GOVERNMENT IS ALREADY WARMING UP FOR 2004 BUDGET
A month and a hlf after the beginning of 2003 the Cabinet began to prepare its financial plan for 2004. On Thursday (February 6) the ministers discussed the procedure for drafting next year's budget, to be voted by Parliament in December. One of the aims in working it out will be to continue the policy of low budget deficit and reduce the tax burden on firms and citizens. According to experts from the Finance Ministry, legislative amendments will be passed in September, which will result in a decrease of the social insurance rates and the profit tax. The procedure for preparation of the 2004 Budget projects fixed terms, in which the ministries and the institutions will have to coordinate their plans for expenses with the Finance Ministry. The 2004 Budget should pass three discussions in the Council of Ministers before moving it to Parliament.According to the approved new rules for drafting the 2004 Budget, the ministries should present their intentions for the next three years. The Ministry of Economy, the Social Ministry, and the Transport Ministry, will have to work out programmes for the sectors they are responsible for. This obligation was included in the Strategy for Utilizing the Structure Funds and the Cohesion Fund of the EU, which was approved by Parliament in the spring of 2002. In order to make things easier for his colleagues in the strict fulfillment of their tasks originating from the new procedure, the Finance Minister Milen Velchev and his team project to work out special instructions for the preparation of calculations for the 2004 Budget.