PM Ponta said the 2014 budget will be put in place by taking into account the funding of the structures transferred from ministries to local authorities.
“This month, somewhere around the 15th, the Government will ask the Parliament for a vote of confidence for the decentralization bill, in order for the decentralization to be included in the 2014 budget, so that all structures transferred to the county and local authorities should be provided with a budget. We cannot transfer them without a budget, funding, what can the County Council president do with structures provided with no funding?”, Premier Victor Ponta told a press conference on Friday in Sibiu on occasion of the National Conference of Social Democratic Retirees, according to Mediafax. The last discussion on the decentralization topic took place last Thursday during the meeting of ULS’s leadership, Ponta said. According to him, this week Vice Prime Minister Liviu Dragnea is to provide the Government with more information about this bill. In his turn, Dragnea stated that he wrapped up talks on this draft law with the majority of parliamentary groups, with more discussions to be held only with the representatives of Dan Diaconescu People’s Party (PPDD, in opposition) and those of the minorities.
On the other hand, PM Ponta reiterated that “the flat income tax will not be hiked”. He also said that during their talks, the Romanian officials and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) representatives have considered the possibility of increasing wages at least for “resident doctors and other categories of workers.” “I always said and I keep saying that the flat tax rate will not be increased, but it’s all in vain. (…) The other matters related to the budgetary construction of 2014 are being discussed by Vice Prime Minister Chitoiu, he will inform us when talks are finalized and only then we shall take a decision. (…) There is no sense in discussing things during negotiations,” said the PM. On Thursday, Ponta announced that the flat tax will be kept steady at the current rate of 16 per cent, without switching to progressive taxation.
He also said that this decision has been made as early as since the founding of the Social Liberal Union (USL, the ruling coalition).
Prosecutor’s Office protects former rulers
When asked about the Prosecutor’s Office being notified of the huge cash bonuses the members of the Counter-Guarantee Fund have granted themselves, Victor Ponta said the Control Body drew up “an extremely thorough” document to be sent to the state’s institutions. “(…) We are talking about evidence. We have been sending extremely thorough documents containing evidence for a year and a half to the Prosecution’s Office, still nothing is happening,” Ponta added. He also said that the former ruling party (the Democratic Liberal Party – editor’s note) is enjoying “some sort of protection”, but “this protection will expire in December 2014.” In addition, the PM mentioned that he wished that the Government’s notification would be checked and rejected if based on unfounded grounds, but he thinks it will not be the case. “I notice that Mr. Blejnar is very well, that he is happy. No one is disturbing Mr. Duta. Mr. Blejnar has been questioned, but only a little, he is also happy. I have noticed that there is still this full protection granted to the former ruling coalition. I really want this protection to be given to the law and not to political affiliation. If one is a member of the USL Cabinet, the file is formulated within a week. But if one is from the PDL Government, she/he has no problem for a year and a half and the file is still under examination.” The Government announced that it would notify the Prosecution’s Office of irregularities identified in the activity of the Romanian Counter-Guarantee Fund between December 2009 – August 2013, including by granting huge benefits and bonuses and reimbursing restaurant meals of the leadership as business entertainment expenses. The findings of the investigation were sent to the Finance Ministry, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Prime Minister, the Court of Accounts and the National Integrity Agency (ANI).
PM Ponta booed in Sibiu
Ponta was loudly jeered in Sibiu by about 30 people, who are against the Rosia Montana gold mining project. The demonstrators chanted “Shame on You!” and they held in their hands tomatoes to send the message “We want to be a healthy tomato, not a rotten pickled green tomato.” The PM, flanked by policemen and the representatives of PSD Sibiu, entered the venue of the conference without making any gesture as regards the protesters. A female protester wearing black clothes was holding in her hands a wreath with the message “Ponta and the Government.” At the end of the press conference, Ponta went out of the hall through a side exit in order to avoid the demonstrators waiting for him in front of the building. Liviu Dragnea faced boos when leaving the Thalia Hall, as the protesters shouted “Shame on You” and “Resignation.”
Dragnea: I feel honoured of us being accused of convincing people to go to the polls
On Friday, Vice MP Liviu Dragnea told the participants in the National Conference of Social Democratic Retirees that he is “honoured” to be accused alongside them of having convinced citizens to go to the polls, adding that he has “no doubts at all” that he will be the person in charge of the election campaigns of PSD in 2014. In the file known as “Fraud during the referendum”, Liviu Dragnea, then secretary general of PSD, currently deputy and vice prime minister, was formally charged with having used his authority in order to obtain a turnout of minimum 60 per cent that guarantee the validation of the ballot.