All eyes on whether Bulgarian President will put a spoke in the wheels of socialist billion-leva budget tinkering

All eyes on whether Bulgarian President will put a spoke in the wheels of socialist billion-leva budget tinkering


By Clive Leviev – Sawyer of The Sofia Globe

By August 7, it should become clear whether Bulgarian President Rossen Plevneliev has decided to exercise his limited right of veto against the Bulgarian Socialist Party government’s amendments to Budget 2013 that bind the country to huge new debt amid a lack of clarity about how the money will be used.

The Bulgarian Socialist Party government and its Movement for Rights and Freedom ally approved the Budget revision in Parliament, against widespread misgivings about the thinking behind the new debt – of about 500 million euro – and the fogginess around how it will be used.

The government, in place since May but the target of many thousands of Bulgarians demanding its resignation, has insisted that the Budget revision is essential because of fiscal mismanagement by its centre-right predecessors and to assist Bulgaria’s many socially needy.

But it also seems that of the projected huge sum with which taxpayers will be burdened with repaying, only about four per cent will go to socially-needy people, which – as critics put it – begs the question how the other 96 per cent will be used.

Those supporting the current administration in Bulgaria have tried to discourage President Plevneliev from sending the Budget revisions back for further consideration, with a number of figures from the socialist hierarchy insisting that were he to do so, this would be a violation of the prerogative of the government and (in a factual inaccuracy) claiming that no head of state of democratic Bulgaria ever has sent back a Budget measure.

Further, the BSP networks use their allied media and commentators to seek to daub Plevneliev as a marionette of the oligarchs that they supposedly are fighting – a claim vehemently rejected by the same anti-government protesters – while the same media stooges are used to seek to claim that Plevneliev himself is an oligarch.

Acting on proposals made public this past weekend by Dragomir Stoinev, who occupies the energy and economy portfolio in the BSP government, that the President meets with the Finance Minister to discuss the issue, a meeting was held on August 5 between President Plevneliev and Petar Tchobanov, the latter the new occupant of the finance minister’s chair.

After the talks, which involved officials from the Presidency meeting officials from the Finance Ministry, a statement from the head of state’s office noted that for some days, the public had been told that should a veto be imposed, “children with disabilities would have to go without an increase in benefits this month, and businesses would not be paid due payments; that such a veto would be ‘unprecedented’ or would cover up ‘a hidden political agenda’.”

Tchobanov told journalists after the meeting that the President was still making up his mind. Earlier, Plevneliev said ahead of the conclusion of the parliamentary processing of the bill that he was “ready” to impose a veto.

Should he do so, a vote of a majority of MPs would be sufficient to overturn his veto, although in practice this would take some time, because Bulgaria’s BSP and MRF MPs voted for the National Assembly to go on holiday from August 5 to September 4.