2.1 C
March 30, 2023

What responsibility?

There has been much talk about ‘political responsibility’ lately. We have got so used to this interesting expression that we started to consider it as something given and unanimously accepted. Certainly, in consolidated democracies, whose economies can be considered as what they should really be, responsibility can take concrete shapes and represents the starting and ending point in many situations. But how does responsibility stand in Romania?

Political responsibility is completely absent. Its only effect is that a politician won’t get re-elected if he fails. Period. In other words, even if he made wrong “macro” decisions, committed huge debts that pushed the state in a big financial trouble, politician X can take comfort in the idea that he completed his term in office, did his “duty” to the country and can retire to his estate, without any hindrance. The public sanctioned him by barring his access to public dignities – like this were the citizen’s real problem.

Every four years, each government that gets in power casts the blame for the country’s misfortunes on the previous governance. The latest such a “show” relates to the Liberal government of 2005-2008, which had PDL as partner during its first two years in power. Now we learn that every mishap originates in the two years when PDL left the Liberals on their own. Waves of accusation poured upon them, and PM Emil Boc pointed the finger at former premier Calin Popescu Tariceanu for the signing by the Romanian state of a contract with Sterling company regarding the underground resources of a territory that is being disputed now with Ukraine. Tariceanu sued for defamation and lost at the Bucharest District 5 Tribunal, on a first instance, but will file an appeal etc.

Supposing that the upper court will uphold the sentence, should we understand that the Liberal is responsible for the contract, as accused by Boc? How will he answer in the court of law? Will he pay the cost of the lawsuit, plus possibly a fine? And what will come next? Will he be held liable for the contracts so unfavourable to Romanians? What if the court rules that everything was legal and Premier Boc made unfounded accusations? You can bet nothing spectacular will happen in Romania. In any variant, the responsibility of politicians is nil.

The government recently took responsibility for the austerity plan that will curb expenses by reducing pensions and salaries. Preceded by fierce disputes, the debate proved the strong resentment and lack of dialogue of parties towards each other. But the no-confidence motion initiated by the opposition did not meet the necessary number of votes, so the Boc Cabinet will have the occasion to operate the income cuts it took responsibility for. But what is the government’s responsibility? It’s nil! Premier and ministers admitted that, last year, they lied (or did not say the whole truth) about the situation of Romanian economy. “We could have lied for six more months, but we preferred to tell Romanians the truth,” our Finance minister proudly told us. A similar statement was made by the Transport minister. But what is the responsibility of the premier and other ministers for lying to the people? What is the president’s responsibility for hiding the same truth, and for asking the population to make a sacrifice now? Where is the responsibility for the fact that, although they knew it, they did not take measures in 2009, only because presidential elections were coming and any unpopular measure would have lowered the chances of candidate Traian Basescu to be re-elected?

Now, the government asks us to accept a tough austerity plan, which it took responsibility for. Most economic experts believe that the salary and pension cuts won’t end on December 31, because the economy will not recover in such a short time. Central Bank officials explained that, even with these measures in place, the risk still exists that authorities won’t be able to pay salaries and pensions in the coming months. Another BNR official considers it will take anywhere between 18 and 24 months for the austerity measures to have effect on the budget deficit. So, another lie takes shape, “served” by the government: the lie that the “torment” will be finished at the end of this year. Finance Minister Sebastian Vladescu warns that, to return salaries at their present level, authorities must lay off some 100,000 civil servants. Ministers must already know that the austerities measures cannot end when promised, but they claim the contrary. Who will answer – and how – for the current austerity plan’s failure to curb the budget deficit?

The government? Will the government go if the plan fails? Let’s say it will. Emil Boc will resume his activity as law professor in Cluj, Economics Minister Adriean Videanu will go back to his business with marble and his 20-room villa on the banks of Snagov Lake; the minister of Regional development and Tourism Elena Udrea will start doing business together with her husband Dorin Cocos, Transport Minister Radu Berceanu has his businesses that run very profitable deals with the state, Vasile Blaga’s son-in-law also has a firm doing business with the state etc. What will responsibility mean? Just losing their positions? A too small price for such a big lie…

Romanians will pay the price, anyway. If the plan fails, we already know what’s next. The VAT, flat tax and other taxes will go up.

But who will bear the responsibility for the pensioners who won’t survive this austerity, which cuts their pensions by 15 pc while increasing the prices of medicines from 10 pc to several times their current price? Some time ago, journalists were speaking of social genocide – an expression also used by the opposition when it initiated the no-confidence motion in Parliament. This may be an exaggeration. But, the way things are now, someone still has to answer, sometime in the future, for the chain of errors that put many old Romanians the back against the wall. It is very late already.

Even the long-awaited Cabinet reshuffling was pushed back to September, to give ministers time to prove they are capable of making reforms. But was there any sign of this until now? It is high time for them to answer, because a new respite will solve nothing, like always in Romania.

Related posts

A position


So Far, So Good