Bulgaria’s National Assembly passed the 2024 Budget Act at first reading at a special sitting on December 12, with 144 MPs in favour and 66 opposed.
The Budget was backed by the two largest groups in Parliament, We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria (WCC-DB) and GERB-UDF coalitions, which broadly support the Nikolai Denkov government, as well the predominantly ethnic Turk Movement for Rights and Freedoms.
The debate preceding the vote saw the usual criticism from the opposition parties – pro-Kremlin Vuzrazhdane, Bulgarian Socialist Party and the smallest group in the National Assembly, ITN.
MPs passed at first reading the separate social security and healthcare funds’ budget bills earlier this month, before disagreements between WCC-DB and GERB-UDF delayed the state budget bill.
In order to meet the deadline to pass the Budget before Parliament goes into recess for the winter holidays, MPs also approved a motion to shorten the habitual two-week period for tabling amendments and set a December 15 deadline for amendments.
This will allow Parliament to vote the three bills in the Budget package next week.
The 2024 Budget package tabled by the Cabinet envisions a consolidated fiscal programme with revenues of 77.6 billion leva and 83.2 billion leva in spending, with the deficit estimated at 6.2 billion leva in real terms, or three per cent of projected gross domestic product.
The economic growth target set in the Budget is 3.2 per cent and sets the debt ceiling at 49 billion leva, with the government allowed to issue 12.7 billion leva in new debt in 2024.
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