On Thursday attention was mostly focused on parliamentary debates surrounding the state budget for 2022, with Finance Minister Assen Vassilev defending his proposed fiscal plan before the National Assembly throughout the afternoon. If you missed KInsights' overview of the projected state expenses, revisit our Wednesday piece here - and expect our overview once the budget is finally approved. In other news:
European Commission lowers economic outlook figure for Bulgaria to 3.7%
The European Commission has lowered its forecast for Bulgaria's economic growth to 3.7 percent for this year and 3.9 percent for 2023 in its regular winter forecasts published on Thursday. Last autumn, the Commission forecast 4.1 percent economic growth for the country's economy, followed by a 3.7 increase in the coming year. According to the Commission, the inflation rate this year will depend on the rise in energy prices and the regulatory decisions on how to adjust retail prices.
Parliament appoints Stanislav Todorov as head of the Energy and Water Regulator
After a heated two-hour debate Parliament elected two new members of the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (KEVR) - Stanislav Todorov and Blagoi Golubarev. Todorov takes over from current commission chairman Ivan Ivanov, whose term expired almost two years ago, and Golubarev - that of energy expert Evgenia Kharitonova whose term also expired in 2020. The nominations were supported by 128 MPs from the ruling parties, MPs from Vazrazhdane voted "against", and the opposition from GERB and MRF abstained. Mr Todorov has little experience in the energy sector and was only briefly appointed as deputy Minister of Energy in the second caretaker government last year.
High prices cause 24% increase in Bulgarian exports in 2021: NSI
Bulgarian goods worth 67.9 billion BGN were sold on foreign markets last year, preliminary data from the National Statistics Institute (NSI) show. This means that exports in 2021 grew by 24 percent on an annual basis and were up 16 percent compared to the pre-crisis year of 2019. In the past year Bulgarian export-oriented companies continued predominantly relying on the European market, where they sold about two-thirds of their goods. The country's trade balance for 2021 remains negative as the imports of goods is worth 76.7 billion BGN (growing by 27.5 percent compared to the previous year).