The president explained, once again, on Monday evening, on the national television, the terms of the new precautionary agreement with the IMF.
“We can draw it at any point. EUR 3.1 bln, from the Fund, and EUR 1.4 bln, from the European Union,” the head of state said, adding, however, that “if things continue at the same pace, we won’t need to take this loan”.
The president added that he had insisted upon introducing in the new agreement with the IMF the matter of the managers of state-owned companies. According to the head of state, although he had called on all Governments to depoliticize the state companies and their managers, no one heeded him. “It was a political algorithm and I had to run the risk of bringing down the Government to solve the matter and, then, I insisted on having them introduced in the agreement with the Fund,” Basescu said.
The president reiterated his solution, that of bringing private managers at the helm of these companies, adding that these managers didn’t need to be foreigners and that they could be paid “any amount”, provided that they did a good job and solved the problem of arrears. He argued that the major problem of the state owned companies had to do with stocks, where acquisitions are made by political contracts, giving as an example a situation he came across during an inspection at the Bucharest Public Transport Direction (RATB), while being the Bucharest mayor. “At that time, I came across stocks which amounted to a total value larger than the value of the Direction’s means of transport clumped together, there was enough chlorine to clean all the water close0ts in Romania – I’m giving an example -, enough Wellingtons for the entire population and enough doorknobs for all the blocks of flats in Romania,” Basescu stated. As an example of political influence, the head of state mentioned the case of the former Hidroelectrica manager, Oprea, whom the former Economy Minister, Adriean Videanu, replaced, but who was brought back three weeks later in the position of deputy director general.
As regards the privatisation of some of these companies, Basescu mentioned that there was, at present, “an optimal level of the privatised sector in the Romanian economy” and that a positive effect of the crisis was the fact the state remained a majority shareholder in companies like Romgaz, Transelectrica, Transcom. Moving on to another topic, the head of state criticized the National Tax Administration Agency (ANAF), which he characterized as one of the most ineffective institutions in the country.
We are ready in case crisis makes a comeback
According to Basescu, Romania is ready to face a new outburst of the economic crisis, as the country has been stabilised and all risks of an economic slippage were neutralised. Basescu argued that, most likely, by mid-2012, we would start feeling “in our own pockets” the effects of a growth in purchase power. “I am saying ‘most likely’ because the greatest risk now is the temptation of saying we are stable and we can afford to raise wages and pensions. Romania risks sliding back in the situation it was in when acting recklessly,” the president warned, however.
On the shield and Lazaroiu
The head of state criticized the honorary president of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) Ion Iliescu, as well as the Speaker of the Senate, Mircea Geoana, for their “vacillations” as regards the hosting of the anti-missile shield. “It is this kind of people that stalled us in the 1990s. This is why Romania is lagging behind, because we wavered. I didn’t waver. I stated, from the beginning of my term, that we have a strategic partnership with the USA, which is a safeguard for our security,” Basescu said.
As regards the resignation of his advisor, Sebastian Lazaroiu, the head of state argued it hadn’t been a sanction, but an amiable parting of ways and that he had no qualms about calling the latter to ask for a political opinion.