Bulgaria's GERB Withdraws Support from State Budget Overhaul

Business » FINANCE | July 30, 2014, Wednesday // 13:07
Bulgaria: Bulgaria's GERB Withdraws Support from State Budget Overhaul Boyko Borisov explained in the Parliament building he did not want to "give ground" to ruling socialists to argue a coalition between his conservative GERB party and liberal DPS was in the making. Photo by BGNES

Center-right opposition GERB has stepped back and has announced it is against the update of Bulgaria's state budget.

Leader Boyko Borisov has declared the party will not attend any more Parliament sessions until August 5, when the last meeting of lawmakers in the 42nd National Assembly is due to be held.

His decision puts the overhaul into question, as it is to be approved at another reading before a caretaker government takes over.

The announcement comes just hours after MPs agreed on Tuesday to adopt amendment proposals which include changes to the State Budget of the Republic of Bulgaria Act and expenditures of the National Health Insurance Fund (NZOK).

GERB voiced its decision after a session at the National Assembly failed over lack of quorum.

MPs failed to convene as GERB's Parliament group refused to enter the plenary hall, although they were inside the building. The decision of far-right Ataka not to attend until the current assembly is dissolved has also foiled the session.

Borisov told journalists that his party was "strongly against" the move by the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), the senior partner in the outgoing cabinet, which now argues an "alliance" is being forged between GERB and liberal Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS), the junior partner which withdrew its support from the cabinet and triggered its collapse.

He was firm that GERB would not allow the BSP to use that argument as a "strong point" in their last days in government.

Both GERB and the DPS backed the budget overhaul proposed by Plamen Oresharski's cabinet in resignation which the BSP has harshly criticized as "unnecessary".

After the step was initially approved on Tuesday at first reading, Parliament is due to confirm it on August 4, two days before it is dissolved by President Rosen Plevneliev.

DPS leader Lyutvi Mestan, for his part, announced shortly after Borisov made his comments that his party would attend the August 4 session to back the amendments.

The President, who was the first to commend lawmakers for having passed the legislation, has long maintained 2014 projected expenditures must be increased to ensure a better environment for the upcoming interim government to carry out its duties, as it does not have budgetary competences.

A caretaker government, which is to be sworn in after Oresharski stepped down on July 23, will mainly be in charge of tackling key issues in energy and EU funds management, but also of preparing the early elections on October 5.

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Tags: GERB, Boyko Borisov, BSP, budget, overhaul, NZOK, State Budget of the Republic of Bulgaria Act, DPS, resignation, Plamen Oresharski, Rosen Plevneliev, parliament
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