EU Finance Ministers Approve Bulgaria's Convergence Programme, Urge More Fiscal Conservatism

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Meeting in Brussels Tuesday, the EU Finance Ministers approved Bulgaria's convergence programme and urged it to stick to its present fiscal policy and take measures towards increasing its budget surplus, Bulgarian Finance Minister Plamen Oresharski told reporters. He was among the participants in a Council of Ministers in Economic and Financial Affairs, reported BTA.

Prepared late last year and presented in Brussels early this year, this is the first convergence programme of Bulgaria. It is an element of the process for fiscal monitoring and control over the EU member states. Convergence programmes are developed by countries which are not part of the euro zone and are meant to ultimately result in the adoption of the euro.

The position of the EU Finance Ministers echoes a recent statement by the European Commission following a review of the convergence programme. The Commission said that while Bulgaria's budgetary position is sound, it should achieve higher surplus than planned for 2007 and also for the coming years, so as to foster macroeconomic stability, and reduce external imbalances. It also called on improving the efficiency of its public spending, including by reforming the Bulgarian health care sector.

The Bulgarian Finance Minister said that a contemplated increase of wages in the public sector should not result in fiscal tensions and should be effected "in a way that would not send bad signals to the private sector". He believes that the wage increase should not outpace the improvement of labour productivity.

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