Bulgaria sacks finance minister after protests

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February 18, 2013 9:28 PM EST

Bulgaria's rightist government on Monday sacked Finance Minister Simeon Djankov, who has kept a tight fiscal policy as the European Union's poorest member recovers from recession, a day after nationwide protests over electricity prices.

Djankov's dismissal comes as the government tries to shore up its support with an election looming in July.

Djankov, 42, brought the budget deficit down to 0.5 percent of gross domestic product last year from 2 percent in 2011, gaining him respect in the EU as many nations in the bloc battled to keep their public debt under control.

The country's current EU funds minister, Tomislav Donchev, will double up as finance minister.

"Prime Minister Boiko Borisov will propose to deputies to vote on changes in the Bulgarian government. The proposal envisions releasing Simeon Djankov as deputy prime minister and minister of finance," the government said in a statement.

Tight fiscal policy helped Bulgaria maintain its currency peg to the euro, even as its economy shrank more than 5 percent in 2009 and has recovered only slowly since.

Djankov was an economist at the World Bank from 1995 until he became finance minister in 2009.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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