A mission of experts of the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission here to review Bulgaria's economic sitation has concluded with a more optimistic outlook on the contraction of Bulgaria's economy in 2009, the Finance Ministry said.
The concluding meeting between Bulgarian government officials and the IMF mission took place on Monday.
The mission findings coincide to a large extent with the assessment of the new government on the economic situation in 2009 and the prospects for development in 2010, the Finance Ministry said. The IMF's assessment on economic growth is more optimistic than the projected fall of 7 per cent in the spring of 2009, and currents estimates of a 6.5 per cent fall are closer to the government's projections of a 6.3 per cent decline, which were used to adjust the budget.
The IMF projection for a decline of 2.5 per cent in 2010 is close to that of the government - of 2 per cent, on which the 2010 draft budget is based.
The mission concluded that without the additional measures taken by the government, the fiscal deficit in 2009 would have topped 3.5 per cent of GDP.
With the prompt actions of the new government, the IMF projects a minimum deficit in 2009.
The IMF has projected a 2 per cent deficit in 2010, but the government is determined to achieve a balanced budget.
Finance Minister Simeon Djankov said that no talks had been held on a IMF loan to Bulgaria. After a review of the EU economy due in February 2010, the government will decide whether to seek financial aid. The next mission of the IMF is expected also in February. Djankov said that the government is headed towards a reduction of the social insurance burden in 2010, which however will be difficult.
Djankov said that a balanced budget will be hard to achieve and that "the biggest struggle will be revenues".