The Minister of Finance gave in to the demands of GERB and DPS under the Law on the State Budget in 2024 and agreed to reduce revenues by BGN 2.4 billion – as much as the contribution from the new fee from Gazprom for the transit of Russian gas through Bulgaria was pledged .
GERB and DPS have set several conditions for “We continue the change – Democratic Bulgaria” to enter the plenary hall during the vote of no confidence next Wednesday.
At an extraordinary briefing in the parliament, the leader of the GERB group Desislava Atanasova announced that it had been achieved agreement with Finance Minister Asen Vasilev PP-DB to no longer vote together with “Vazrazhdane”, BSP or “Ima Talik Narod” (ITN).
Atanasova reported that GERB and DPS agree that the derogation for the import of Russian oil will cease from March 1, 2024., with the condition that before this – from January 1 – the export quotas have been suspended. She pointed out that GERB agreed to this so that there would be no financial turmoil in the market.
According to her, GERB and DPS had intensive talks with Finance Minister Asen Vasilev. They have received assurances from him that In the future, there will be no cases in which PP-DB will vote together, in a different majority, together with BSP, Vazrazhdane and ITN”said Atanasova.
“GERB and DPS have set several conditions for the fact that on Wednesday the two parliamentary groups will participate in the quorum of the National Assembly and we will show that the Euro-Atlantic majority has it. The first topic is the derogation for Lukoil, the second topic is the state budget law,” she announced.
Atanasova said that an opportunity was found to satisfy all the requests of the parliamentary groups regarding the revenues and expenses in the Law on the State Budget.
The Deputy Chairman of the DPS Jordan Tsonev said that revenues will be reduced by BGN 2.4 billion, which is the planned contribution from the fee for Russian gas.
The second condition of GERB was to have a list of national priority investment sites. It will be included in this list AM “Hemus”, AM “Struma”. DPS have set a condition that there should be a priority list of investments by municipalities.
The lists will be specified between the first and second reading of the budget law. The capital program is increasing from BGN 12 to BGN 10 billion – according to GERB and DPS, enough to help Bulgaria avoid a recession. The ceiling for the assumption of debt has been specified by BGN 1.2 billion. This is the agreement reached for the framework of the capital budget, specified Yordan Tsonev.
Next week, Asen Vassilev will submit the budget to the National Assembly. The Minister of Finance thanked Yordan Tsonev and Temenuzhka Petkov (GERB) for the constructive expert talks on the topic of the budget.
“There is one major change in the budget – the contribution from Gazprom is dropped,because it is not certain that it will be implemented. The amount is deducted from the capital expenditures, and the rest of the budget framework remains unchanged,” Vassilev specified.
Thus, the planned BGN 2.4 billion from the additional fee for the transit of Russian gas through the Turkish Stream pipeline is deducted from the revenue part of the budget. At the same time, the planned BGN 12 billion capital investments will be reduced by BGN 2 billion.
Regarding his promise for the vote in parliament, Asen Vassilev said he had a “frank conversation” with GERB and DPS:
“None of the forces in government are good at forming other majorities in parliament because it leads to unhealthy processes and a loss of confidence.”
Where are we with the budget?
Yesterday, after a week of deadlock and two failed meetings of the finance commission, the tax laws of the 2024 draft budget were rejected by the votes of GERB, DPS and BSP. There are six bills in the tax package, the main proposals being the so-called “tip tax“, “denunciation-bonus“, the raising of excise duties on heating products, higher taxes on buildings and garbage, etc.
Asen Vassilev introduced the following definition for “gratuity tax” in the draft budget: “any unspecified additional cash payments”. Another proposal is to equate the civil contract with an employment contract, along with an increase in insurance.
The Ministry of Finance (MoF) also proposes raising the building tax and the garbage fee, which met with serious resistance from the non-coalition partners. GERB leader Boyko Borisov reacted by reminding that GERB promised not to raise taxes.
According to Asen Vassilev’s controversial “denunciation-bonus” idea, anyone who provides data on tax abuses will receive a 10% bonus of the amount.
The draft budget 2024 has a higher excise tax for heated products.
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