Bulgaria awaits clarity on promised pension increases
Pensions in Bulgaria will go up on April 1 2013, the head of Parliament’s committee on the Budget said, the latest statement on the topic from Bulgaria’s ruling party after the finance and labour ministers earlier said that pensions would rise as of January 1.
Pensions in Bulgaria were last increased in July 2009, by the socialist government that was ousted in elections at the time by the current centre-right government headed by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov.
Borissov’s government will seek re-election in summer next year. If Menda Stoyanova, chairperson of the National Assembly’s committee on the Budget is correct, pensions will increase as of April 1, meaning that pensioners will get bigger payments in May, about a month before Bulgaria’s 2013 national parliamentary elections are expected to be held.
Stoyanova called into doubt reports that Simeon Dyankov, Finance Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, had said that January 1 would be the date of the pensions increase.
On August 13, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio (BNR) quoted Dyankov as saying that pensions would go up on January 1 by at least 7.3 per cent, a figure set to compensate for July 2009 to July 2012 inflation.
Going by National Statistical Institute figures, cumulative inflation during that period was 10.2 per cent.
On September 3, Labour and Social Policy Minister Totyu Mladenov told BNR that all pensioners would get an increase of at least 7.6 per cent on January 1 2013.
The centre-right government also has pledged an increase in the minimum salary threshold to 310 leva from January 1 – on this topic, at least, there seems to be the same message from government figures.
Stoyanova said on September 18 that calculations showed that pensions could be increased from April 1. An increase from January 1 would cost 800 million leva (about 400 million euro) but an increase from April would cost about 200 million leva less, she said.
Anticipating political criticism that the promised increases in the minimum salary threshold and pensions were intended as vote-getters, Tsvetan Tsvetanov – deputy leader of ruling party GERB as well as Bulgaria’s Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister – said that the increases were “not populist” but the result of “rigorous analysis” and commitments.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)