Bulgarian MPs passed the 2015 Budget Act at first reading on December 8, with 130 votes in favour from the four parties backing the government of Prime Minister Boiko Borissov – GERB, the Reformist Bloc, the nationalist Patriotic Front and the socialist splinter ABC.
The four parties in opposition – the socialists, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, ultra-nationalist Ataka and Bulgaria without Censorship party – all voted against, but mustered only 72 votes.
Parliament held a special sitting to discuss the Budget bill, which was passed after eight and a half hours of debate, accompanied by the usual political grandstanding that accompanies such votes in the National Assembly, with the opposition criticising the bill for not being daring enough and not pursuing any reforms. Parliament will hold another special sitting on December 9 to discuss the health care and social security budgets.
Bulgaria’s 2014 Budget bill envisions a three-per cent deficit and economic growth is estimated at a conservative 0.8 per cent, as well as debt ceiling increase to 24.5 billion leva. It includes a minor pensions increase of 1.9 per cent next year, and will raise the minimum salary from 340 leva to 380 leva.
(Bulgaria’s Parliament building. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)