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May 29, 2022

Authorities blame media for “unjustified” chaos on social contributions

Labour Minister Mihai Seitan yesterday said only 5 to 10 per cent of the people who make money from intellectual property have submitted applications nationwide.

The labour minister and the presidents of the National House of Pensions and the National Employment Agency (ANOFM), Doina Parcalabu and Silviu Bian respectively, told a press conference yesterday that the crowd at the two institutions over the past few days was not larger than usual, and blamed the press for the panic produced.

“We have taken all the measures for this action to carry out normally and no crowding to happen, we extended the work time, increased the number of windows available. The majority of the people came on the last day to make the payments,” Minister Mihai Seitan explained, who rejected press accounts according to which 500,000 people were queuing to pay their social contributions, adding that according to information he had, only “about 20 to 30n people” were at the House of Pensions Thursday, and “two to three” at the Bucharest Employment Agency. Asked whether he went to see what the situation is on the ground, the labour minister answered in the affirmative, adding that he talked to people who were complaining they had to stay in line for a long time, they don’t know how to fill out the forms and about the lack of applications available.

“We make an effort to solve these problems,” Seitan assured.

In his turn, ANOFM President Silviu Bian denied that 500 persons waited in line at the Bucharest Employment Office, “as the press reported” adding that he even received thank-you letters at the headquarters of the institution he is in charge of for how the situation was handled. The labour minister on Wednesday called the “attack in the press” “groundless”, surrounding the alleged chaos created when the payments were made.

Minister Seitan also stated that only 5 to 10 per cent of all those who obtain revenues from intellectual property tendered the applications, with a wide gap existing nationwide between the number of statements for pensions and unemployment respectively. Mihai Seitan made the point an analysis will be conducted in the upcoming days to establish whether those who have so far submitted the applications for pensions were the same people who tendered the forms for unemployment. According to authorities, the bulk of applications were registered in Bucharest and Cluj. Ms. Parcalabu also said that pension payment could also be made in advance if intellectual property earners know exactly the amount they have to pay. Also, Bucharest residents may also send their pension contribution applications by e-mail at cpmb@cnpas.org. However, they shall send the documents required by postal mail later on. Mr. Bian said employment agencies nationwide opened accounts into which unemployment contributions could be transferred, with such accounts made public on websites and called for institutions to practice flexible work schedules so that all the applications are taken.

Democrat-Liberal’s criticism

It is Labour and Finance Ministers Mihai Seitan and Sebastian Vladescu respectively who are to blame for the crowding at windows, Democratic Liberal Party Vice-president Ioan Oltean told Radio France International (RFI). “I wouldn’t reproach government, I would obviously reproach the two ministers who are in charge and should have been in charge of it. (…) This government needs a fresh breath, via a reshuffle, which, in my view, should regard at least four-five ministers. It would give extra credibility and energy to this government, to mobilize it better towards achieving and finalizing the reforms already launched,” Oltean said. In a posting on his personal blog, Democrat-Liberal EMP Cristian Preda wrote that Minister Mihai Seitan should not be reshuffled but “made to stay in line” Preda said he is ready to cede the intellectual property rights from the publishing of some of his books to the labour minister, if Mr. Seitan or “one of his government mates gets bored and wants to stay in line at some windows”.

Artists threaten to go on fiscal strike

In a protest letter called “What gives you the right to you diminish our copyrights?” yesterday a group of nearly 100 artists – writers, film personalities, fine art artists, choreographers and musicians announced they would go on a fiscal strike starting September 1st until the Emergency Ordinance no 58/2010 imposing ‘discretionary measures’ by ‘overtaxing copyrights’ is abrogated.

The letter calls the “Government of Romania’s attitude to artists and intellectuals discriminatory, by overtaxing copyrights, and discretionary as well, given the obligation to submit three tax statements to three state authorities each month for each copyright.” The letter’s signatories announce they are going to “prepare some public protests in the country and abroad.” The letter is signed by, among others, Varujan Vosganian, writer, the vice-president of the Writers’ Union in Romania (USR), Dan Mircea Cipariu, writer, president of the Poetry Department of USR – Bucharest branch, Cristi Godinac, president of the Federation of Romanian Journalists MediaSind, George Arion, writer and journalist etc.

The Foundation for Citizen Defence against State Abuses (FACIAS) resolved to sue the Emil Boc-led government on account of the “shortcomings and contradictions between OUG 58/2010 and the corresponding methodological norms,” the foundation stated via a press release.

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