Sofia to see high growth rates in its first three years as an EU member

SOFIA (Reuters) – Administrative reforms and higher employment should keep Bulgaria’s economic growth running at higher than 6 percent annually in its first three years in the European Union, the government said yesterday. The Socialist-led cabinet presented a national reform plan in line with the EU’s Lisbon agenda, aimed at boosting the bloc’s competitiveness. Bulgaria joined the EU on January 1. The draft, drawn up by the Finance Ministry, foresees the economy expanding by around 6 percent a year through 2009. That growth should be achieved despite government plans to lead one of Europe’s tightest fiscal policies and produce budget surpluses of around 1.5 percent of GDP each year, it said. «Reaching these figures will cut the distance between the levels of income in Bulgaria and the other EU members and will raise the welfare of the people,» the draft said. Finance Minister Plamen Oresharski said growth could be ensured by creating a favorable business environment for investors in Bulgaria.