Bulgaria’s Parliament voted on July 19 to approve amendments to the 2019 Budget Act to cater for the $1.25 billion acquisition of eight US-made Lockheed Martin F-16 Block 70 fighter jets.
The vote, at first and second reading stage, followed one earlier in the day to approve the four contracts between Bulgaria and the United States to enable the F-16 acquisition to go ahead.
The Budget Act amendments were approved at second reading by 113 votes for, 72 against, with two abstentions. The amendments were supported by Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s GERB party, by the Movement for Rights and Freedoms and Defence Minister Krassimir Karakachanov’s VMRO party.
The Budget Act amendments increase the Defence Ministry’s budget by 2.1 billion leva. The amendments envisage an exchange rate of 1.75 leva to the dollar.
The third item on Parliament’s agenda on Friday was approval of the industrial co-operation agreement between Lockheed Martin and Bulgaria’s Economy Ministry. This was ratified at second reading with 116 votes in favour, 38 against and with three abstentions.
Bulgaria’s government intends paying the price for the F-16s, which amounts to about 2.1 billion leva, in one go.
Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov told journalists on July 19 that the payment was a “significant fiscal effort” but could be made without Bulgaria breaking its own laws or EU rules.
(Photo: Lockheed Martin)