2019 state budget – a budget of optimistic projections

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Bulgaria’s National Assembly adopted the 2019 state budget after two days of tense debates. No amendments to the version proposed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Finance were made. The Bulgarian MPs did not take into consideration even some reasonable proposals of the opposition parties.

The work of the Bulgarian National Assembly culminates in the adoption of the state budget at the end of each year. This is so, because the state remains the biggest employer in this country, the biggest investor and a key factor in solving the problems in education, social policy, healthcare, security and defense.

The 2019 state budget is undoubtedly the biggest budget in the modern Bulgarian history. The expenditures in next year’s budget are estimated at EUR 22.730 billion, which is EUR 3 billion more as compared to the 2018 state budget. However, Bulgaria’s state budget is much smaller than the budget of some western European countries. The 2019 budget of Germany for instance amounts to EUR 356 billion, or 16 times more as compared to Bulgaria’s budget. In 2019 the institutions financed with money from the state budget will receive more as compared to 2018. The minimum monthly salary will increase from EUR 256 to 283. An extra EUR 440 million will be paid for pensions and social services. The state budget will pay a total of EUR 7 billion for social services and pensions. The country’s healthcare will receive an extra EUR 275 million. Bulgaria will spend more on defense and security in 2019. An extra EUR 180 million will go to the education sphere. Bulgaria’s Minister of Finance Vladislav Goranov who presented the 2019 draft budget to the Bulgarian National Assembly told the Bulgarian MPs that the “Budget is a forecast for the coming year which in my view will be a good year”. However, we are to find out whether this is true, because the first signs of an economic slowdown in Bulgaria and Europe are already here. Even in Switzerland the growth of the gross domestic product slowed down. This would inevitably influence the Bulgarian economy, because exports are among this country’s most powerful engines of growth.

On January 1 next year the salaries in the public administration will see a 10% increase on average. On July 1, 2019 pensions will rise with 5.7%. The salaries of the Bulgarian teachers, doctors, military men, policemen are also expected to increase. Moreover, the Bulgarian army and security forces will receive higher subsidies for rearmament. The state deficit at the end of 2019 is projected at EUR 12 billion, whereas the deficit ceiling in 2018 was set at EUR 13 billion. In other words, the government acts with a fair amount of confidence, although at least two types of elections will be held in this country in 2019- for European Parliament and local elections. That is why the generosity of the government in some sectors is described by some political analysts as pre-election maneuvers. It is difficult to tell whether this is so, but the economic and social policy of the government in next year’s state budget looks closer to the real necessities in this country and is a step forward towards a higher living standard of the Bulgarian citizens, who say that they do not want to be the poorest citizens of the EU anymore.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

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