Bulgaria Sees Economic Growth, Inflation Picking Up This Year

By Reuters
October 6, 2021 Updated: October 6, 2021

SOFIA—Bulgaria’s economy is expected to rebound with growth of 4 percent this year and accelerating to 4.9 percent in 2022, the finance ministry said in its autumn macroeconomic forecast on Wednesday.

The small and open economy contracted by 4.2 percent in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic hit jobs and businesses.

The ministry said strong domestic demand in the first half of 2021 has prompted it to increase its GDP growth forecast from an earlier estimate of 3.5 percent.

Strong public and private investment, bolstered by expected hefty inflows from the European Union’s COVID-19 recovery fund, and an improved economic environment will further boost growth in 2022, it said.

The economic recovery and high global oil prices are expected to boost inflation to 3.8 percent at the end of 2021, which should slow to 2 percent at the end of 2022, the ministry said.

Bulgaria pegs its Lev currency to the euro under a currency board arrangement that prevents the central bank from setting interest rates and leaves fiscal policy as the main tool to influence the economy.

The Balkan country boosted spending to shield businesses and pensioners from the hit from the COVID-19 crisis but also decreased the fiscal deficit target to 3.6 percent of GDP.

A new wave of the pandemic that triggers restrictions and a failure to efficiently tap the EU recovery funds would pose risks to the forecast, the ministry said.

Bulgaria, which is facing its third general election this year in November, is yet to submit its national plan to make use of over €6 billion ($8.1 billion) in EU recovery grants.

By Tsvetelia Tsolova