihilated small and medium-sized business and the way the Bulgarian economy is structured around several main oligarchic groups. This economic environment actually crushed people’s entrepreneurship and turned the state into the biggest employer in the country, to provide either directly or indirectly, by some kinds of employment programs, subsistence for the majority of Bulgarian people. This situation cannot be changed as long as the sacred cows of Bulgarian economy stay intact. They, however, are in the basis of the extremely difficult economic situation in the country, i.e. in the basis of the monopolistic oligarchic formations, which crush down any entrepreneurship to refuse to go by their rules. Unfortunately, the state has turned into a supporter of this kind of formations, completely turning its back on the needs of the small business. Simplification and alleviation of licensing and permission regimes, although one step in the right direction, will not lead to a significant improvement of the economic environment, at least not before the basic problem before Bulgarian economy is solved, i.e. the brutal dependence between the government and the large business.
Thus, even if some kind of adequate legislation is being enacted, it would not be sufficient to normalize the business environment. It is also very important that efficient institutions be developed to enforce this legislation. The formal legal systems place judges, prosecutors, investigators and private legal professionals in the role of initial interpreters of the enforced legal norms. Development of all these systems is a vital necessity for the success of the reforms and for the creation of an effective civil administration.
Law enforcement is of primary significance in the fight against corruption. The constantly changing laws or the laws adopted given the lack of transparency, the burdensome regulations, and the omnipotent control of state authorities all provide the state administration extreme power, opportunity to demand bribes and a wide range of actions to deprive the public of its wealth.
Thus, ultimately, one may conclude that the basic weapon of the state for coping corruption and organized crime is the crucial application of reforms, to achieve a truly competitive market economy, development of civil society in the country and establishment of full-value law enforcement.
Finally, one has to bear in mind that the most important part of economy, on one hand, and yet at the same time the most vulnerable part, is the banking system. If organized crime happens to establish control on the banking system, soon it will establish control on the entire state. In Bulgaria, there are many indications to evidence that such a symbiosis between criminal formations and the bank sector is already present in the country. Unfortunately, this issue is not subject of public discussion and it seems like there is some kind of fear to talk about it. But as long as we avoid putting our fingers on the sore spot and fail to initiate investigations of such dependences, it is highly unlikely that Bulgaria would manage to establish the power of the law to the full range possible. Since, on one hand, a financially secured oligarchy will have no problems to buy anybody in the state. On the other hand, it is due to such possession of financial institutions exactly that the economic groups rely on enjoying and actually do enjoy protection by the supervisory state bodies. It is no coincidence that each and every economic group in the country, against which there are constant demonstrations of some kind, does possess a bank of its own. Even for obvious violations of the law, as the ones found in Investbank, not only that no legal actions were taken, but on the contrary – the bank was saved with funds from CCB and circles related to it, on one hand, and on the other hand, it was the bank that secured the funding for taking over the publishing business of Lyubomir Pavlov and Ognyan Donev. I.e. this case reveals not only protection of the interests of such groups on the part of state institutions, but it also actually reveals a certain form of symbiosis between them.
The above reasoning may continue long but the inevitable conclusion is that in Bulgaria, the symbiosis between criminal formations, created with the concealed support of the former Bulgarian Communist Party’s nomenclature and State Security, has actually overwhelmed the control of the whole state, and the political life in the country has turned into an actual façade. Its destruction is impossible if civil society fails to realize what is happening in the country and make joint and purposeful efforts to overcome the situation that the country has come to. Whether this is possible at all is a question far different!