Budget 2024 bets on more revenue from gambling, raises wages in a number of sectors

The consideration of the budget enters this week in the Plenary Chamber

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The Committee on Budget and Finance adopted the draft law on the state budget of Bulgaria for 2024 almost entirely in its second reading. Annex number 3, where the projects for financing the municipalities, remained for adoption. The Minister of Finance Asen Vasilev promised to submit by 12:00 tomorrow to the National Assembly all the proposals he received from the municipalities, as well as to consider all the corrections in the proposed projects, because the deputies found technical errors in them today, BTA reported.

The draft law is in the work program of the National Assembly with the number 49-302-01-76 and was introduced by the MC on November 24. The commission passed mostly the proposals of the parties that support the cabinet. They are mainly in a proposal for changes with signature 49-354-04-360, signed by Boyko Borisov, Kiril Petkov, Delyan Peevski, Yordan Tsonev, Temenuzka Petkova and Venko Sabrutev, submitted on December 15.

The source of the increased costs in the proposals approved today, which must also pass through the plenary, are increased revenues from gambling taxation, from VAT, including the advance declaration of goods with a high fiscal risk, as well as from a reduction in the capital program.

The changes propose an increase in salaries in government departments and funding for repairs and construction of public institutions, more money for culture and for archaeological excavations.

More gambling revenue

We expect BGN 200 million more revenue from gambling, said Finance Minister Asen Vasilev during the discussion of the draft budget. He was asked by MP Martin Dimitrov how much revenue for the state will be raised from the increase in gambling fees, included in the proposals for changes to the budget law made between the first and second reading. The proposals to raise gambling taxes are from the political parties that support the cabinet.

We are not changing the structure of gambling taxation, but raising the fees by two to four times. Separately, the entire structure of taxation can be changed in the law on gambling, Vassilev said when asked by People's Representative Rumen Gechev about the method of taxing gambling halls.

We are raising fees from BGN 100,000 to BGN 400,000 and so on in 5-6 places in the draft law, Vassilev said.

Licenses for the organization of gambling games such as traditional lottery, tombola, instant lottery, toto, lotto, bingo, keno, games with bets on the results of sports competitions and games with bets on random events will now collect a one-time fee of BGN 300,000 and variable of 20 per cent on the difference between the value of bets received and winnings paid out. Currently, for these types of gambling, the license maintenance fee is 15 percent on the value of bets placed on each game.

For a license for online betting, it is proposed that the state fee from BGN 100,000 becomes BGN 400,000, and 20 percent will be paid on the difference between the value of the bets received and the winnings paid out. From BGN 100,000 to BGN 300,000, the fee for a license for games in a casino with a license term of 5 years has been raised, and for a 10-year license from BGN 200,000 to BGN 600,000.

The fee for maintaining a license for slot machine games with a license term of 5 years is increased three times - to BGN 75,000 when the games are organized in settlements with up to 500,000 inhabitants, and to BGN 150,000 when the games are organized in settlements with more than 500,000 inhabitants.

In the Law on Corporate Income Taxation, it is proposed that the tax on the gambling activity for a gaming machine in a gaming hall and a gaming casino, respectively each gaming place thereof, should increase from BGN 500 to BGN 800 per quarter. The fee is for gambling, but it is in the Corporate Income Tax Act and has not been increased since 2012, said Yordan Tsonev, chairman of the commission.

The priorities of the parties - investments in education and health care

The parties supporting the government (GERB - SDS, PP-DB and DPS) have common proposals for changes in the draft budget for 2024, the chairman of the budget and finance committee announced. The committee is looking at the second reading of the draft state budget for 2024.

Venko Sabrutev, Deputy Chairman of the Committee on Budget and Finance presented some of the main proposals for changes.

Among the proposals are: Creation of a BGN 5 million "Stambolov" fund, with which outstanding students can study in prestigious universities abroad and then work in Bulgaria; an increase in the salaries of the pedagogical staff in kindergartens and nurseries and an additional equalization of the costs of supporting the children in them by about BGN 16.6 million; creation of a program with which schools, kindergartens and churches will switch to a regulated electricity market, added Sabrutev.

"It is proposed to prioritize the project to build a national children's hospital, which has no fiscal effect now, but a clear commitment that it will be built quickly; we propose to give an additional 500,000 BGN for a children's oncology center; BGN 4 million for youth centers; additional BGN 5 million for medical devices for disabled people; BGN 10 million for the BAS staff, an additional BGN 2.7 million for the cadets in the Ministry of the Interior; BGN 37 million for the construction of a cyber security center at the National Security Agency; BGN 2 million for salaries in the "Archives" agency; BGN 200,000 for the Dobruja and Thracian institutes; BGN 2.6 million for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; BGN 10 million for the Ministry of Innovation," said Venko Sabrutev.

An additional BGN 68 million will be provided in the "Culture" sector in the 2024 budget, indicated representatives of the budget commission.

In the revenue part of the budget, we propose to raise gambling fees, Sabrutev said. Yordan Tsonev added that these fees have not been raised for more than ten years.

Yordan Tsonev pointed out that the parties that support the cabinet will support the allocation of an additional 11.6 million BGN for salaries in the National Security Service, money will also be given for the continuation of archaeological excavations in the country. Money will be allocated for the Constitutional Court to repair a building; for the regional centers of BTA, BGN 2.2 million is allocated, as well as BGN 4 million for the Audit Office and another BGN 20 million for current repairs of buildings of the Ministry of the Interior, said Yordan Tsonev.

For the first time, the draft budget shows the projects with their valuation, this is a good step towards complete transparency - next year the parliamentary committees should be involved in prioritizing the projects, said the Minister of Finance Asen Vasilev. I agree that the preparation of the next budget should start earlier. We sent all the municipal projects to the parliament at the end of yesterday, added the finance minister.

A draft report on the second reading of the bill has not yet been published on the Parliament page.

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