In Bulgaria, inflation remains one of the highest in Europe, over 16%. In this Balkan country, the poorest in the European Union, the rise in prices has become the major concern of households.
Pllamen, retired, is a regular at Pazar Zhenski in Sofia, an open-air food market. He complains about the rising cost of living which is eating into his purchasing power. ” It’s hard to get by, I buy fewer products, I put less heating in my house ,” explains the retiree. “ Just the liter of milk has reached 1.50 euros, it’s huge. Eggs have also increased, while our salaries are 500-660 euros per month. I come to this market because the products are cheaper than in supermarkets like Kaoufland and Billa . »
A situation that Svetka also complains about. This retiree regularly goes to this market to do her shopping. “ Prices have increased dramatically. It’s disgusting in a country like ours with low incomes , ”she says indignantly.
Inflation puts pressure on all sectors of the economy, including tourism. Lyubomir Popyordanov runs Odysseia-in, a travel agency. He was forced to increase prices by 20%, which penalizes the competitiveness of his company. “ Normally, Bulgaria was the destination with the lowest prices in Europe. I think that is no longer the case ,” he believes. “ Our prices have caught up with a certain average in Central Europe, whereas our standard is not that of Central Europe. This forces us to change the work model, removing travel services for example. »
Inflation at 16.4% in January
For Latchezar Bogdanov, an economist at IME, an economic studies institute based in Sofia, the main reason for this high inflation in Bulgaria results from the country’s proximity to Russia. “ Within the European Union, the countries of central and eastern Europe are the most affected by the rise in prices. Inflation is highest in the Baltic countries, followed by Bulgaria and Hungary of course… ”, explains the economist.
Then he adds: “ These are the countries which, historically and geographically and also commercially, had important relations with Russia and, to a certain extent, with Ukraine. The structure of their economies is such that they depend on Russian raw materials and energy. »
According to the government, inflation reached 16.4% in January, but Bulgarians are convinced that it is higher than the official figures.