Bulgaria's Mindless, Weird, Last-Minute Budget Procedure
As EU leaders assemblе in Brussels to decide on the fate of the common currency and the European Union itself, the Bulgarian Parliament writhes in the pangs of giving birth to the latest progeny of FinMin Simeon Djankov.
I will not linger on the specifics of Bulgaria’s draft state budget for 2012, as they are clear. The budget is a replica to the one for 2011, which means spending cuts that doom Bulgaria to strategic underdevelopment, not a stimulus for the frozen economy, an overly optimistic growth forecast, and happy spending from the country’s shrunken fiscal reserve (largely to sponsor road construction companies).
In his public appearances, Minister Djankov has his mind fixated on the fetish of keeping a budget deficit well below the required 3%, to the extent that he appears to think that this is the sole official intent and purpose of a country’s budgeting policy.
But all that is not my point here. My point is – the horridly undemocratic, non-transparent, unpredictable budgeting procedure, adopted by Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov’s cabinet, which Djankov has the honor to vice-chair.
What should strike any civilized reader is the fact that a country’s state budget for next year is being voted by PMs as late as the second week of December, rushed into extraordinary parliamentary sittings so as to evade the meager possibility of a meaningful debate.
All the more that the very framework for this budget was unveiled by the Borisov cabinet as late as end of October, just after the first round of presidential and municipal elections in Bulgaria.
All the more that before elections, the Borisov cabinet had lied in writing to segments of Bulgarian society, e.g. trade unions and farmers, making agreements that it will not go for spending cuts that it apparently intended to execute anyhow.
Democracy and transparency have become empty words. Their lasting importance however shines out in cases such as this one. A transparent, democratically controlled rule means that citizens possess tools to censure their incompetent or lying rules. Such tools are not forthcoming in Bulgaria.