New US weaponry deal voted through
Bulgaria's Ministry of Defense (MoD) has agreed with the US to purchase 198 armored combat and auxiliary vehicles for the ground forces from the US in a deal worth an estimated 2.2. billion BGN. The details are set out in the new Investment Expenditure Project (IPP) which is awaiting adoption by parliament.
The document was quickly voted through by the council of ministers. It will almost certainly now go through the parliamentary committee on defense, perhaps causing heated debates among MP's.
Bulgaria is still waiting for the delivery of F16 jets following a deal with the US back in 2019. So another purchase of US military equipment could face a major backlash.
Lending back to single digits
The growth rate of lending has fallen below 10% for the first time since the beginning of 2022, according to monetary statistics published by the national bank. By the end of August 2023, the total volume of loans granted by banks in Bulgaria grew by just 9.68%. This follows 18 months in which values were in double digits.
The cooling was expected because even a year ago the ECB started tightening monetary policy to counteract inflation, and the BNB undertook a series of increases in mandatory minimum reserves. However, the effect is still far from what the regulator wanted, with the slowdown coming entirely from corporate loans. In August, the annual growth rate of business loans narrowed to just over 6%, compared to 7.22% in July and 8.35% in June.
VAT rate for restaurants still under dispute
Finance Minister Assen Vassilev is ready with tax changes which he is proposing as part of the procedure for adopting the budget for 2024. So far, they include one major change - the VAT rate for restaurants will return to its pre-Covid level of 20%.
However, it is not inconceivable that the level will remain at 9% due to possible political tensions if it reverts to 20 percent. GERB already announced that it is against going back to the 20%, so provoking more disagreements in the ruling partnership.