- Mr. Vassilev, since the beginning of the year the world has been facing an unprecedented pandemic. How did this affect the construction industry?
- The pandemic caused by the spread of the coronavirus has affected the whole world, in a very wide range and aspects. In the beginning, the chaos conquered the world, but with the right actions and measures by the government and the administration, I can safely say that the consequences for Bulgaria were minimized. The pandemic inevitably affected the sector, but it is one of the few sectors that has managed to maintain good levels of operational activity. Construction is one of the most important factors driving the whole economy. This view is confirmed by all experts in Europe, and not only there. In England, for example, they used the concept that “a construction tsunami” was needed to get out of the crisis economically. Construction must not only be preserved and sustained, but also be the engine of development in the next stages.
- What is 2020 for the investment market? Does your company look at investment opportunities and realization of assets in real estate?
- The markets in 2020 are unusual, in many ways. In periods like this year, opportunities that have long-term potential come to the fore. Companies looking for quick profits, which treat construction only as a trade, are losing ground.
Bulgarian real estate investment market in its various segments is full of participants and products, and a well-developed competitive environment and access to financing options create new opportunities. Although some segments may experience difficulties in the short-term plan, I do not expect a drastic contraction in a medium-term or long-term plan, as the potential for development remains. Over the years, we have always been open to attractive investment proposals. Even now we are implementing residential and office projects that are of great interest.
- What kind of projects is GP Group Jsc. currently working on?
- This year we have successfully completed the construction of many private and national projects. Among them is the Sofia metro, in which GP Group Jsc. was a participant in a consortium, fully implementing one of the new metro stations - "St. Patriarch Evtimiy ”, and was a partner in the implementation of another one - National Palace of Culture II. We continue with the construction of one of the most innovative residential and office complexes in the capital - Garitage Park, we are working on the construction of the longest tunnel in Bulgaria, “Zheleznitsa". The launch of two of the largest railway projects in the country, implemented with European funding under the Operational Program "Transport and Transport Infrastructure", is forthcoming. For the construction of new signaling and telecconstructionommunications systems on the Plovdiv-Burgas railway line, GP Group Jsc. will partner with the Canadian giant Bombardier. Our company will work in a consortium with the Austrian company Strabag on the modernization of the railway section, part of the largest project "Modernization of the railway section Elin Pelin-Kostenets".
- Did the pandemic affect your company?
- The company has always maintained an extremely conservative approach to the attracted resource. This allows us to meet market changes. The challenges are different and of different magnitude for the subsectors of the construction industry. We see housing and infrastructure construction affected in different ways. In general, the coronavirus pandemic did not affect the pace of work in the construction sector too much, which was one of the few industries that could continue to operate. There were difficulties with supplies of materials and goods from abroad, but this was overcome.
- Economic problems are expected in all countries in the coming months. What should be the steps to overcome this period?
- It seems that government procurement will continue to be the most significant growth factor in the industry. Projects of national importance are the strong point in the development of the sector. Of course, we should not underestimate the private investments, because they are increasing, and more and more projects in different parts of the country are being realized thanks to them. The behavior of the executive and private investors at the moment is extremely positive and with the exception of some delayed intentions, most of the plans have not been revised and there is no prospect to suspend project implementation.
In our branch of great importance in the coming years will be the projects under Operational program "Environment" related to the improvement of water supply and sewerage infrastructure. Rehabilitation of buildings is also a topic that is eagerly awaited.
Globally, the recession this year is not expected to be as deep as supposed. This is due to the actions of states in support of economies. However, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development warns that the economic outlook remains extremely uncertain as the coronavirus pandemic continues to inflict great damage on economies and societies.