site.btaFinance Minister: Ban on Ukrainian Grain Imports Should Be Lifted to Increase Revenue for Exchequer, Reduce Food Prices
At a news briefing here on Wednesday, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev said that with their hasty decision to ban grain imports from Ukraine, the caretaker government deprived the Exchequer of revenue and made the entire Bulgarian people pay more for bread, flour, cooking oil, feed, dairy and meat products, all in the name of protecting a sector that in 2022 generated a declared profit of BGN 2.5 billion.
On Tuesday, the parliamentary Committee on Economic Policy and Innovation adopted a draft decision for Bulgaria to lift the ban on Ukrainian import of certain products after September 15, 2023. In reaction, the National Grain Producers Association announced a nationwide agricultural protest to "save Bulgarian agriculture". Commenting on the matter on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov said that scrapping the ban is the right decision as that would lower the prices of basic food commodities, while Agriculture Minister Kiril Vatev called for a very careful assessment of the lift as if would hardly affect the prices of final products in Bulgaria while sparking heavy protests.
According to Vassilev, the responsible decision in favour of all Bulgarian citizens is to lift the ban; that will generate revenue for the Exchequer and lower food prices. If there are producers who truly experience difficulties because of the ban's lift, they should receive targeted aid. The ban on Ukrainian grain imports that the caretaker government requested from the European Commission has thus far cost the Exchequer BGN 146 million from VAT. If the ban remains in effect, the losses until the year's end are estimated at some BGN 40 million a month, the Minister said.
Asked if Minister Vatev had been informed about the decision to scrap the ban, Vassilev said that the Cabinet has been discussing the matter for several weeks now. "At the previous Council of Ministers meeting, we had a very long discussion on the matter and I presented the data on the losses to the budget for the first time," he specified. A decision has been taken that Bulgaria does not support an extension of the Ukrainian grain import ban, Vassilev added.