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Oct 31, 2007 11:04 EEST
(adds details) </p>SOFIA
October 31 (SeeNews) - Bulgaria’s government plans a budget surplus of 3.0% of the projected gross domestic product (GDP) in its consolidated budget plan for 2008, unchanged from the planned 3.0% surplus target for this year, the government said.
Bulgaria’s prudent fiscal policy is aimed at curbing the widening current account gap and the pressure on domestic consumption resulting from the inflow of funds from the European Union, which the country joined in January, the government said in a statement late on Tuesday.
The country’s current account deficit, which rose to 12% of GDP through August from 7.5% a year earlier, is expected to swell to around 20% of GDP this year from 15.7% in 2006.
The government is expected to approve the draft 2008 budget and table it to the Parliament later on Wednesday.
In its 2008 draft budget the government attaches priority importance to upgrading the public infrastructure and continuing reforms in healthcare and education, the statement said.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Bulgarian analysts have recently said the country needs to continue with structural reforms and focus on raising the efficiency of its education and healthcare sectors at a time when the Socialist-led coalition government is faced with a five-week strike of school teachers seeking higher pay.
The cabinet plans expenses equal to 40% of GDP under the 2008 consolidated fiscal programme, the statement said. It plans to spend 4.2% of GDP, equal to some 2.6 billion levs ($1.9 billion/1.3 billion euro) on education and an equal amount of money on healthcare in 2008.
The country’s fiscal policy will be aimed at encouraging investments and lowering direct taxes which is expected to boost competitiveness, curb the shadow economy and increase disposable income, the government said.
The government plans to keep the 10% corporate tax and the value added tax of 20% unchanged next year, while dividend tax is expected to be cut to 5.0% from the current 7.0%.
(1 euro = 1.95583 Bulgarian levs)
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