Minister of National Defence Mihai Fifor on Wednesday announced that the negotiations with General Dynamics company for the armoured carriers have reached the final stage.
“We have reached the final stage of negotiations with the General Dynamics company for the armoured carriers. Many people asked why we didn’t sign the agreement late last year. The answer is very clear – for we did not negotiate enough and we wanted to negotiate of such a manner to obtain a good a deal as possible, so that the Romanian state would benefit of a fair price for the carriers. We hope that this week we will be able to conclude the negotiations with the General Dynamics and sign the agreement,” Fifor told a press conference.
He also added that the investment programme for the endowment of the army is going as planned and voiced hope that next week the project regarding the acquisition of the HIMARS rockets will also reach the Government, so that in the beginning of the new parliamentary session it could be approved by the Legislative.
According to the Minister, the project regarding the multifunctional corvettes is almost ready, with the documents for the second Patriot system to be signed this year.
” 200 posts to be put up for grabs at Cantacuzino Institute. Flu vaccine production to restart in 2 years”
Defence Minister Mihai Fifor stated on Wednesday, at a press conference, that he considers putting up for grabs 200 posts of various expertise at the Cantacuzino National Research Institute, emphasising that the production of flu vaccine will start in two years’ time and the BCG and other known Institute brands will be relaunched.
“We have an organisational chart that we have approved, centred on 1,075 posts if I’m not mistaken, and this year we will start with a memorandum we will take to the Government, with 200 posts we want to put up for grabs in order to be able to hire at the Cantacuzino Institute. These 200 posts are distributed based on the expertise and the needs that the Institute currently has. I’m not talking about personnel that would work on the Institute’s production line but mostly about specialists,” Mihai Fifor pointed out.
Via Government decision, the Institute was transferred to the MoD. “I don’t want this to be seen as some sort of miracle that will bring back to life, all of a sudden, everything that the Cantacuzino Institute once stood for. The Armed Forces are not miracle workers, but we believe that in partnership with the colleagues from the Cantacuzino Institute, with a more judicious management of the Institute’s resources, and by reconnecting the Cantacuzino Institute to the network of specialised global institutes, plus with military rigour, we will be able to very shortly bring the institution back to the level it should have been at,” Mihai Fifor explained.
The MoD leadership is focusing on the continuation of activity within the institution. The minister believes that the lack of specialists is the institution’s biggest problem.
“I believe the biggest problem that this institution currently has, the problem that at one point resulted in the cessation of vaccine production, is the fact that very many of the specialists of the Cantacuzino Institute chose to leave the institution, and this is the most sensitive issue we are facing,” Mihai Fifor said.
There is the need for serious financing in order for the Institute’s laboratories to become top laboratories, according to the Defence Minister. “For that, there is the need for an infusion of personnel, there is the need for serious financing, and there is the need for investment in infrastructure. We will do all this starting in the spring of this year.”
Minister Mihai Fifor added he will form a partnership with the ‘Carol Davila’ University of Medicine and Pharmacy. “In partnership with the UMP, with any other medical education institution in the country, we want to continue this collaboration, we want to continue to form here future specialists in the domain, through the activity that UMP’s teaching staff carries out within this institute. Next, we will figure out, alongside the Education Ministry and the Health Ministry, the way in which we will organise the residency posts starting this autumn, in order to thus cover Cantacuzino Institute’s needs too.
“The Cantacuzino Institute will be a top Romanian institution,” according to the minister. “We will start to work on experimental production. We want to be able to form here, on the [production] line, the future specialists for the production we will launch in a new facility. I’ve told you during our previous meeting too and I’m telling you today too: we are in the stage in which we are identifying a plot of land owned by the Ministry of Defence, where we will build a new vaccine production hall.”
Mihai Fifor says he will relaunch the production of the flu vaccine, and the Cantacuzino Institute will return to well-known brands. “The most optimistic variant for bringing the flu vaccine back on the market points to a period of one and a half years to two years.”
He stated a new industrial hall for vaccine production will be built.
“As soon as we identify the plot of land we can start the project of an industrial hall for vaccine production. The MoD has all the resources necessary to be able to carry out such an investment and we guarantee we will carry out such an investment. Nobody is leaving the Cantacuzino Institute. On the contrary, we are hiring, we are analysing the way in which we will handle the transfer to the military side,” Fifor said, adding he wants the hiring of specialists taking place in the military system so that they would have a double capacity.
In what concerns the products the Institute was producing, the Defence Minister said he will re-analyse the portfolio. “We’re not hiding it, we all know that the production ceased because at one point there was no longer the green light from the ANMDM. I won’t comment why, how, in what circumstances this green light was no longer issued. However, I know one thing: Romania can and must be a vaccine producer and the Cantacuzino Institute can do this.”
The national laboratories of reference will remain within the building located on the Independence Boulevard. “The research side, the educational side, will remain here, things that are taking place right now too. From here we will take out the production side. I don’t believe it’s natural to have a vaccine production facility in downtown Bucharest,” the Defence Minister added.
Mihai Fifor talks about Gov’t reshuffle: “It’s the PM’s right to think through such a rearrangement”
Defence Minister Mihai Fifor believes it is Premier Mihai Tudose’s right to think through a “rearrangement” of the Government.
“In what concerns the Government reshuffle, I believe everyone has already been informed and knows the decision of the [PSD] Executive Committee, namely that at the ExCom meeting in Iasi, which will take place on January 29-31, Premier Mihai Tudose will come up with a proposal so that it could be analysed by this party leadership body. Allow me not to comment on this. I’m a member of the Government. It is Premier Mihai Tudose’s right to think through such a rearrangement of the Government if he, as Prime Minister, feels the need to do so. There are issues that are discussed and decided, on one hand, within the alliance – because we’re not alone in Government, we are alongside our partners from ALDE – and, on the other hand, within the party’s Executive Committee,” the minister stated during a press conference on Wednesday.