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Bulgaria Cabinet Puts Forth 82 Anti-Crisis Measures

Date: 20.09.2009

A crackdown on corruption in European funds absorption, speed-up in the process for joining the euro exchange-rate mechanism and quick VAT refund feature on the list of eighty-two economic anti-crisis measures that the government approved on Wednesday.

The proposed measures are short-term and are scheduled to be implemented by June 2010. They are expected to lead to the creation of 150,000 new jobs.

The government also assigns great priority to the equal development of all regions in Bulgaria and leveling off the huge differences in the living standards and opportunities for doing business in them.

The government plans to keep the current tax rates unchanged and cut social security payments by 2% from current 31.6%

"I am not going to propose normative changes, which will prevent banks from changing unilaterally the conditions for credits. The government is not in a position to give orders to the Bulgarian National Bank," Finance Minister Simeon Djankov said at a press conference.

"These measures aim the development of the Bulgarian economy. My priorities are Bulgaria's entry to the eurozone by the end of this government's term and balanced budget for 2010, which will give a clear positive signal to the foreign investors," the minister commented.

The cabinet does not plan additional cuts in administrative costs other than the already announced 15% in the second half of this year that will help save BGN 1,2 B. Plugging loopholes in excise tax collection and curbing contraband is expected to help cover another BGN 1.3 B.

The 15% cut in public spending is the biggest fiscal limitation in the European Union, while the budget deficit reduced five times to BGN 105 M in August from BGN 564,3 M in July.

Most experts have welcomed the measures of the new government, but others have warned that they may deepen Bulgaria's recession.

The list of anti-crisis measures comes fifty days after the center-right government of GERB party came into office after sweeping the elections on July 5.

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