Bulgaria Table of Contents
As the chief financial instrument of economic policy making, the BNB assumed virtually all of the financial functions in the country under the centrally planned economy. Only the granting of foreign trade and consumer credits were separate functions, performed respectively by the Bulgarian Foreign Trade Bank and the State Savings Bank--both of which were subordinate to the BNB. The BNB worked with the Ministry of Finance to finance capital investments in the economy. The BNB also monitored the economic organizations that received investment funds to ensure their use for accomplishing plan targets. As enterprises became more selffinancing in the 1970s, a greater share of their investment capital was composed of bank credits granted by the BNB. Between 1965 and 1975, the BNB share of investment funds jumped from 7 percent to 54 percent; the trend then moderated as enterprises began to rely more on retained earnings to finance investments.
Like industry and agriculture, banking under the BCP experimented occasionally with decentralization but remained quite centralized until shortly before the overthrow of Zhivkov. A 1987 reform nominally split Bulgarian banking into a two-tiered system. The function of the BNB was restricted to money supply, although it also retained significant supervisory power. The reform also created several specialized banks including the Agricultural and Cooperative Bank, the Biochemical Bank, the Construction Bank, the Electronics Bank, the Transportation Bank, and the Transport, Agricultural, and Building Equipment Bank--each responsible for an industrial sector.
Post-Zhivkov banking reform began hesitantly but grew more comprehensive in 1991. In a controversial policy decision, the government first increased interest rates from 4.5 to 8 percent in 1990, then let them float freely beginning in 1991. Although the first private commercial bank was established in May 1990, a new National Bank Bill was not passed until June 1991. That law provided for a two-tier bank system independent of direct government control but accountable to the National Assembly. The first tier of the new system was to be the Central Bank, the second a separate system of commercial banks and lending institutions serving private citizens and enterprises. Three-month bank credits would be available to cabinet ministries. The BNB was to issue monthly balance statements and report semiannually to the National Assembly.
Data as of June 1992