Bulgarian Economy Minister Opposes Reform Setback

Bulgarian Economy Minister Opposes Reform Setback

Bulgaria's Minister of Economy, Energy and Tourism, Traycho Traykov, is against the move of his own cabinet to up social security payments by two percentage points.

Traykov made comments for the media Monday about the agreement between part of the business, the labor unions and the cabinet of the center-right Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria (GERB) party to increase the social security payments by 2 points, saying the move is sending bad signs to investors, while small increases of 1, 2 or 3 percentage points would not do anything to solve the problems of either the retirement or the health care sectors.

The Minister pointed out that in order to eliminate the imbalance, the payments must go up at least 20 percentage points and the way to go is to implement both the retirement reform and the health care reform. (It was already announced the cabinet has agreed to postpone the retirement reform until 2015 in order to fulfill labor union demands.)

Traykov reminded that the example of high social payments in the 90s in Bulgaria shows such measures do not yield positive results, adding there will be businesses who would not be able to pay even the 2 percentage increase and this will lead to lower wages and layoffs.

"The only right move is to carry out reforms; to follow in Europe's footsteps where, with the exception of France, the retirement age is 65. And Bulgaria is the country with the highest share of elderly people - the increase of the retirement age cannot be avoided," the Minister said.

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