At First reading: Bulgarian MPs Extend the Term of Budget 2021 until March 2022
The MPs extended the term of last year's budget until March 31, 2022, at first reading. The proposal of the Council of Ministers was supported by 122 votes "for", 10 "against" and 74 "abstained".
Lubomir Karimanski from “There Is Such a People” proposed that the deadline for proposals for amendments to the bill between the two readings be reduced from 7 to 5 days, which means that all proposals should be sent by Monday - January 17. Petar Petrov from "Vazrazhdane" made a counter-offer and insisted that the term should not be shortened. However, lawmakers accepted Karimanski's proposal and reduced the deadline.
The debate on the bill to extend until March 31, 2022, the provisions of the Law on the State Budget of the Republic of Bulgaria for 2021, the Law on the State Social Insurance Budget for 2021, and the Law on the Budget of the National Health Insurance Fund for 2021 passed relatively calmly and without much controversy, and so the point was closed in less than two hours.
However, the meeting did not go without critique on the government of Kiril Petkov, as was heard yesterday in the Budget, Social and Legal Committee, which ultimately gave the green light to the bill.
The debate began with a speech by Toma Bikov from GERB-SDS, who accused the leadership of the National Assembly of failing to inform the members of the Committee on Culture and Media, to which the bill was also distributed. He called for the bill not to be considered, as there was no meeting and, respectively, no report of the committee. Deputy Speaker Christian Vigenin countered that the lack of such a report was not a problem, as the committee was not leading.
Elena Guncheva from "Vazrazhdane" said that the deputies were inadmissibly late with the adoption of the Budget 2022. She also demanded the abolition of paragraph 3 of the Personal Assistance Act. Lubomir Karimanski replied that she had not read the reports from the commissions. He added that the Committee on Budgets had requested that this paragraph be dropped between first and second reading. He reminded Guncheva that the practice is to make changes between the first and second readings of the bills in the hall.
Kiril Ananiev from GERB-SDS took the thesis of his party from yesterday that in the last 12 years it has never happened that the country enters the new year without an adopted budget.
"We are flattered that the extension is made on a law passed by the GERB government," he said, adding that the extension would delay the adoption of the 2022 Budget.
Ananiev said that it is inadmissible for the budget procedure to be fragmented in such a way, which is why the GERB-SDS parliamentary group will not support the bill.
Krassimir Valchev added that the extension of the budget gives an additional 60 days of comfort to the government.
"This is a convenient bill for the government. We understand that it should be adopted, but we do not understand the government's desire to provide comfort against the background of rising prices," he added.
Petar Chobanov from the Movement for Rights and Freedoms supported GERB's thesis and said that the budget should have been voted on at the end of the year, despite the short life of the National Assembly and the government. According to him, the adoption of bills retrospectively is not "the cleanest option."
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