Bulgarian President asks for Budget revision

Written by on July 7, 2014 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Bulgarian President asks for Budget revision

Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev joined on July 7 the growing chorus of voices asking the government of Plamen Oresharski to carry out a Budget revision before it leaves office later this month.

Speaking to reporters, Plevneliev said that it was “extremely important” to revise the Budget because the data so far painted a grim picture. “The budget shortfall is serious and the work of the caretaker cabinet should not be impeded because of a lack of desire to tell the truth,” Plevneliev said in a statement released by his office.

Following political consultations last month – in the wake of the heavy defeat in European Parliament elections suffered by the Bulgarian socialist party, which holds the current government’s mandate – the Oresharski cabinet is expected to resign at the end of July, paving the way for the prorogation of the 42nd National Assembly on August 6, the appointment of a caretaker government and early parliamentary elections on October 5.

The caretaker government will be tasked with holding the snap elections, but it has only limited powers and cannot make policy decisions – such as the Budget revision, which requires a sitting parliament to amend the Budget Act.

One additional argument in favour of a Budget revision are the calls to supplement the budget of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF), Plevneliev said. NHIF handles the payment of mandatory health care contributions to the health care sector (as funding for hospitals and medicine subsidies) and is currently facing a large deficit for this year, with both the fund’s director Rumyana Todorova and Health Minister Tanya Andreeva saying in recent days that the NHIF budget for 2013 needed to be revised.

Plevneliev called on all parliamentary-represented parties to unite provide the necessary quorum so that the National Assembly can pass urgently-needed measures. “There is still work to do, every day is important to the country, especially in difficult situations,” he said.

The appeal comes after Parliament failed to hold any sittings last week, with opposition party GERB staying away from the parliamentary floor and accusing the two parties in the ruling axis of reneging on agreements on the political way forward reached at June 29 all-party consultations with Plevneliev.

Budget revisions have been relatively scarce in Bulgaria’s recent history, but there was one carried out in 2013, when the incoming Oresharski government and the ruling axis backing it sought to amend the Budget drafted by the GERB cabinet that preceded the current administration.

The revision, which raised the deficit and the annual borrowing limit to boost government spending, was carried out despite Plevneliev’s objections and after his veto was overturned – ironically, a year later, the roles of the government and the president appear to have been reversed.

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