Bulgarian Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov said on February 20 that he was optimistic that parliamentary approval would be won for the centre-right coalition cabinet’s plan for eight billion euro foreign borrowing over the next three years.
Goranov was speaking after holding further talks with the Patriotic Front, a nationalist coalition that supports the government but which, ahead of a parliamentary debate on the debt plan earlier this week, said that it could not support the borrowing.
A vote on ratification of the debt plan, including on the banks to handle it, was postponed by at least a week after it became clear that Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s cabinet lacked sufficient support for the borrowing plan in Parliament. Another of the minority parties supporting the government, socialist breakaway ABC, outright rejected the plan.
Goranov said after the talks with the Patriotic Front that “we have good communication” and said that he was ready also to hold talks with ABC.
He said that this year alone, Bulgaria had to repay seven billion leva (about 3.5 billion euro).
While there was a deficit, the topic of borrowing would remain current, Goranov said. Like a family budget, a deficit in the state budget could be covered two ways, by selling off – privatisation – or through borrowing.
Goranov, who indicated that he expected that the parliamentary vote on the ratification likely would be held on February 25, denied that there were problems in the ruling coalition.
He added that anyone who wanted to participate in government had to bear the positives and negatives of being in government, and not pick topics selectively, “when the topic is nice, to be supported by all, and when the topic is bad, to distance themselves from it”.
In an interview published by mass-circulation daily 24 Chassa on February 20, Prime Minister Borissov was quoted as saying that there were old debts that had to be paid, and also mentioned the figure of seven billion to be paid in 2015.
He said that he understood that the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party and minority opposition Ataka – which joined in protests outside Parliament against the borrowing – were taking advantage of the situation and said, “let them”.
Borissov said that he was grateful to Deputy Prime Minister Ivailo Kalfin, a member of ABC, for defending the need for the borrowing. Goranov said that he had discussed the matter with Kalfin and could do so again.
Borissov, who has come under fire from the opposition for his government being too vague about how it wants to use the borrowed money, was quoted as saying that the borrowing was being done not for the sake of himself or his GERB party, but for the state.
Without support in Parliament for the ratification, he said, “there will not be money”.