Bulgarian PM: Decision by end of July on cutting state subsidies for political parties

Bulgarian PM: Decision by end of July on cutting state subsidies for political parties

A decision will be taken by end of July on how much to reduce state subsidies for political parties, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said on June 25 after a meeting of the coalition council of the partners in the ruling majority.

Bulgaria’s Parliament has approved the first reading of a bill reducing state subsidies for parties and coalitions that got more than one per cent of the vote at the most recent election from 11 leva (about 5.50 euro) to one lev, but a second reading vote that had been scheduled for June 21 was postponed.

That move came against a background of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms having changed its position on the issue, from proposing cutting the subsidies to zero leva, to now wanting subsidies retained at 11 leva per valid vote.

Borissov, speaking after talks with United Patriots co-leaders Krassimir Karakachanov and Valeri Simeonov, and with the deputy leader of the third party in the United Patriots, Dessislav Chukulov, said that consultations in Parliament on the issue would begin.

The Prime Minister and leader of the GERB party said that his party remained firmly in favour of a subsidy of one lev per valid vote in the most recent election.

Borissov also responded to MRF demands about cutting VAT on certain items, saying that the ruling coalition agreement was that there would no changes to tax laws during its term of office, “so we will not debate any more about this issue”.

The parties in the United Patriots supported the first reading of the cuts to the state subsidies but asked for refinement of the texts before the final vote.

Simeonov said on June 25 that the decision on the subsidies had been hasty and should be postponed.

“We will seek a sensible solution, God grant, collectively. Naturally, it is also possible that a common solution is not reached, but we will try. Decisions in each of the parties were very premature, and I think that a broader dialogue and consultation is needed,” Simeonov said.

The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party has described the cut to the subsidies as “the death of multi-party democracy in Bulgaria” and earlier said that it was initiating all-party consultations on the issue. GERB refused the invitation, saying that it agreed with the government’s policy, and the only party to take up the BSP offer of talks was the MRF./ibna