BTA News

Finance Minister: Bulgaria Can Become Full-Fledged Member of OECD in 1st Half of 2025

Finance Minister Assen Vassilev expressed hope that Bulgaria will become a full-fledged member of the Organisation of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in the first half of 2025. “We are working very actively towards Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen and the euro area,” he said at the third edition of the Powers Summit on Tuesday.

“I am grateful to the MPs because we are ready for the euro area in terms of legislation. There is only one law left concerning the Bulgarian National Bank. The country’s public finances are stable. Only the inflation criterion remains to be met, but we see that energy and food prices are falling faster. Over 60% of our trade is with Europe, house prices are in euro, many places issue receipts with the prices given in both euro and leva. There are groups of people who are constantly bombarded with negative messages. Businesses understand this and are aware that the euro changeover will do away with commissions and facilitate their access to Europe. Society has started to develop an instinct not to believe all the threats. There has always been someone who has been trying to scare us in recent years,” Vassilev said.

“The draft budget is expected to be ready by the end of the week. We expect over 3% GDP growth and an inflation rate of 4.8%, but it could be closer to 4%. In 2024, we expect GDP to reach BGN 205 billion. GDP growth this year could be just over 1.8%,” the Finance Minister added.

“I tell the foreign investors who come to this country to better go back home if they’re looking for cheap labour. There is no way to make the country rich with cheap labour,” Vassilev said. “People who emigrate don’t change dramatically, but they manage to get better salaries abroad and that means that businesses there are run better. This is also due to capital, broadly speaking: machinery, infrastructure, etc. That is why we want labour to become more expensive and we want to support capital investment. If we can get private capital investment to reach BGN 20 billion, we can have an economic growth of 6-7%,” he noted. 

“We reached an agreement with the Economy and the Innovation ministries to provide businesses with the highest possible state aid for capital investments. If we bring people’s incomes another 20% closer to the European average, we will start bringing people back to Bulgaria. But that is why it is important to fix the health and education systems,” Vassilev said.

“As far as education is concerned, we started allocating a lot of funding already under the last GERB cabinet. We carried on with this and now many young people are becoming teachers. It is important to make the education system suitable to the modern world, where creativity and teamwork are particularly important,” the Minister added. He called on the participants in the conference to find a way to organize their work so that their employees can earn a monthly wage of EUR 2,000 and vowed that the State would help them. 

Asked whether there would be Christmas allowances for pensioners this year, Vassilev said the Finance Ministry’s policy is aimed at a lasting increase in pensions. “This year, pensions were increased by 12%. Final estimates are needed to make a decision for next year. However, pensions will probably be raised by about 11%,” he said.