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The Parliament passed yesterday, after approximately three days of debates, the draft Law of the state budget for 2013 proposed by the government, with 309 votes to 108. Also yesterday MPs adopted the draft Law of the budget of social insurances, with a score of 310 to 109. Only one amendment was accepted to this draft law, which eliminates the provision stating that main loan ordering entities must send to the Ministry of Finance “the structural detailing, based on functions, of the maximum number of posts financed through the present law and the base net salary per jobs, in 2013, within 30 days from the enforcement of this law.” The specialised committees explained that the amendment was accepted “for complete legal information and in order to get in line with the legal technique norms provided by Law 24/2000 on the legal technique norms for drafting normative acts.” The other 37 amendments to the law were rejected.
At the end of the vote, PM Victor Ponta said in plenum that it is not a perfect budget, but it is the best our country can have now. “Let me thank you on behalf of the government for the entire activity, for all the debates. This is not a perfect budget, but it is the best budget we can have today,” Ponta said, quoted by Mediafax. He added that he hopes Romania will have a better budget next year.
The debates of the two draft laws sparked tensions and disputes, as they went on very late on Wednesday night, until 2.20 AM. The MPs of PDL left the meeting hall around 00.30, because the chairman of the session, Viorel Hrebenciuc asked deputies and senators to vote on doing overtime work without verifying the quorum. “We decided to leave the hall because this is the second day of debates to the budget, there is no quorum for the session, the chairman of the meeting wants to continue the debates – we need quorum for this,” PDL leader Vasile Blaga explained.
Statute of MPs’ vote, delayed by a week
The Parliament decided yesterday, after several consultation breaks and verbal clashes, to delay the adoption of the Statute of deputies and senators that admitted the objections of President Traian Basescu and send the document to the Statute Committee. The controversies started from a new article which provided that the quality of deputy or senator ends when the report of the National Integrity Agency (ANI) which confirms the incompatibility remains definitive, by not being challenged in court. PNL senator Tudor Chiuariu said that, when the interval when the ANI report may be challenged in court ends, the mandate of senator or deputy rightfully ends, which is against the Constitution. “A mandate of a member of the Parliament cannot end after an act of communication, the PNL group will vote against this act,” Chiuariu said. Later, the speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Valeriu Zgonea (PSD) had a verbal clash with Liberal Puiu Hasotti, in which Zgonea said that the Parliament was disregarded because of ambiguity, while Hasotti retorted that the chair vacated by Roberta Anastase (former speaker of the Lower House) has something contagious in it. ”Each time we make a text which (…) would protect us from reproach (…) we take the floor and become an opaque body and this is why the press and the public disregard us and the European Commission makes a report about us. The first report that does not disregard the Parliament is this report (the MCV made public at the middle of last week). (…) Ambiguity is what made us pay,” Zgonea said. The leader of PNL senators was quick to retort. “The fact that the Parliament was disregarded for seven years is not an argument to allow this to continue. If the EC and the MCV say otherwise, it does not mean that we are deaf and mute and that Romania has become a colony,” Hasotti answered.
In his attempt to mediate this conflict, the speaker of the Senate, Crin Antonescu said that, besides the Statue of deputies and senators, the ANI law, too, should be “clarified.” According to the PNL leader, ANI should act in case of possible law infringements, by probing the conflicts of interests or situations of incompatibility, but its regime should not supersede that of the prosecutor’s office, because the Agency is not a court of law. “We cannot turn ANI into an administrative structure that does not belong to the court system,” Antonescu warned.
On the other hand, the Democrat-Liberals announced that they oppose the Statute of MPs and they will initiate a new draft law that will modify this statute, which will provide that, when a decision made by ANI on the conflict of interests in the case of a legislator remains definitive, the respective MP must be dismissed.
New issues with the statute of legislators: the incompatibility of lawyers
An article in statute of MPS regarding the incompatibility sparked heated reactions Wednesday evening, during the debates of the Statute Committee, after several legislators that are lawyers explained that there is “an incorrect wording” in the initial report of the commission, which would have made incompatible all the lawyers that are also MPs. “The lawyers, who are more careful than the others, came and warned that being invested in a position of public authority was incompatible with the profession of lawyer,” the chairman of the Statute Committee, Gabriel Vlase explained. He added that the new text which will be devised by the committee will keep the regime of incompatibility only for the lawyer MPs who plead in case of big corruption or against the state.