Maximum pension in Bulgaria goes up, ceiling of pensions remains

Photo: BGNES

The Bulgarian authorities were planning until recently to lift the ceiling of all new pensions in this country. However, at the end of last week the Bulgarian cabinet announced unexpectedly that as of July 1, 2019 the maximum pensions will be raised to 1,200 BGN (EUR 600) from the current GBN 910 (EUR 455). Mediapool agency notes that Bulgaria’s Minister of Labor and Social Policies Biser Petkov supported the idea that the ceiling of the new pensions should be lifted, because the foreseeability of the system has increased. However, he agreed with the latest decision which was announced by Bulgaria’s Minister of Finance Vladislav Goranov. Minister Goranov explained that due to imperfections in the pension formula accumulated over the years, the correlation between the social security contribution and the real amount of the pensions has been interrupted and that it would be unfair to lift the pensions ceiling at this stage. “We will not allow allocation of pensions that have not been earned”, Minister Goranov said. According to data of the National Social Security Institute, nearly 65,000 Bulgarian pensioners receive the maximum pension of BGN 910 (EUR 455). According to syndical experts, some 41,000 people will be affected by the new changes, or two-thirds of the pensioners who receive the maximum pension. The Movement for Rights and Freedoms described the refusal of the Bulgarian government to fully abolish the ceiling of all pensions as a “fearful and cautious move”. The former Social Minister from the MRF in the cabinet of former Premier Plamen Oresharski Hasan Ademov underlined that the pension system must be predictable, so that the citizens who are now starting to pay social security contributions have confidence in the system and pay contributions based on their real incomes and be independent from any political and conjuncture arguments that differ the arguments of the experts. Regardless of all Pros and Cons, the decision of the authorities to raise the maximum pension shows that the state budget currently allows more expenditure on social needs. Moreover, due to the expected increase of the cost of living in the forthcoming winter months linked with the increase of the prices of gas, central heating and food items, the government has negotiated with the labor unions to raise the energy assistance benefits for the low income families by 50%. For the purpose, the cabinet will need to spend an extra EUR 20 million. Recently, the Bulgarian government and the syndicates negotiated a 10% increase of the salaries of all people employed at the budget sphere. Later, however, it became clear that the employees in the budget sphere will not receive the same increase, because it will be linked with their personal contribution in the work process.

Edited by: Stoimen Pavlov

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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