12 Apr 2024

Glavbolgarstroy participates in leadership discussion on innovation and competitiveness

"The Great Transition" was main focus at this year's Delphi Economic Forum

The ninth edition of the Delphi Economic Forum, continuing until April 13, is focused on global changes. Over four days, the forum gathers world leaders from 70 countries — nearly 1200 speakers — from the spheres of politics, business, diplomacy, and civil society, discussing the most important and current issues in geopolitics, ecology, sustainable economy and finance, global future, education, etc.

The forum is organized under the patronage of the President of Greece, Katerina Sakellaropoulou. Other speakers at the event include the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and the Presidents of the Republic of Slovenia and Montenegro — Nataša Pirc Musar and Jakov Milatović.

A special discussion on "Competing in the Next Economy: A Comparative Look at Innovation and Competitiveness Initiatives Across Europe" brought together policy and business representatives, moderated by Deborah Wince-Smith, Founder and President of the Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils (GFCC) in the United States, who are also program partners of the event.

Panelists invited by Wince-Smith included Lulzim Basha, chairman of the Democratic Party of Albania; Athina Chatzipetrou, former CEO of Hellenic Development Bank and director at Ellaktor SA; Simos Anastasopoulos, President of CompeteGreece; and Kalin Peshov, Chairman of the Management Board of Glavbolgarstroy Holding. The discussion shed light on different strategies European countries are implementing to expand their innovation capacity and improve their competitive positioning in the global market.

In 2022, construction holding "Glavbolgarstroy" became the first Bulgarian company and one of the few in the Southeast European region to become a full member of the Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils.

Participants discussed education and its transformation and modernization as an area of particular importance for improving living conditions and competitiveness.

"Years ago, when I was working in the US government, in the National Science Foundation, I visited Bulgaria. We worked together with the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. You have one of the oldest and most prestigious academies of science,” said Deborah Wince-Smith.

According to the GFCC president, Bulgaria is performing well economically, as evidenced by the GDP. Bulgaria is something like Ireland in the Balkans, she added. In response to her question about the main pillars and priorities of competitiveness in the country, Kalin Peshov pointed to human resources, the tax system, and technology.

"In Bulgaria, we have well-educated people. Language schools, technical and medical universities — a significant part of them with a long history. Comparing Eastern to Central Europe, I would say that we still have more human resources. On the other hand, the nominal tax rate is 10%, with 5% tax on personal dividends and 0% on corporate dividends. The combination of human resources and the tax system makes Bulgaria a very attractive country for investment. We are seeing a lot of Western investment in Bulgaria, especially after Covid and the geopolitical crisis, as well as a lot of joint ventures. As for the technologies, they require a long period of sustainability. So what we do as a company is to import and implement high technology from the US, which benefits society," said Kalin Peshov.

The panel, moderated by Deborah Wince-Smith, touched on a number of critical issues — from the challenges of national and regional leadership in innovation, the engagement of the private sector in these efforts, to the specific policies and investments aimed at supporting small and medium-sized enterprises. The role of new technologies, such as generative AI, in national security and the formulation of economic strategies was also discussed.

The forum also looked at infrastructure investment as a tool to improve productivity and attract global investment, as well as the importance of transitioning to a low-carbon economy and its impact on competitiveness.