Bulgaria Public Finance Review 2023

Desislava Nikolova,  Collette Mari Wheeler,  Brian Erard, Monica Robayo,  Maynor Cabrera, Evan Harold Blecher, Mihaly Fazekas, Bence Tóth, Zdravko Veljanov, Viktoriia Poltoratskaia, et al. (2023) World Bank. 2023. Bulgaria Public Finance Review 2023. Washington, DC: World Bank

Bulgaria has traditionally adhered to fiscal discipline and prudent fiscal policy since the introduction of its currency board arrangement in mid-1997. After a gradual decline in the 2000s, public debt has remained among the lowest in the European Union (EU), hovering in a narrow band between 17 and 29 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) for the last 10 years. The low level of public debt has been supported by relatively low fiscal deficits or even surpluses in some years. This has helped the fiscal system absorb recent shocks relatively unscathed and provided sufficient fiscal space to address emerging crises and limit the scarring on economic activity, the labor market, and incomes. This report provides fresh evidence on Bulgaria’s fiscal landscape and some of the key issues that fiscal policy may need to address going forward. To start with, the report looks at opportunities to increase revenue collection with two special focuses – the value-added tax (VAT) compliance gap and health taxes (excises on tobacco and alcohol products). Social spending effectiveness in reducing headline poverty and child poverty in particular also requires urgent attention from policy makers. An updated fiscal incidence analysis shows that Bulgaria’s fiscal system has a limited impact on overall poverty; neither is it effective in addressing child poverty, as it reduces it by just 0.3 percentage points.

Read the full report here