Bulgaria’s National Assembly passed the 2021 Budget Act at first reading on November 6, with 98 MPs in favour and six opposed, as the two largest opposition parties boycotted the vote in protest against the late addition of the bill to the legislative agenda.
The socialists and MPs for the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF) objected to the decision to include the draft Budget Act, as well as the social security and healthcare funds’ budget bills, arguing that under parliamentary rules, they should have been given at least 24 hours to go over committee reports before the bills were put to a vote.
An attempt by the two parties to scupper the sitting by walking out was unsuccessful, as the Speaker of the House ordered a roll call and socialist and MRF MPs were recorded as being present even as they were exiting the plenary hall, Bulgarian National Radio reported.
With the opposition MPs not in attendance, the debates on the substance of the bills were significantly shorter than in previous years and the three bills were passed in one afternoon, instead of after two full days of discussion, as is usually the case.
Under Bulgarian parliamentary procedure, MPs should be given two weeks before second reading to table amendments. The deadline for passing the three budget bills is the end of November.
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