Bulgarian MPs Approve Next Year's Budget
Bulgaria's Parliament passed the state budget draft at first reading on Friday morning, BGNES wire service reports.
The vote dashes uncertainty that loomed over its adoption after a number of political parties had said they would not back the text as proposed by the outgoing Finance Ministry team.
The bill foresees an increase in the minimum monthly wage, set at BGN 460 (up by BGN 40) as of January 01, 2017. Pension installments will increase by 1%, while the retirement age, the length of service for workers in the mass third labour category and in the Security sector will increase by two months. The pension ceiling remains BGN 910.
A deficit of 1.4% for next year is also included.
Growth is projected at 2.5% for 2017 and 2.7% for 2018-2019.
The debate and vote come after conflicting statements among members of GERB, the senior partner in Bulgaria's government in resignation.
A GERB lawmaker who chairs the parliament's budget affairs committee said on Monday that the fiscal bill should be retracted as the cabinet was leaving and the budget was the "most politically tinged" piece of legislation.
But Finance Minister Vladislav Goranov was adamant his outgoing administration would not withdraw the draft, letting it go to committees and then further to Parliament's floor.
Goranov also called on MPs ahead of the vote to back the budget as increases in wages, benefits and compensations for disabled children, and other moves will not take effect. A delay in the synchronization of Bulgaria's excise duties with the EU timetable - e.g. rates for cigarettes - and failure to absorb EU money due to lack of co-funding allocations will create obstacles, he warned.
On Thursday, lawmakers approved the budget of Bulgaria's National Social Security Institute (NSSI) at first reading.
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