Bulgaria’s Parliament passed at second reading on November 26 the revision of the 2014 Budget Act, which envisions a sharp increase in the consolidated Budget deficit and higher borrowing limits for this year. In a separate motion earlier in the day, the MPs approved the transfer of 100 million leva to the National Health Insurance (NHIF).
The amended law pushed the consolidated Budget deficit up by 1.52 billion leva to 2.99 billion leva, raising the deficit target to 3.7 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), which will still keep Bulgaria well above of EU’s three-per cent deficit guidelines and may prompt excessive deficit proceedings by the European Commission.
The revised Budget also raised the government debt ceiling and the annual borrowing limit by 4.5 billion leva. (For more details on the Budget revision bill, see The Sofia Globe report here.)
The additional funding for NHIF was passed without debate, while the debate on the revision bill re-iterated the arguments made by political parties during the first-reading discussion on the House floor.
Concerning amendments tabled between the two readings, the MPs rejected a bill to pay festive season bonuses to all pensioners, rather than only those whose pensions are 286 leva or less. The bill was tabled by the socialist splinter ABC, which is part of the ruling majority in Parliament but not formally part of the centre-right government coalition between GERB and the Reformist Bloc, although it holds the labour ministry portfolio in the cabinet.
The motion would have increased the spending on festive season bonuses from 50 million leva to 110 million leva and was defeated with the support of MPs from GERB and the Reformist Bloc.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)