Bulgaria’s National Assembly finished passing the 2024 Budget Act at second reading on December 21, following debates and votes across three sittings this week.
This is the first time in three years that a draft Budget was submitted and passed before the end of the year, as snap elections in both 2022 and 2023 got in the way of the timely passage of the Budget package.
The major novelty in this year’s package was the inclusion of a detailed investment programme, featuring 479 projects for central government institutions and more than 1600 projects for municiipalities.
Each project had its own funding allocation and a designated state body to oversee the project, with the total cost of projects approved by MPs being about 10 billion leva.
In previous years, the Budget would include some funding for specific projects, but the money was usually assigned to a state body or municipality in general, without a breakdown for specific projects.
Finance Minister Assen Vassilev said that the new approach would boost transparency and accountability. He was backed by the chair of Parliament’s budget committee, Yordan Tsonev, who said that he was hopeful that “this innovation in investment planning” will yield improved results.
The 2024 Budget Act targets a deficit of three per cent, with a cash deficit of the consolidated fiscal programme – which includes the state Budget, local administration budgets, healthcare and pension funds – set at 2.9 per cent.
It 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.
The economic growth target set in the Budget is 3.2 per cent and it sets the debt ceiling at 48 billion leva, with the government allowed to issue 11.7 billion leva in new debt next year.
Earlier this week, MPs also approved at second reading the National Health Insurance Fund and State Social Insurance budgets without any debate, as pro-Russian minority party Vuzrazhdane attempted to disrupt the sitting by obstructing access to the speaker’s podium.
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