Black Economy Accounts For 35% Of Bulgaria GDP - Watchdog Associated_Press - 2000/5/23
SOFIA (AP)--Bulgaria's black market economy, which pays no taxes or customs duties, accounts for 35% of the country's gross domestic product, worth some $3 billion, a watchdog group reported Tuesday. Anti-corruption activists from Coalition 2000 said that illegal exports and imports to and from the European Union in 1998 alone amounted to $850 million - as much as this Balkan country's defense budget. Group experts said the figure equals differences they found between official export-import statistics of the European Union and the Bulgarian government. Prime Minister Ivan Kostov has recently asked foreign investors to help the government stem illegal imports, which undermine prices of local producers. Today's smugglers use contraband channels which once were run by communist-era secret services, the group claimed. It said some former security officers have become businesses, by "privatizing" the service's former contraband network after the Cold War ended in 1989.

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