EC: Poverty Level in Bulgaria Is Alarming
The European Commission has defined poverty levels and increasing social unrest in Bulgaria as alarming.
Due to the above, EC has dedicated a special section analyzing the situation in the country in its EU Employment and Social Situation Quarterly Review, released Tuesday.
The report notes that the intense economic austerity measures in Bulgaria during the recession led to a marked improvement in the budget position (the deficit was cut from almost 4 % of GDP in 2010 to 1 % in 2012).
It however, stresses that this has come at the cost of increasing social unrest.
The report further states the following:
"Mass protests, which turned violent, burst out at the end of January 2013 and are still continuing, one month after, in over 30 cities. The protests were spurred by abnormally high electricity bills, on average two times higher than the previous month. After the tension escalated, the center-right government of Boyko Borisov resigned on 20 February 2013.
Electricity costs are one of the main expenditures for Bulgarian citizens. Local analysts estimate that 85 % of household monthly incomes are spent on basic necessities. Almost half of the Bulgarian people (44 %) experienced severe material deprivation in 2011, the highest percentage in the EU, which is 5 times higher than the EU average.
The other social indicators also highlight that Bulgaria was the poorest MS in 2011: 49 % of the total population and 52 % of the children were at risk of poverty or social exclusion compared to 24 % and 27 % on average in the EU15. Chart 32 compares Bulgaria's performance with that of other EU MS. The situation is even worse for pensioners aged over 65, some 61 % of whom are at risk of poverty or social exclusion.
The average salary in Bulgaria is the lowest among MS at BGN 768 (EUR 393 ) for September 2012. Twenty-two per cent of the labor force are employed on the minimum wage, amounting to BGN 310 (EUR 159), the second lowest in the EU."
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