Bulgarian Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski said on July 1 that his Cabinet was preparing a Budget revision in the near future, Nova Televizia reported.
In a taped interview, due to be broadcast by the channel later on July 1, Oresharski said that the Budget was facing a “hole” of between one billion leva and two billion leva.
Oresharski’s announcement comes less than two weeks after Parliament voted to support the “Oresharski plan”, a vague package of measures meant to keep “civil peace in the name of stabilisation of the nation.” In the wake of that vote, Finance Minister Petar Chobanov said that the Cabinet would work within the constraints of the current Budget and did not envision a revision.
The policy stance appears to have changed now, but speaking to reporters at a news conference after Oresharski’s announcement, Chobanov did not offer further details on the planned revision.
“I cannot offer exact calculations, the matters are very dynamic,” reports in Bulgarian media quoted Chobanov as saying.
Chobanov said that the Cabinet feared revenues falling about one billion leva short of the amount envisioned in the Budget, while spending might have to be increased, with Government ministries asking for an additional 900 million leva.
He said that all available wiggle room in the current Budget had been exhausted by the previous administration, but the Cabinet was doing its best to “optimise spending”.
Chobanov did not say what the new Budget deficit target would be as a result of the revision, but said that it would be still be within the European Union’s fiscal requirements. The EU requires member states to limit budget deficits to no more than three per cent of gross domestic product.
Bulgaria’s Parliament has already passed several amendment bills submitted by the Government as part of the “Oresharski plan”, including a small increase in maternity leave and changes to the country’s energy laws.
However, the exact cost of the full package – including measures meant to protect citizens from monopolies, increase pensions every year, improve the business climate and reduce the administrative burden on businesses, amendments to the public procurement and electoral legislation, as well as the fight against contraband – has not been made public.
(Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski photo by bsp.bg)