In the third quarter of 2009, the cost of living in Bulgaria decreased 0.5 per cent from June 2009, and over a one-year period it increased 1.5 per cent, data of the Institute of Social and Trade Unionist Studies with the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) show.
The main signs of price stagnation were detected in June, and a real decrease was registered in September, said Institute Director Lyuben Tomev. Whether these signs will last after the upward trend registered over the last two years, or whether they have seasonal nature, depends on the dynamism of changes in the following few months, the economic experts of CITUB believe.
According to them, the main reason for the decrease in the cost of living is the seasonal price fall for some foods, particularly fresh vegetables and fruit.
At the end of September 2009, the monthly cost of living stood at 478.33 leva per person of a four-member household (two adults and two children). In the aggregate, such a household should have 1,913 leva monthly in order to meet its expenses and to eat according to the standards of calorie content of food, the Institute said.
Over that month, food prices decreased by an average of 1.5 per cent, but price changes are varied for the separate groups of commodities. In the group of fresh and canned vegetables, a 15.6 per cent decrease was registered. With the season's mass consumption vegetables, such as tomatoes and peppers, the seasonal decrease was between 34.4 and 55.2 per cent. Compared to September 2008, fresh vegetables were 4.1 per cent cheaper.
A 13.8 per cent decrease was registered with fresh fruit over the quarter, and a 7.7 per cent year-on-year decrease. The price fall for the season's most widely consumed fresh fruit - apples and grapes, was between 39.6 and 58.3 per cent. In the group of bread and cereal food, an average decrease of 0.4 per cent was registered in the third quarter of the year.
With non-food goods and services, prices grew an average of 0.4 per cent in the third quarter of the year, and 1.3 per cent year-on-year. An upward trend is observed with all groups of commodities; a price fall was registered only in the group of "Lighting, heating and energy".
Services in the group of "Education, leisure and entertainment" grew more expensive by some 4 per cent. The Institute's experts believe that this is due to higher tuition fees. They note that in higher schools the increase is between 2.7 and 9.5 per cent. There was also a considerable price increase for services related to leisure and culture - an average of 6.8 per cent. A typical example are the higher prices of cinema and theatre tickets - respectively, by 11.4 and 7.5 per cent.
A comparative analysis at the European level shows that the measured 0.2 per cent annual inflation in Bulgaria is close to the average level in the EU countries. The average level of inflation in the EU in September 2009 was 0.3 per cent year on year.
The poverty line in Bulgaria, based on a consumer basket of 77 essential goods and services necessary for physical survival, is 182.98 leva per person per month, which involves a 1.1 per cent decrease from June 2009 and an 0.8 per cent decrease from September 2008, the Institute reported.