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March 23, 2023


We are going through tough times and nobody knows where the current crisis is taking us or how long it will last. From the optimistic forecasts at the end of last year we have come to estimates of a GDP drop of 4 per cent, while the latest IMF analyses are pointing to a negative growth of 8 per cent in 2009. Maybe the forecast is too pessimistic, but what is certain is that the budget revenues are falling dramatically and the Government is forced to cut its expenditures in most sectors. The promise to invest EUR 10 bln this year has been lost in the fog of war registered during the Government’s first months in office and the private companies in Romania, irrespective of their size, are complaining that the Government has failed to adopt at least one measure meant to stimulate private initiative.

On the contrary, their representatives state that some measures are actually burying the companies, with the now already well-known lump tax being one of those measures, a tax whose introduction has been repeatedly supported both by Finance Minister Gheorghe Pogea and by Economy Minister Adriean Videanu. As a consequence of its application, thousands of companies have ceased their activity, while others have a hard time avoiding bankruptcy while paying it. The arguments so full of certainty are slowly starting to fall apart. An increasing number of voices within PSD and PD-L, the governing parties, are criticizing the measure as being counterproductive from an economic point of view during the crisis. We reached the point in which even Economy Minister Videanu admits that the adoption of that tax was a mistake. It was an error but the tax remains in force and the Finance Ministry is talking shyly about an estimative timeframe (September-October) when the tax could be cancelled.

We are living a time of anomalies in politics and in the economy and Mr. Videanu’s statement is only a small example. Let us not forget that the governance is exercised by a Government made up of two parties situated at opposite ends on the political spectrum and the cooperation of the two sides making up the Boc Government is flimsy and at many times only a matter of appearances.

The two parties are equal at least when it comes to one thing: each of them has a Minister under Parliamentary investigation. Youth and Sports Minister Monica Iacob Ridzi (PD-L) is under investigation for spending EUR 600,000 – 800,000 on occasion of the Youth Day (May 2), while Environment Minister Nicolae Nemirschi (PSD) is investigated for offering an advertisement contract worth EUR 500,000 without holding a public tender. What do the two have in common? The lack of concern and of restraint when it comes to spending public funds at a time when the citizen is asked for sacrifices and patience, wage cuts and income cuts or unemployment. Or when he is simply sacked. In this context, carelessly spending considerable sums on actions whose results are at least doubtful seems an absurdity. However, watching the determination with which the Ministers support their points of view and their innocent perception on spending money, one can hardly abstain from wondering how we ended up in this absurd situation in which the ones with a mandate to efficiently manage the public funds are arrogantly looking down on the citizen that voted for them.

The same contempt towards the citizen can be seen in the case of the magistrates too. For days now they interrupt their work from 9 am to noon. The citizen finds himself forced to wait for hours on end or to see his trial infinitely postponed. Should we overlook the fact that the magistrates’ statute contains the interdiction to protest by interrupting court activity? Or should we overlook the Constitutional Court’s decision that the wage hikes cannot be decided by the courts? The certain thing is that the magistrates are dissatisfied and they want the resignation of the Justice Minister because they are not given the 50 per cent bonus for neuro-psychic strain… This isn’t about wages; it is about a bonus whose name is hilarious to say the least. Minister Predoiu’s explanations that the money for bonuses are lacking now and his demands for a respite of several months in the hope of seeing a financial recovery have come to naught; the protests will go on!

And since we mentioned the Constitutional Court, it has been revealed that Ioan Vida, its president, has other “jobs” too. According to the mass media, he wins RON 10,000 a month from the CCR but he is also paid for a full-time job at the Western University in Timisoara. The distance between the two jobs is approximately 500 kilometres and in order to get his second job Mr. Vida sued the University. The University’s legal argument that only the people who have their work-card filed there can hold a full-time job, came to naught. Mr. Vida obviously won the trial!

And if the absurd was not enough, let’s see what is going on with the Government’s much-hailed ‘First House’ program. Last Wednesday Prime Minister Boc himself watched as a young couple and the BRD signed a contract. Enthusiasm, optimism, live broadcasts. One of the televisions had the curiosity of seeing how the ‘First House’ program works ‘on the ground’ and used a hidden camera to record the answers received in four banks in Bucharest. Well, none of the banks had applied the programs’ working rules and nobody knew when and how the program will be applied. Asked how come the Prime Minister was shown on TV watching over the signing of the first contract, one of the bank clerks answered: ‘What they’re saying on TV is one thing and reality is another…’

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