Bulgaria's equivocation over condemnation of Putin and ambivalence over NATO membership, for fear of offending the country's Russophiles, appears to be ending, at least at official level. Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, commenting today during the 16th Annual Business Meeting with the Government, organized by Capital Weekly, called for a transformation. "We must draw a distinction between our fondness for Russia and the Putin regime. These are two different things. Bulgarians should reject dictatorship and the war and should realize the advantages of being a part of the EU and NATO," he commented. The focus of the meeting was the crisis in Ukraine and its impact on Bulgaria.
Bulgaria was not prepared for large influx of refugees
Bulgaria, criticized for its slow response to the flow of refugees, was not ready for such a crisis, Prime Minister Petkov admitted today, noting that there were now between 2 to 3000 refugees each day. "The previous model was based on putting refugees in camps, locking them up and nothing more," he admitted, promising an overhaul of the system.
He also indirectly criticized the previous government (ruled by GERB) for not having a contingency plan for war. He pointed out that Bulgaria didn't have a clue what to do in case of increased radiation levels and that bomb shelters have been neglected for 30 years. The new government, he promised, would have to fix these problems quickly.
Inflation up 10% in February
Inflation continues to rise, reaching 10% in February on an annual basis, data from the National Statistical Institute show. The rate is comparable to levels seen at the end of 2008, but so far remains below the peaks of the global financial crisis. In just one month, consumer prices grew by 1.4% compared to January and the inflation rate since December 2021 has been 2.9%.
"Fuel, metal and food prices will obviously push inflation up. The impact on economic growth is unclear because we will lose the markets of Russia and Ukraine but goods that we have so far imported from those two countries are being substituted by supplies from Europe," said Finance Minister Assen Vassilev today.
Another 0.5 bln levs in government T-bonds for next week
The state will hold a new auction for the sale of government securities for another 500 million levs next week, this time with 7.5-year maturity. Yesterday - on Monday, in its first entry into the domestic debt market in 2022, the government successfully raised 0.5 billion levs. Judging by the auction on Monday, and the risk premium at the initial opening of this issue last November, the yield will probably be higher - maybe 0.9%. The reason is the geopolitical risk arising from the war in Ukraine.