The Budget revision proposal put forth by the Plamen Oresharski cabinet ran into more opposition on July 17, this time from MPs in the ruling axis that is keeping the government in office.
At a joint meeting of the budgetary, economic and healthcare committees of Parliament, socialist MPs voted against the draft revision bill, approved by the cabinet on July 16, on the grounds that it went too far.
The socialists only agreed to increase the budget of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) by 225 million leva, with socialist MP Kornelia Ninova quoted as saying by local broadcaster Darik Radio that the parliamentary committees were assured by Finance Minister Petar Chobanov that this transfer could be carried out without a full-scale Budget revision.
The main objection against the proposal appears to be the government asking to increase the debt ceiling – with several media reports saying the socialists did not want to sanction new debt that would be spent by the next cabinet (as the current administration is slated to resign later this month to pave the way for early elections on October 5).
MPs from opposition party GERB did not attend the joint committee meeting. The party has already criticised the proposal as not going far enough, threatening to gridlock the National Assembly if the Budget revision bill was not amended.
Mercurial GERB leader Boiko Borissov, who has a patchy track record on following through with such threats, was true to his word this time, with the party’s MPs refusing to register on July 17, which led to the cancellation of the National Assembly sitting because of lack of quorum.