FinMin: Bulgarians Better Off than Romanians, Soon to Catch Up with Greeks, Spanish
Bulgarians' wallets are in better shape than the people of neighboring Romania and soon even the Greeks will envy them, the finance minister has declared in an eyebrow-raising statement.
"Bulgaria has already overtaken Romania as far as incomes per capita are concerned and is gradually catching up with the other EU countries. Just in a few years we will be on a par with Greece," Simeon Djankov said.
The minister has apparently decided to turn a blind eye to official data, which shows Bulgaria is the EU's poorest country in terms of gross domestic product per capita and people's salaries - among the lowest across the bloc.
"Bulgaria and Poland are the only Eastern European countries, which managed to cope successfully with the crisis. The only reason for Bulgaria to be the poorest in EU is that for over 60 years it was ruled by communists," the minister said.
"We are not the only Bulgarian government, which has made reforms - those before us have made their contribution too," he said.
The finance minister spoke as Bulgaria's parliament approved the first reading of next year's budget, which targets a deficit of 1.3% of economic output and introduces a 10% tax on interest from deposits.
"The budget aims to increase people's incomes next year," Finance Minister Simeon Djankov told the assembly.
"The budget will be implemented with a consistent spending policy and we'll have one of the three lowest in the European Union levels of debt-to-GDP ratio and deficit."
Djankov's words echoed a popular statement Bulgaria's president made in an interview for CNN earlier this year, claiming his country is stable and in better financial shape than neighboring Greece despite high unemployment.
"Young Bulgarians are in a much different, more interesting and positive situation than young Greeks. Young Bulgarians do not have mountains of debt and will be free to decide their own priorities and will be capable of funding them," Rosen Plevneliev said in an interview for CNN in May.
The president conceded that "Bulgaria is not perfect" as unemployment is running high, reaching 11.5%, while the economy is expanding at a rate of 0.51%. Yet he made it clear he firmly believes the country is on the right track.
In his words Bulgaria is not among the countries, which need first to find their feet on solid ground and then seek growth and sustainability.
Bulgaria has so far weathered the global crisis without borrowing foreign aid.
Local analysts have predicted a 1% GDP growth in the country in 2012, echoing the forecast of the International Monetary Fund, which increased last month its earlier estimate of 0.8%.
Bulgaria's economy expanded by 1.7% in 2011.
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Several old saying come to mind that the FM may(not) want to be reminded of.
1) Anyone can argue that black is white but that doesn't mean it is
2) statistics lie.
3) you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the
people some of the time but you can't fool all of the people all
of the time.
"Today’s employees and pensioners benefit from economic growth caused by past investments in education, science, and infrastructure. Just as it is unjust to saddle the next generation with excessive debts, so it is wrong to deprive them of the sources of economic growth by channelling ever more public resources into current consumption rather than productive investment."