The Council of Ministers adopted the draft laws on the state budget of the Republic of Bulgaria and on the budgets of the state public insurance and the National Health Insurance Fund for 2024. They will be sent to the National Assembly today. "The budget framework is clear. The budget is calculated at a 3% deficit under the Consolidated Fiscal Program. Sufficient revenues have been pledged, which are in line with the growth we expect in the economy, as well as with the tax legislation, incl. the main changes in the package of tax laws, which today the National Assembly adopted in the first reading. In the expenditure part, there is a significant upgrade of existing policies", said the Minister of Finance Asen Vasilev, who presented the main parameters of the adopted bill for the state budget.
The minister emphasized the policies related to improving the demographic picture in the country, some of which started with the state budget in 2022. This is a complex of measures related to the care of children and assistance to the parents who raise them. "This is the beginning of a consistent policy, which we hope will remain in the next budgets, to finally allow Bulgarian families to have children and be able to raise them adequately." He reported the results of the implementation of this policy. "In 2022, we saw that Bulgaria is in the top five of Europe in terms of birth rate. This policy, to have a real effect, must remain permanent within the next decade or two."
The other important policy, which is embedded in the budget in all its aspects, is a policy of permanently increasing the income of Bulgarian citizens by about 11%. The Minister of Finance added that the increase in pensions is of the same amount. "If we reach a threshold of 60-70% of average European incomes, this is the moment when part of the people who left the country start to return," stated Asen Vasilev and gave an example of some industries that give relatively high salaries and attract Bulgarian specialists to work for them in our country.
For the first time in this budget, the investment program is presented in an annex so that all investment projects are clear.
In response to a question about whether the capital program of the budget will be supported in the parliament, Minister Vasilev expressed the opinion that it is necessary for the departmental committees to carefully examine the received proposals and decide whether these are the most important and appropriate investments that should take place in a given sector.
Regarding the changes in the tax laws, which were voted on in the first reading in the National Assembly yesterday and today, the Minister of Finance believes that the most important thing is to have the sustainability of the tax system. The draft budget maintains the main tax rates, and the proposals for changes are related to tax collection. "If we don't want to increase taxes, we have to collect them," said the Finance Minister. The World Bank reports that the gray economy in our country is 30%, this means that one third of the economy is not visible from the tax system, therefore the proposed measures are for clarification. The goal is to make the gray economy at least 20% and to start paying taxes in the country, commented Asen Vasilev.
In connection with the information circulated today in some media that "income from the sale of 700,000 decares from the state land fund is included in the budget", Minister Vasilev replied that this is false news and there is no cause for public alarm on this topic.