Bulgarian president vetoes government plans to spend more

Reuters News
Posted: Aug 07, 2013 9:14 AM

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev vetoed a budget revision on Wednesday, saying the Socialist-led government had not shown enough transparency in its use of public money in the European Union's poorest state.

Last Thursday parliament backed a plan to raise new debt in defiance of the government's opponents, including protesters who have been demonstrating for weeks against corruption.

"I return the provisions about the revenues, expenses and planned new debt for reconsideration," Plevneliev told a news conference. "It is correct for the expenses to be transparent so that we know what they will be spent on."

Bulgaria's president is chosen by popular vote.

The government has said it will increase the 2013 budget deficit to 2 percent of gross domestic product from 1.3 percent to spur a weak economy and help the needy, raising up to 1 billion levs ($681 million) in new debt to finance the shortfall and payments on maturing debt.

The plan will now be returned to parliament with analysts expecting the assembly to overturn Plevneliev's veto when the lawmakers return from their summer holidays in early September.

The cabinet, led by Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski, is composed of Socialists and the ethnic Turkish MRF and has been in power for just over two months. It controls barely half of the seats in parliament and relies on the passive support of Attack, a nationalist party, to stay in office.

Supporters of the revision say Bulgaria needs more money to issue food vouchers for employees and additional funds for employment programmes for the disadvantaged. However, many Bulgarians say extra spending would just fuel inefficiency.

($1 = 1.4693 Bulgarian levs)

(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)