SOFIA : The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday backed the efforts of Bulgaria’s embattled Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski to maintain macroeconomic stability in the European Union’s poorest country amid continuing street discontent. “Policy continuity has supported sustained macroeconomic and financial stability, despite political and social challenges and external headwinds,” IMF mission chief Michele Shannon said Thursday. Oresharski’s minority cabinet has faced persistent calls from the street to resign ever since taking office in May. Recent student protests have given the movement new momentum.

The economist premier has vowed to stay on, rushing through a series of measures to boost revenues by cutting contraband and removing red tape for businesses as a way to kickstart the anaemic economy.

On Thursday, parliament passed the country’s 2014 budget bill that promises increased social spending and much needed reforms in health care, pension and education.

The bill is based on 1.8-percent growth and a public deficit equal to 1.8 percent of gross domestic product. It also sees an average annual harmonised inflation of 1.8 percent, while keeping public debt among the lowest in the EU at just 22.1 percent of output.

Bulgaria’s government hopes to wrap up 2013 with 0.6-percent growth and a public deficit of 2.0 percent of output with third-quarter figures showing Thursday an encouraging pick-up in exports that compensated for slow domestic demand.

The IMF official saw next year’s budget targets as “achievable” on Thursday.

“Recovery in trading partners and higher domestic demand, including through EU funds spending, should underpin growth of about 1.6 percent in 2014, with a modest increase in prices,” Shannon said.

The official predicted that emigration and ageing as well as slow productivity growth and investment will keep hindering growth and job creation in the EU’s poorest country.

According to Shannon, Oresharski was likely to find it difficult to build support for his reforms in the tense political situation.