Bulgaria’s government adopts €593.1mn package of social and economic measures to tackle coronacrisis

Bulgaria’s government adopts €593.1mn package of social and economic measures to tackle coronacrisis
By bne IntelliNews July 27, 2020

Bulgaria’s government announced a new package of measures worth a combined BGN1.16bn (€593.1mn) on July 27, aiming to help the economy to overcome the coronacrisis.

The measures come after the cabinet has been strongly criticised for the lack of adequate measures after the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in mid-March and amid thousands-strong anti-government protests lasting nearly three weeks.

The new package, seen by many as yet another attempt to calm down the political tensions, includes BGN731.5mn for social measures and BGN431.4mn for economic measures.

As of August 1, the government is increasing payments to personnel involved in activities to contain the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) by 30%. The government will pay an additional BGN92mn for extra work in the structures of the health, labour and interior ministries and other state institutions. Another BGN24.6mn will cover additional costs for child healthcare and social services.

All retired people will get BGN50 monthly in the next three months as additional aid, which will cost BGN318.3mn. The government will also spend BGN17.3mn to increase the subsidies for hospitals.

The government also included in the sum payments for personal assistance to disabled people, which the state is obliged to provide even without the coronavirus outbreak.

Meanwhile, the government announced it will invest money in initiatives aiming to support the tourism sector, including a state subsidy for charter flights and a lowering of VAT on all tourism services to 9%.

Many of the social measures were strongly criticised as those the government has pledged to implement for years but has failed to do so. These include the additional aid for retired people, the money for social assistants, the increased payments for child healthcare, the subsidies for hospitals and others.

Moreover, the measures were seen as adopted without any strategy or planning for the future, including in case the crisis lasts for years. It was also criticised for the lack of will for reforms and seen as a populist move amid the political crisis.

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