Bulgaria’s National Assembly approved at second reading on June 15 a bill extending the duration of the provisions of the 2022 Budget Act until July 31.
Under this framework, in the absence of a Budget for the current year, central and local government can continue to spend within the limits set in the previous year’s Budget, but not higher than the revenue already collected this year.
This was the second time that the provisions of last year’s Budget were extended. The short-lived 48th National Assembly, dissolved after it failed to invest a government, voted in December to prolong the 2022 Budget.
Bulgaria’s law on public finances allows this extension for only three months, although that restriction does not cover any period of time without a sitting National Assembly. In this case, that deadline passed on June 10, as there was no sitting Parliament between February 2 and April 12.
However, the law also allows Parliament to approve an unspecified “additional period” if a proposal is tabled by the government, which the now-departed Gulub Donev caretaker Cabinet did on May 31.
After the National Assembly elected the Nikolai Denkov Cabinet on June 6, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev said that the government would not table the 2023 Budget drafted by the caretaker Cabinet and would instead draft its own Budget, targeting a significantly lower target deficit.
In addition to extending the provisions of the 2022 Budget, the bill passed by the National Assembly on June 15 included some benefits increases, most notably the annual retirement pension increase, which by law is implemented on July 1.
It was also the second year in a row that MPs had to prolong the previous year’s Budget provisions, after a series of short-lived Parliaments failed to elect a government in 2021, prompting the 47th National Assembly to pass a similar bill in January 2022.
(Bulgaria’s National Assembly building. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)
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