Parliament passes 2013 State Budget
Bulgaria’s parliament has passed the State Budget 2013 after taking a revision which allowed for increasing the Budget deficit by 493.4 million leva. Parliament also approved a one-billion leva increase in the annual borrowing ceiling.
Meanwhile protests outside the parliament entered their 50th day yesterday with one newspaper reporting that a majority of voters now want a fresh election to be called. Parliament goes into recess today.
“Bulgarian Members of the Parliament passed at second reading Thursday the draft actualization of State budget 2013, turning it into law.
The Bulgarian Socialist Party, BSP, however, withdrew the proposal to make the budget update effective Thursday, August 1, 2013. With this, the revision of the budget will be effective under the standard procedure – three days after it is published in the State gazette.
The current, Socialist-endorsed Cabinet of former Finance Minister and now Prime Minister, Plamen Oresharski, and Finance Minister, Petar Chobanov, decided in mid-July it was necessary to revise the budget prepared by Simeon Djankov, Finance Minister in the previous Cabinet of the center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB.
After the vote, Chobanov addressed indirectly President, Rosen Plevneliev, saying he was hoping the Head of State had listened to the debates carefully and will allow the budget process in the country to run smoothly.
The Bulgarian Trud (Labor) daily wrote Tuesday that Plevneliev was very close to vetoing the controversial actualization of State budget 2013.
Chobanov listed “10 speculations about the update that the debates had dissipated”: threat for the fiscal discipline, satisfactory revenue collection, hike in interest rates on loans, financing companies close to the rulers, inflating administration staff, increasing State debt, and overlooking social and labor market measures.
He reiterated his arguments that delays in reimbursing Value Added Tax, VAT, to companies, caused by GERB, were a stark example of poor fiscal discipline and the Cabinet was now parting with it, and voiced alarm revenues will not be collected as planned.
The Minister noted that the fiscal reserve is the indicator used by credit rating agencies, thus it should not be shrinking drastically; stressed BGN 80 M were slated for the social sector; mentioned the government was seeking ways to provide the so-called “Christmas bonuses” to retirees, and accused GERB of dividing municipalities to “ours” and “theirs.”
According to him, “precisely the budget debates made the Parliament a Parliament again.”
Chobanov explained the government will do everything possible to avoid a second update.
The MPs also discussed the budget of the new Ministry of Investment Planning, which was blasted by GERB as an unnecessary burden to trigger additional cost in the amount of BGN 1 M, and if revenues from the sale of carbon dioxide quotas should be used to reduce the price of electricity.”