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Bulgarians deeply worried by economic crisis, poll says

Bulgarians were becoming seriously concerned about the ongoing economic and financial crisis, according to a survey by the Open Society Institute in Sofia, Bulgarian-language Dnevnik daily said on April 22 2009.

The survey was done in March and April 2009 and showed that since last October, the share of people who expected the economic situation in Bulgaria to become worse had risen from 42 per cent to 54 per cent.

Fears of worsening unemployment rose from 20 per cent to 44 per cent. At the same time, expectations of increasing prices dropped from 32 per cent to 20 per cent.

People were showing more trust in the country’s banking system (48 per cent) compared to last October (27 per cent).

The support for the Currency Board in Bulgaria has also increased from 45 per cent to 55 per cent. The Currency Board is a mechanism put in place after Bulgaria’s financial meltdown in 1996/97, and by pinning the value of the lev to that of the euro, maintains the local currency’s stability.

The survey also sought opinions on the actions of Bulgaria’s Cabinet after the financial and economic crisis emerged. Just 14 per cent of those polled thought that Prime Minister Sergei Stanishev’s action plan was having a positive effect. Sixteen per cent thought negatively of the plan and 68 per cent did not what it involved, and considered that nothing was being done to fight the crisis and its effect on Bulgaria.

A few days before the release of the survey, Social and Labour Policy Minister Emilia Maslarova said that she suspected that someone was trying destabilise the labour market in Bulgaria.

She was referring to media reports that unemployment in Bulgaria was really about 13 per cent while she said it was 6.88 per cent.

“This horrifying number serves the interests of someone who wants to undermine Bulgaria’s labour sector in all its dimensions. You known that one per cent of increased unemployment means that 37 000 people have lost their jobs. If unemployment was 13 per cent, then about 222 000 people would have lost their jobs in March,” she was quoted by news agencies as saying.

According to Maslarova, in March the number of people registered as unemployed was 254 899. Her projection for April was that unemployment would be no more than seven per cent.  Sofia Echo

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