Covid-19: Bulgarian MPs pass Budget revision, State of Emergency act amendments

Bulgaria’s Parliament passed at second reading on April 6 the 2020 Budget Act revision and amendments to the State of Emergency Measures Act in a lengthy special sitting that ended shortly before midnight.

The Budget revision, approved by the Cabinet last week, sets a deficit of 2.9 per cent of target GDP and raises the annual borrowing ceiling for 2020 to 10 billion leva (about 5.11 billion euro), meant to cover increased government spending to help businesses weather the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Most of the debate was spent on the amendments to the State of Emergency measures act, with the socialist MPs finding themselves in isolation, as other opposition parties backed the Cabinet’s changes to the law.

This has been in effect since late-March, after two provisions vetoed by President Roumen Radev were struck down.

The amendments include changes to deadlines of certain court proceedings, and also give courts and state institutions the ability to hold sittings by teleconference.

Changes to the “60:40” scheme to help businesses pay their employees’ wages envision that the state will cover 60 per cent of the social security and healthcare contributions, rather than the employers and employees covering such contributions in full.

But the most heated debate was caused by the agenda item on MPs’ salaries – which, under Bulgarian law, serve as the baseline for calculating the salary of other high offices.

In the end, a late proposal by the senior government coalition partner, Prime Minister Boiko Borissov’s Gerb, to donate all MPs’ wages and Cabinet minister’s pay, for the duration of the State of Emergency to fight the Covid-19 epidemic, was passed unanimously.

(Bulgaria National Assembly building photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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The Sofia Globe staff

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