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On his first day in the job, Bulgaria's interim finance minister deepened the gloom in Bulgaria by cutting the forecast for 2013 economic growth to 1.0-1.5% from the previous government's forecast of 1.9%, newswires reported.
Kalin Hristov - on leave of absence from his position as central bank deputy governor to join an interim government appointed by President Rosen Plevneliev to run the country until a May election - said the cut in the growth forecasts was due to primarily to falling exports coming on the back of the Eurozone crisis.
"This is conditional, assuming that theeuro zone- which is Bulgaria's key trading partner - would start recovering in the second half of the year," Hristov told reporters.
The economy of the EU's poorest stateexpanded by just 0.8% last year, which contributed to the sense of deepening economic despair that was manifested in protests against low living standards and high utility prices, which led to the downfall of the centre-right government of Boiko Borisov in February.
Hristov promised to ensure financial stability int he country, which so far has managed to maintain a low budget deficit and low external debt levels. IHS Global says: "The caretaker cabinet should reassure investors concerned about potential moves towards more populist policies and a departure from conservative fiscal policy. At his inauguration yesterday, Raykov stated that his cabinet would follow the 2013 budget arrangements and take no steps to undermine Bulgaria's currency board with the euro. Nonetheless, Raykov offered hope to citizens frustrated and angry about stagnant living standards and wages by stating that his cabinet would seek to improve pensions and support for the poorest with any available reserve funds. The caretaker cabinet's influence is significantly limited by the election in May. Nonetheless, the broad and technocratic makeup of the interim administration should succeed in preventing an escalation in public protests before the ballot."
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