Bulgaria’s National Assembly passed at second reading on August 4the revision of the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) budget, approving the allocation of 225 million leva, to be funded by spending cuts in ministry budgets, rather than by increasing the deficit as part of a wider Budget revision.
Last week, the Budget revision bill tabled by the outgoing cabinet of Plamen Oresharski passed at first reading, despite objections from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), which holds the Oresharski administration’s mandate.
Prior to the start of debates on August 4, the House voted to remove the revision bill from the day’s agenda.
Opposition party GERB, which voted in favour of the revision at first reading, later withdrew its support, but the party’s MPs registered for the special sitting on August 4 – as promised by party leader Boiko Borissov during talks hosted by President Rosen Plevneliev on August 1 – to provide the necessary quorum, before walking out.
GERB MP Menda Stoyanova said that the amended proposal – which envisions boosting NHIF’s budget “at the expense of 45 other state institutions” – was undermining the incoming caretaker government and the government that would take office following early elections on October 5.
Roumen Gechev of the BSP, the party that has made every effort in recent weeks to obstruct the more comprehensive revision tabled by the Oresharski administration, countered by saying that the caretaker government would have to spend the available money as efficiently as possible.
Budget committee chairperson Yordan Tsonev, from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), which backed the Budget revision at first reading, said that the country’s next legislature would likely have to revisit the Budget revision issue.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)