After meeting Premier Ponta on Monday at the Presidential Palace, the talks focusing on the issue of lowering the social securities contribution (CAS), President Traian Basescu on Wednesday announced a meeting with businesspeople on Thursday, to discuss the cuts to the social contributions. “I will also talk to representatives of the business community on Thursday – with some of them, I can’t discuss with all of them,” Basescu said on Wednesday on B1TV.
Basescu had announced on Monday his intention to discuss the lowering of the CAS with businesspersons, and mentioned that he has the necessary time, as the deadline for signing the related law is July 24. Asked whether he will challenge at the Constitutional Court the law adopted by Parliament, his answer was “that remains to be seen.”
The President once again criticized Premier Ponta and Finance Minister Ioana Petrescu, stating that Ponta never went prepared at the consultations at the Presidential Palace and pointed out that in order to prove that he could take the decision of publicly revealing all the meetings he had with Ponta throughout time. “They came up only with stories, slogans like let’s improve collection, let’s make ANAF work, slogans that any MP can come up with,” the Head of State pointed out.
Traian Basescu also stated that a measure such as the lowering of the CAS can be implemented only when there is a consolidated growth trend in the number of employees, that being the healthiest moment to apply it, “but unfortunately in our case there is a downward trend.” Nevertheless, asked whether he would adopt the lowering of the CAS at this moment if he were the Premier, the President said: “My answer is yes (…) if the political will materializes itself when it comes to other actions too, such as the lowering of public sector expenditures.”
The President said that he publicly revealed the recording of the discussion after Ponta accused him of having had “a rude attitude towards the minister.” “In my opinion it was an absolutely fair discussion. I didn’t offend her at any point,” Basesu stated, being of the opinion that Mrs. Petrescu is “well endowed theoretically, but her big problem is the lack of practical experience.”
President Basescu said he might release other recordings of the consultations he has had in time at Cotroceni Palace with PM Victor Ponta.
In reply, Premier Ponta stated yesterday that he made a mistake by showing up at the talks with President Basescu because he thought “institutionally” that there has to be respect between state structures, but he has concluded that “when you step into a pigsty you end up being eaten by the pigs.” Concerning the CAS, Ponta said that the social securities contributions will “obviously” drop on October 1, pointing out that the measure is backed by the business sector and can contribute to bringing jobs to the surface in the currently favorable economic context.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta declared on Wednesday that the reduction of the social security contribution (CAS) must be done now, when the economy sees growth and there are also additional budget collections. According to Ponta, if this measure isn’t carried into effect in the next period, it will never be, according to Agerpres.
‘Strictly in terms of sustainability, I once again looked through all the data: we have additional collections of 2.6 billion from the excise increase, 1.5 billion from the tax on special structures and I also verified this now, mid-year current revenues are by 3 billion lei higher compared to the year before. In strictly accounting terms, we can offset this measure, but the economy isn’t just accounting, it’s a bit of brain too. Now that we also have the Insolvency Code, we have 41 billion lei to recover from companies in insolvency (…) and we have 4 percent economic growth which implies that we can safely attain our budget collections. So for all these reasons and having all these figures in view, if we don’t reduce the social security contributions now we never will, it means that we will never be able in Romania to cut down any major tax if now, with all the economic growth and additional collections and certain revenues we don’t do it,’ Ponta explained at the beginning of the Government meeting.
He added that such contribution reductions can be undertaken only in a favorable context and assured the Government that reducing the CAS is a correct and sustainable measure, which is why it was also introduced in the political program of the USL, with all political forces endorsing it.
Basescu would nominate Dacian Ciolos as European commissioner despite
lacking PM’s mandate
President Traian Basescu declared on Wednesday that he would nominate incumbent European Commissioner for Agriculture Dacian Ciolos for a position within the next European Commission, as he does not need a mandate from the Prime Minister to this effect. “I do not need a mandate, I have the duty to defend the national interest,” the President declared on B1TV. He mentioned that he has discussed this nomination with the PM.
Before leaving for Brussels where he was to attend yesterday evening the European Council meeting, Basescu stated that the government has unacceptably delayed for far too long the nomination of Romania’s commissioner and in this situation, as a President, he is forced to give the EC President a name from Romania, considering that half of the EU member states have already filed to EC President Jean Claude Junker their nominations for the positions of European commissioners.
The President pointed out that Premier Victor Ponta should have already started the procedure for the nomination of the European commissioner, who should have been heard within the special parliamentary committees. “I don’t want to react to Victor Viorel’s statements, but at this hour, when the European Commission President is designated, Romania should already have sent the government’s letter with the name of its proposal. I am going to attend the European Council as Romania’s President. I cannot afford not to give Junker a name today, because I know that other states are also interested in the portfolio we seek. I cannot say ‘the Prime Minister did not do his homework,’” Traian Basescu said.
Basescu credits Johannis with chances in presidential elections
President Traian Basescu also stated on B1TV that PNL President Klaus Johannis has chances to win the presidential elections, on condition he enjoys the backing of all right-wing forces. He also pointed out that what is essential is for a formula of cooperation to be reached until the presidential elections. “I remain sceptical in what concerns the PNL-PDL merger,” Traian Basescu said, adding that he would never have agreed to this merger.
In what concerns PMP, the Head of State said that the party led by Elena Udrea should become more active in supporting Cristian Diaconescu, its presidential candidate, throughout the country. According to the Head of State, Cristian Diaconescu has reached 7 per cent and could pose problems. He also stated that as a former Foreign Minister and Justice Minister Cristian Diaconescu is “clearly superior” to Johannis. “I will back him as much as my position of President allows me to. I hope PMP will become more active in backing him throughout the country, as it makes up for the missing party branches they have, and I hope he will register an honorable score, or will maybe enter the runoff,” Basescu pointed out.
Ilie Sarbu, incompatibility law, in focus
The President pointed out that he has press information according to which “the great puppet-master at the State Assets Administration (ADS) is Ilie Sarbu, the father-in-law (the father-in-law of Premier Ponta – editor’s note),” adding that he is allegedly “one of the influential persons at the ADS.” Commenting on the fact that the Premier wants to send his Audit Body at the ADS, the Head of State said: “I state that the father-in-law is one of the influential persons at the ADS and that it’s not by chance that the ADS was transferred to the Prime Minister’s direct control.” “Just like I can tell you that at Eximbank there was huge influence peddling in what concerns the appointments made there and we will have to see the evolution of Exim-Asigurari and of Eximbank, as a consequence of these appointments,” Basescu added.
Regarding the changes brought to the law on local public utilities, a law that allows mayors and county council chairpersons to be members of their boards, Basescu said this might impede Romania’s accession into the Schengen Area.
As a reply to the accusations made by the president, leader of PSD senators Ilie Sarbu claims in a press release that “fear and desperation” made the Head of State to launch new scandals on the political stage. “In fact, that’s what he has been making a living with, intoxicating the public space for a decade. I mean here Traian Basescu, a character which harbors a terrible gnawing fear and easily explainable considering that his family is the target of large-scale legal investigations,” said Ilie Sarbu.
Traian Basescu: “CNA president is a person of poor quality”
During the B1 TV show on Wednesday, President Traian Basescu said that CNA chairwoman Laura Georgescu, involved in an influence peddling scandal, is a “poor quality” person and that he would rather she had resigned her position. “Ms Laura Georgescu must leave. She is appointed by the PM’s proposal. When did I realize she is a bad quality person? When she made a statement that she has the support of both institutions, the PM and the presidency. In order to save CNA independence, Ms Georgescu should leave the institution. CNA becomes a liability in the EU files,” said Traian Basescu. As a reply, Laura Georgescu told Mediafax yesterday that she did not break the law and did nothing against CNA, adding that an institution leader must have fair institutional relations with the major state institutions.