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UDMR and PPDD groups will be briefed on the budget – PM says – adding he does not expect any support, but noting that it is ‘a step to normality’. Ponta on the other hand will not present the budget to PDL, as the Democrat Liberals refused to meet.
Debates on the budget in the Parliament committees continued yesterday. Prime Minister Victor Ponta participated in a meeting with the USL MPs whose support he asked for the debates and vote on the 2013 draft budget. He said the budget was built on the idea of fulfilling promises made while in the opposition and which had brought USL its victory. ‘It is a substantial budgetary effort. We said our zero priority was to keep our word on these themes: allocations both for reversing the 2010 pay cuts and for increasing pensions in keeping with inflation,’ Ponta said. The PM pointed out that the sums for investment would be the same in 2013, even higher, with over EUR 1 bn in addition for the co-financing of European programmes. The PM also said that Romania had no obligation in relation to its international financial partners, that it can always say it has no more an agreement, but stressed that his choice was to send out a signal of stability by having an agreement in place. After seeing the USL groups, Ponta said USL MPs had shown solidarity and understood ‘it is the time to get down to work’. ‘I am actually grateful to my colleagues, USL MPs, for the solidarity they showed not just in the meeting, but also from now on, I know it. They really demonstrated solidarity and understood it is time to get down to work. It means that, through this budget, we are fulfilling the objectives that brought USL its victory and we are preparing a mode of development for the coming years,’ the PM said. Also yesterday, the PM said he would also present his draft budget to the parliamentary groups of the opposition, UDMR and PPDD, noting he did not expect them to support it with their votes, but that, in his view, a debate was a step to normality. ‘This is how I think we should work from now on: every year, all future PMs should also present it to the opposition, not necessarily asking for its votes. If they produce any good ideas, we will be happy to take them on. Otherwise, I know that every group will take this opportunity to ask us to triple pensions and increase budgets. That’s normal,’ Ponta said. The PM also said he would not present the budget to the PDL group as well, because the Democrat Liberals had not agreed to meet.
Budgets approved on conveyor belt, SIE gets more money
The budget of the Interior Ministry received a favourable opinion from the Defence, Public Order and National Security Committees with 19 votes in favour and six votes against. Interior Minister Radu Stroe said the sum approved at the moment was not enough to cover all needed expenses and he promised to obtain the difference at the following review. The minister added that amendments had been submitted during the meeting, but he had to propose to the members of the merged committees to reject them. After the meeting, the Chairman of the Committee on Defence, Public Order and National Security in the Senate, Corneliu Dobritoiu, said steps would be taken in the Government for an emergency ordinance to be adopted to allow MAI to obtain part of the money collected from the fines given by policemen. The proposed budget for the Foreign Intelligence Service (SIE) is RON 177,615,000, brining a decrease by 9.41 per cent. SIE yesterday asked the relevant Parliament committee to increase its budget proposed by the Government and the committee granted the request. The SIE Committee agreed the SIE budget should be increased by about RON 5-6 M for the procurement of IT equipment. A final decision will however be made after discussing with the Finance Ministry. Also yesterday, the Parliament Culture Committees issued a positive opinion on the draft budget of the National Broadcasting Council (CNA) in the version proposed by the Government which is higher than the previous year’s budget by approximately 15 per cent. This year, CAN will have a total budget of RON 8,451,000. The draft budget allocated to the public television (SRTV) was approved by the merged Culture Committees in Parliament yesterday, being smaller by 18 per cent than last year. The SRTV budget in 2013 will be RON 174,217,000. The same committees also approved the budget of the National News Agency Agerpres, which is higher by approximately 10 per cent than the 2012 one. This year, Agerpres’ budget will be RON 13,504,000.Yesterday afternoon, the specialised committees also approved the Government proposed budgets for the Ministry of Environment and Climate Changes (RON 2.208 bn), Ministry of European Funds (RON 184 M), Romanian Intelligence Service, Ministry of Defence (RON 5,642,856). Debates became more intense when the Education budget was discussed, where over 2,000 amendments were introduced.