site.btaNext Week Sofia Will Report to EC on Reforms for Second Recovery Plan Payment
In the first week of October, Bulgaria will present to the European Commission a package of completed national reforms required for receiving the second payment under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, Finance Minister Assen Vassilev said on Tuesday, as quoted by his ministry. He was speaking at a meeting with US businesspeople organized by the American Chamber of Commerce in Bulgaria.
Vassilev said: "The government wants to see this year's state budget implemented with a 3% deficit, as planned. We can stay within this limit without making any tough choices, because the money is here and we have it. The important thing is to spend it in the best way for the country and the economy."
He expects next year's state budget deficit to remain within 3%. According to the Finance Ministry, public revenues can increase as more of the shadow economy is brought to light, without changing tax rates.
The finance minister went on to discuss the reforms which need to be implemented in the budget sectors. He finds it necessary to revamp the concession system, the method of distributing farmer subsidies, healthcare spending and the National Health Insurance Fund budget. He said the Finance Ministry and the Labour and Social Policy Ministry are working together on a new approach to social assistance, which will be based on all types of income received by a given person, including rent.
Vassilev noted: "We do not plan any dramatic, radical changes in the budget for 2024. Where there are problems and distorted relationships in the economic environment, they should be straightened up. We should keep bringing to light [the intended contributors to] the revenue side of the budget, and we are taking measures in this respect. Some of the measures are related to changes in the tax laws which we have prepared."
Discussing the economic cost of Europe's green transition, Vassilev said some of the energy available to the European economy is between twice and three times the price of energy in the United States and about twice the price in China. "If we consider natural gas, the difference is between seven and 10 times. Such energy price levels make European industry uncompetitive. The awareness of this situation is growing, and it is discussed ever more widely," he said.
He expects that the European policy will be rebalanced and the energy price gap will be narrowed to make European industry competitive.
The Finance Minister commented: "The green transition factored into the National Recovery and Resilience Plan has been planned in a way that will not cause a dramatic rise in the price of energy in Bulgaria. If we make the greenest of transitions, but the price of energy doubles, it will be a suicide for our economy and our society as a whole." He called on all European countries to look for ways to make their energy globally competitive.