Bulgaria’s Government approved the 2017 Budget bill drafted by the Finance Ministry, holding at a special meeting on October 31, the legal deadline for submitting the bill to the National Assembly.
The bill envisions a consolidated fiscal programme – which includes the state Budget, local administration budgets, healthcare and pension funds – with total revenues of 35.4 billion leva, compared to 33 billion leva initially envisioned for this year, which are now expected to exceed expectations and come in at 33.2 billion leva).
Total spending is set at 36.8 billion leva, compared to 34.8 billion leva in the 2016 Budget, now revised downward to 33.2 billion leva as Bulgaria has struggled to use all the funds it has allocated for capital expenditures.
The Budget deficit target in 2017 is set at 1.4 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), or 1.3 billion leva, while this year’s budget will end with zero deficit because of the reduced spending, after initially envisioning a 1.8 billion leva deficit, or two per cent of GDP, the Finance Ministry said in its three-year Budget forecast.
Economic growth is forecast at 2.5 per cent, while this year’s GDP target is increased to 2.6 per cent, from two per cent, following stronger-than-expected economic data in the first half of the year, pushed up by total consumption, the ministry said.
The bill envisions increasing the minimum salary to 460 leva on January 1, in line with commitments made in previous years.
The draft budget lowers the debt ceiling to 23.9 billion leva, compared to the 26.6 billion leva figure in this year’s Budget. At the same time, the government is allowed to issue only 1.2 billion leva in new debt, compared to 5.3 billion leva this year.
(Bulgaria’s Council of Ministers building. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)