The President claims he has not discussed agricultural issues with Victor Ponta because the Prime Minister does not answer his calls. Ponta replies: I don’t answer phone calls from rude people. Ponta added that Basescu is always “lobbying”, both privately and in public, for his sponsors, the great agriculture tycoons, which shows petty and illegal interests are being played.
President Traian Basescu wasted no opportunities to criticize the Ponta governance. Yesterday, on a trip to Fundulea, Calarasi County where he participated in “Procera Research Day”, Basescu stated that the government has “played a major part in sabotaging Romanian farmers this year” and he was aware of the fact that, despite a large production, producers will not receive deposit certificates.
“Last year was quite a bad year for agriculture and this year, despite a large quantity of produced wheat, rye and barley, due to the lack of deposit certificates, farmers will have the same profit, if that, as last year, which was worse. I think that’s outrageous”, the President said, according to Mediafax. He claims that if deposit certificates had not been eliminated by the government, Romanian agricultural producers would have had an entirely different power of negotiation. Moreover, he added, if producers had stored their products in warehouses and taken out bank loans based on those certificates, they would not be at the hand of purchasers who buy at lower prices, such as EUR 147 per ton of wheat.
“I can only say either the governance is poorly conducted or the Minister of Agriculture, who should have informed the PM of the consequences, wanted to favour purchasers. (…) The government has played a major part in sabotaging Romanian farmers this year. Not to mention the Diesel fuel subsidy!” the President pointed out. According to him, the fact that only four or five major foreign companies are currently dominating the cereal purchase market should be looked into by the Competition Council because differences between purchase prices are very small – 1 euro per ton of wheat.
Basescu stated that the export of raw agricultural material at low prices, like EUR 147 per ton of wheat, compared to EUR 150 European subsidy per hectare, can only damage Romanian agriculture. This sector should refocus on exporting finished livestock products. In the following years, he emphasized, there should be a reversal of Romanian agricultural strategy and the strategy on agriculture up to 2030, which is soon to be finalized by the Presidency, takes this aspect into account. According to the President, this issue is related to national agricultural policies, as well as the farmers’ approach. Once again, Basescu warned that the agricultural education structure must change to ensure that people know how to operate the modern agricultural equipment and technologies which are currently being brought to Romania, referring to the sophisticated machinery he had seen at an exhibition in that field.
Asked by journalists if he tried to discuss agricultural matters with PM Victor Ponta, Basescu answered dryly: “He doesn’t answer my calls”. The statement came as no surprise, seeing how the PM himself has frequently stated he no longer speaks to Basescu on the phone. Ponta said he has not spoken to the President since the accident in Montenegro that resulted in the death of 19 Romanians; at that time, he realised the Head of State “used the dead to serve his interests”.
The Prime Minister replied his institutional relations with the Presidency are very good, but he would not return phone calls from “rude people”. He added that he did not expect President Traian Basescu to use a famous line, namely “The Prime Minister doesn’t want to speak to us”. He also pointed matters have regressed to last year’s situation, when the President was sabotaging the government.
“I will send the Parliament the ordinance that mutilated the law on establishing agricultural chambers”
However, Basescu stated he would ask that the Parliament not to promulgate the law approving the Emergency Government Ordinance (OUG) used by the government to “mutilate” the previous law on establishing agricultural chambers. The reason for this, he said, was because the law enabled these chambers to become political: “Establishing private agricultural chambers is the only way to strengthen the activity of agricultural producers and farmers on a County level. Unfortunately, implementing the law was postponed by six months last year, and this year, the law has practically been mutilated by a new emergency ordinance and these agricultural chambers could become political again”. He claims the respective emergency ordinance “distorted” the purpose of establishing the chambers and would, therefore, not approve their promulgation.
“The law was meant to offer farmers the possibility of ensuring themselves counsel and consolidating their national cooperation, but now all has come down to the prefect organising the establishment meetings. Financial resources have been cut back and so on…”, the President added.