The PM urged MPs to avoid setting up a “competition of promises” to citizens in this year’s EP and presidential elections, as was the case in 2009.
The Government assumed a new political agenda of the alliance between the Social-Democratic Union (consisting of PSD, UNPR, and PC) and UDMR before the Parliament. The joint plenum session of the two Parliament Chambers only lasted 20 minutes and it was a mere formality, since the document presented the priorities of the current parliamentary majority, not its governing agenda, and it was essentially identical to USL’s governing agenda of 2012.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta began his Parliament speech by wishing the new Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu, good luck and ironically expressing his conviction that the latter would not step down from the platform to announce his resignation. “I am convinced you will not step down during my speech to announce you are resigning, so I am safe,” Ponta said from the Parliament speaker’s platform, as cited by Mediafax. His allusion was directed at PNL leader Crin Antonescu, former Senate Speaker, who announced he was resigning during last week’s swearing-in ceremony of the Ponta Cabinet 3.0.
In his five-minute speech, the PM went on to urge MPs to avoid setting up a “competition of promises” to citizens in this year’s EP and presidential elections, as was the case in 2009. He stressed that because the current Government wishes to resume its term even after 2014, a responsible behavior is required. “I ask for the Parliament’s support in avoiding the mistakes made in 2009 – raising people’s expectations, becoming engaged in a competition of promises, and creating a true disaster like in 2010,” Ponta said, as cited by Mediafax. He reassured the MPs that his Cabinet’s objectives are still focused on major fiscal and budget measures, such as the measures related to the upper limit of the flat tax, cutting back CAS, and the non-taxation of reinvested profits.
Consequently, the new Executive plans to extend the taxation pool, cut back the VAT for basic food products while ensuring the necessary fiscal framework, reintroducing the 19 percent VAT, and cutting back employers’ CAS by 5 percent, if allowed by the fiscal and budget framework.
In addition, the Government intends to promote the development of a new sustainable pension system based on individual savings accounts that handle a larger percentage of the replacement income and the insured’s overall social insurance income.
According to the new Government’s agenda, the upper limit by which the minimum wage will increase by 2016 is RON 1,100, lower than the RON 1,200 upper limit set by the USL government in December, 2012. Other provisions refer to implementing the new Codes and European legislation in a fair manner and to a full extent, adopting the new Insolvency Code and crime-fighting program, building new penitentiaries, and implementing the concept of ‘Justice Quarter.’ Moreover, the Government wishes to devise a legal framework for introducing mother tongues in de-concerted state structures, while stressing that full equality of rights and opportunities to assert one’s identity should be the fundamental principle of inter-ethnic relations.
Antonescu: cheap, sweet light syrup agenda
PNL leader Crin Antonescu criticized the agenda assumed by the Government. “The situation is as follows: the Government is no longer a USL Government, but a PSD-UDMR Government; yet it has kept the old governing agenda (editor’s note – USL’s agenda of December, 2012), but added the assumption of several vague principles. Basically, it has poured water into wine by diluting a series of measures that were certain and part of a clear schedule,” Antonescu stated yesterday after the parliamentary group session. He explained he was referring to the fact that back when PNL was part of the Government, everyone knew very clearly when the 5 percent CAS cut-back would be implemented – as of July 1. “What we have now is not a governing agenda, but a cheap and sweet light syrup which tells us, ‘Yes, it had better work out well, if there is enough money, but we don’t know when the cut-back in employers’ CAS will be applied,’” the PNL leader added, while characterizing the PM’s agenda as “electoral.” If the Government planned to increase the budget deficit, this measure should have resulted in a clear commitment to cut back the CAS or relinquish taxation for reinvested profits, he noted further. “I don’t know much about spritzers; I do not have the necessary knowledge in this field,” Ponta retorted, emphasizing the agenda had been drawn up in collaboration with the Liberals when the USL Cabinet was founded, and it was not amended in the meantime.
PDL prepares censure motion
Hardly has the Government assumed its new agenda before the Parliament when the Liberal Democrats announced the censure motion against the new Executive was finalized. “The censure motion has been finalized and will be made public tomorrow (editor’s note – today). The two leaders are free to gather signatures from the opposition parties,” Vasile Blaga, chairman of PDL, stated. After USL broke up, discussions also ensued within PNL about filing a censure motion. Liberal sources quoted by Mediafax said PNL has no intention to join PDL in filing a censure motion.
The Constitution stipulates that the Government can assume a new agenda, general policy statement, or bill draft before the Chamber of Deputies and Senate in a joint session. The Executive can be demoted if a censure motion filed within 3 days of the presentation of the program is adopted in a joint session by majority MP vote. Otherwise, the bill draft amended or supplemented with Government-approved amendments, depending on the case, is deemed adopted, and the Government is bound to implement the agenda or general policy statement. Censure motions can be initiated by no less than one fourth of the total number of deputies and senators.