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Property and Lifestyle News from Bulgaria

Looking up? With news from experts that the crisis is relenting and more buyers are starting to search for overseas property, it's time for the estate agents in Bulgaria to pick up their act. Whilst it has been incredibly easy for agents to sell in an upbeat and rising market, closing property transactions in this climate is far harder. Only the best will survive. Buyers have, quite rightly, become more demanding regarding agents and are seeking out those who can properly respond to their needs. This is good news overall as the cowboys are sent packing and those which are financially sound with a proven track record remain. With less agents in the mix in Bulgaria, it should now become easier to identify those which are trustworthy and reliable.

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All out fight against fraud and corruption Boyko continues apace. In the last week the ex Agricultural Minister, Valeri Tsvetanov, was charged with malfaisance, in particular, making illegal land swaps.

Data shows that during 2008, more than 3 billion leva was lost through tax evasion. In the EU, only Romania and Italy are said to have a higher percentage of citizens who evade taxes. Surely, one of the sectors in line for Boyko's beedy eye will be the tourism sector, where, it has been recently claimed that 40% of all revenue is undeclared - hopefully followed by investigation into the construction sector where goodness knows how much more income is never declared, thus avoiding social charges and taxes, money which the country badly needs to improve life for its citizens.

An indication of how seriously the new government is about the black market, comes with the announcement that a new index with six regional units being staffed, will be established to calculate this. At the moment, up to 40% of Bulgaria's economy is in this shady area. It would be marvellous if the PM could catch all those who are working solely or partly on a cash basis (grey economy), avoiding both income tax and social charges. The Bulgarians all want good roads, street lights, great public transport, state of the art hospitals, excellent schools, etc - but very few seem willing to make any contribution toward the provision of such.

The Prime Minister 's visit to Brussels clearly went well with EU funds released. The EU will release millions of euros in farm aid now that financial controls against fraud and corruption have been put in place.

Meanwhile, the budget deficit fell hugely in August, from 564 million leva in July to just 105 million in the following month. The Bulgarian Finance Minister, Simeon Djankov, who has stated that he has been shocked by the amount of corruption uncovered since he walked into office, is a real advocate of cutting public administration costs. He's setting an example by reducing his staff by 14% by the end of the year, with 10% going by the end of October, therefore significantly reducing unnecessary expenditure.