Bulgaria’s Education Minister Meglena Kouneva said on June 19 that teachers’ salaries would go up by 10 per cent in January – but the following day, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that no one had spoken to him about this.
Addressing a gathering of about 12 000 teachers from around the country, Kouneva said after the meeting, a collective agreement on secondary education would be signed, in terms of which “we all will be working for a 10 per cent increase in teachers’ salaries effective from January 1 2017”.
According to Kouneva, the payout for teachers on retirement would increase to the equivalent of 10 monthly salaries from August 1 2016 and from January 1, to 10 and a half salaries. She said that this increase was higher than that provided for in the Pre-School and School Education Act that comes into effect on August 1.
Kouneva, who is also a deputy prime minister, said that education would be a priority in the 2017 Budget and this was agreed with Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov. The 10 per cent increase would make the staring salary of a Bulgarian teacher 660 leva (about 330 euro).
A Eurydice report released in January 2016 said that Bulgarian teachers were the lowest-paid in Europe. According to the report, Bulgarian teachers’ salaries average just more than 414 euro a month.
Asked by reporters on June 20 about Kouneva’s announcement, Borissov said: “I learnt about it from you”.
“She may have reserves in the ministry and will do it.”
Borissov said that Kouneva had not discussed the matter with Finance Minister Goranov.
When it was put to Borissov that she had said that she had, Borissov responded: “If they talked, then everything is fine”.
He estimated that the increase would cost the state two billion leva, on the basis that 10 per cent meant more than 250 million leva a year.
Asked if the state had that kind of money, Borissov said: “I don’t know if it’s there”.
All of his Cabinet ministers wanted to double and triple of the salaries of their employees, Borissov said.
In a statement later on June 20, the Finance Ministry said that there had not been discussions at the ministry about an increase in teachers’ salaries next year.
Education was a priority for the government, but there were no estimates as yet about figures in the Budget, the Finance Ministry said.
(Main photo: UN Photo/Aliza Eliazarov)