AmCham Bulgaria terminates partnership with employer group

The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) in Bulgaria has decided to withdraw the limited mandate to be represented by the Confederation of Industrialists and Employers in Bulgaria (CEIBG) in the tripartite council with government and trade unions, which has an advisory role on new laws and regulations.

When AmCham Bulgaria’s board gave the mandate to CEIBG in April 2012, the expectation was that it would be informed all the way through about talks with the government, but this has not always happened, so there was no sense to continue the relationship with CEIBG, AmCham Bulgaria’s executive director Valentin Georgiev told The Sofia Globe.

There had been some “good engagement” between CEIBG and AmCham on some issues, but AmCham had expected to be informed on all meetings on the tripartite council and have its own opinion conveyed in the council’s meetings, Georgiev said.

The primary concern was that AmCham should have been consulted on issues if the group were to be represented, which was not always the case, Georgiev said.

One such instance was last month, when CEIBG and several other large employer groups had made proposals concerning reforms in the energy sector, which included provisions calling for a change of ownership in two of Bulgaria’s largest coal-fired power plants, now owned by US private investors AES and ContourGlobal.

The two US companies are AmCham members and, until last month, were also CEIBG members. The two firms are also not alone in their criticism of the proposals put forth by employer associations, with a number of companies in the energy sector lambasting the plans.

Georgiev said that the decision to terminate the relationship with CEIBG was made last week, but it also required a process of approving the language, which was agreed by the AmCham board on November 2. He said that CEIBG has been notified of the decision but has not given any response.

(Photo of Georgiev: AmCham)



The Sofia Globe staff

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