Minister of finance: Budget 2021 entirely geared towards national interests

Next year's financial framework includes record sums for healthcare

Kiril Ananiev

The budget does not serve party interests, it is entirely geared towards national interests - supporting vulnerable groups, preserving businesses and guaranteeing the financial security of social safety nets and the operation of public institutions, this said Minister of Finance Kiril Ananiev during parliamentary-floor debates on State Budget Act 2021.

According to Minister Ananiev, the approved final version of the law includes a big chunk of the lawmakers' views of how next year's financial framework should be constructed. “This is because we are all driven by the understanding that we need to devise a response to the challenges presented by Covid-19. We know how concerned people are about their own health and that of their loved one, about their jobs and incomes, we know about the concerns of the businesses hit by the crisis,” Ananiev assured, adding that Budget 2021 provides the necessary economic response to ensure stability and security during the Covid-19 pandemic. On 26 November, the lawmakers had a final vote approving next year's budget. It plans for a little over BGN 27bn in revenues, grants and donations, while committing BGN 15.8bn in expenditures. The budget will operate at a BGN 5.4bn deficit. GDP is projected to grow by 2.5%. The financial framework includes a buffer of BGN 600m that is intended to fund measures related to a potential worsening of the pandemic next year.

The minimum salary is being raised to BGN 650. The government is also making good on its 2017 promise to double the average salary of teachers. The minimum pension, to which a citizen becomes entitled after reaching retirement age and a set number of years of paying into the social security system as part of the labour force, is being raised by BGN 50 to BGN 300. The maximum pension is being increased from BGN 1,200 to BGN 1,440. Separately, retirees will receive an additional BGN 50 in each of the first three months of 2021.  

According to Ananiev, the money earmarked for healthcare is a record sum. This includes raising the pay of frontline medical professionals. The increase will be BGN 600 for doctors, BGN 360 for people tasked with general medical care, and BGN 120 for janitors. Police officers are getting a 15% raise. The government is redirecting some BGN 77.5m to the budget of the Ministry of Interior. Of the additional funding, BGN 47.6m will be channelled towards combating crime and maintaining public order, another BGN 10.9m will go towards border protection, while BGN 13.2m will boost the budget of the fire departments. Next year, the government plans to spend BGN 5.6m more on managing and further developing the Ministry of Interior's system.   

The budget deficit is projected at BGN 5.4bn, with public debt capped at BGN 31bn.

“If we did not have to deal with a pandemic and all its negative consequences, our fiscal position would have been much stronger. Bulgaria's deficit and debt continue to be among the lowest in the EU. GDP has shrunk by less than the average for the EU,” the finance minister commented. He assured that the budget for 2021 has enough buffers in it.

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