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September 29, 2022
POLITICS

Labour Minister resigns amid EU project involvement row

Two former labour ministers, Marian Sarbu and Gheorghe Barbu mentioned as possible replacements.

Labour Minister Ioan Botis yesterday announced his resignation following the scandal of his conflict of interest in connection with an EU financed project. Botis noted that it was a resignation of honour and apologised for the situation created, saying he had informed PM Emil Boc and President Traian Basescu about his intention on Tuesday.

‘First of all, I wish to apologise for the one day delay of the presentation of my resignation.Today, with this small delay and with the due apologies, I am submitting my resignation. I am resigning for morality reasons. I consider this to be a resignation of honour. I apologise to the citizens in my capacity as a minister,’Botis said. ‘In legal terms, my wife was employed by an association in which we hold no interest. She was simply hired’, the minister added, noting that he would deal with his problems ‘inprivate’. In fact, Botis also apologised to the people of Bistrita, as well as to the representatives of the government because it was an unpleasant situation  and he did not want them to be in the situation where they must give explanations.

The minister then reviewed the various normative acts he had been working on and thanked his team at the ministry, saying that his seven months there had beena very good period in terms of preparing legislation. The minister added that a total of 18 normative acts had been tabled in Parliament, including the unitary wage law, the labour code, the social dialogue laws, the daily workers law, the indenture law which is now in Parliament and the social work law currently under debate, posted on the ministry website. Botis also said he was very attached to the project for the establishment of nursing homes for elderly citizens. He noted that the terms of a loan had been negotiated with the World Bank for the reform of the social work system and all conditions for the reform to continue had been fulfilled.

At the same time, the minister also thanked the employees of the Ministry of Labour, recognising the ‘good results’ obtained during his seven months together.PM Emil Boc said he had accepted Botis’ resignation and he would send the president his nomination for a new minister in a few days, without disclosing the name. Meanwhile, Boc appointed state secretary NicolaeI Vaschescu as interim minister.

POSSIBLE REPLACEMENTS

Antena3 TV quotes government sources as saying that the possible replacements are Marian Sarbu (UNPR), Claudia Boghicevici, PDL deputy or Gheorghe Barbu (PDL), former labour minister. Other sources quoted by Realitatea TV indicate Secretary of State Valeriu Mocanu. Another option mentioned is the Chair person of the Culture Committee of the Chamber of Deputies, Raluca Turcan.

Cartel Alfa President Bogdan Hossu said yesterday that PDL might give the Ministry of Labour to one of the two other parties in the ruling coalition:the National Union for the Progress of Romania (UNPR) or UDMR, in order to resolve some of the issues it experiences in the government. In the trade union leader’s opinion, if the new ministeris a PDL member, he or she would still be submissive to Traian Basescu and the things begun by Botis would be carried on to the detriment of Romanian workers. Yet, PDLVice-President Gheorghe Flutur assured that Labour Ministry belonged to PDL. As a matter of fact, party leaders pressured PM Boc to name a Democrat-Liberal Labour Minister. While in Devafor party leadership campaigning,Vasile Blaga also made it clear the Labour portfolio belongs to PDL. “Democrat Liberal Party has 400,000 membersand it is able to set up four governments not only to give a Labour minister,” said Blaga.

HISTORY OF THE SCANDAL

The scandal irrupted in the media on Tuesday, after the National Integrity Agency (ANI)and OLAF had identified a possible conflict of interest in Minister Botis’ situation regarding a project implemented with European funds.

More exactly, the minister’s wife was working as an advise ron a RON 2.13 M project conducted by the EuroActivAssociation in Bistrita Nasaud, and whose European financing had been approved by an institution reporting to Minister Ioan Botis. In addition, HotNews says the Parteneriat Euroactiv Bistrita NGO received the EUR 500,000 financing only a month after Botis had been appointed as minister. Linking the minister to the project was not at all difficult, as, apart from his wife, his private adviser and former head of cabinet were also involved init. More than that, the head offices of the association are based in a building which is the minister’s property.

On Tuesday, after the case had been covered by the media, Minister Botis said his wife would withdraw from the project. Her monthly salary in that position was about RON 8,000.

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