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Bulgaria Foreign Debt Stands at EUR 36.6 B End-April

Date: 10.06.2009

Bulgaria's gross foreign debt totaled EUR 36.6 B at the end of April, marking an increase by EUR 127 M on the month, central bank data showed. The debt, which accounts for 107,9% of gross domestic product (GDP), edged up by 16,6% on an annual basis.

The public and publicly guaranteed external debt decreased by EUR 64.7 M in comparison with the end of December and totaled EUR 2.655 B or 7.8% of GDP. On a monthly basis, however, the debt rose by EUR 70.3 M mainly because of new loan from the World Bank.

Bulgaria's long term-debt dues stood at EUR 23.4 B or 63.9% of the total foreign debt, while short-term liabilities stood at EUR 13.2 B.

The country paid a total of EUR 2.6 B to service its gross foreign debt in the first four months of the year (7.7% of GDP), down from EUR 2.9 B (8.4% of GDP) in the same period a year earlier.

Economists have warned that given Bulgaria's large external debt and current-account deficit, the country may require some financial assistance from the IMF and the EU.

The country has already entered recession with its economy shrinking 5% from January to March and contracting 1.6% in the fourth quarter on a quarterly basis.

Bulgaria's gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 3,5% in the first quarter of 2009 on an annual basis, the first time that the country's GDP marked a year-on-year since the financial and economic crisis in 1997.

The ruling Socialists claim that Bulgaria is better prepared to weather the global crisis in comparison to other European countries thanks to its prudent fiscal policy and does not need IMF aid for now.

Bulgaria currently operates in currency board regime and the lev is pegged to the euro.

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