Bulgarian pensioners who get pensions of up to 286 leva (about 146 euro) a month will be paid bonuses of up to 40 leva this Christmas, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on November 18 after talks with Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov.
This is a turnabout on the budget previously not having provided for Christmas bonuses for pensioners.
The announcement came on the same day that a plenary session of Bulgaria’s National Assembly began debating government proposals to amend Budget 2014 to repair gross errors bequeathed by the now-departed Bulgarian Socialist Party administration.
Borissov told reporters that about 1.3 million pensioners would get Christmas bonuses.
He said that he had told the finance minister to see what cuts could be made in budgets for infrastructure projects and the administration so that pensioners could get some money because, Borissov said, “they deserve it”.
Borissov said that the Christmas bonuses for pensioners would cost about 50 million leva, “no small sum in times of financial crisis”.
Ivailo Kalfin, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of social policy, had made an issue of Christmas bonuses, a key platform issue for the ABC minority party which he represents in Borissov’s coalition cabinet.
Speaking on the topic a number of times in the days before Borissov announced his decision, Kalfin said that reserves and an additional revenue to the state budget after it was amended by Parliament could be examined to find money for the bonuses.
Earlier, Kalfin said that Finance Minister Goranov’s statement that there would be no Christmas bonuses for pensioners had not been agreed with him.
Kalfin said on November 11 that he was holding talks with the National Insurance Institute and the Finance Ministry on the issue of Christmas bonuses for pensioners. At the time, he said that he could make no promises because the budget did not provide money for such bonuses.