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June 29, 2022

Cabinet considers new ministry for EU funds absorption

President Basescu made an unexpected visit to PM Boc, the two talked about setting up a new ministry to manage European money, as well as stock exchange, Oltchim and Rompetrol.

The Government held a special meeting on Thursday to analyse the progress in EU money absorption, preceded by a visit paid to Victoria Palace by President Traian Basescu. He discussed with the premier but chose not to make any statements before or after the talks. Mediafax quotes political sources as saying that the two addressed subjects such as the stock market, Oltchim, Romania vs. Rompetrol court action, the absorption of EU funds and investment. ‘They discussed ways to step up the sale of the state’s minority interest in various companies, solutions for the litigation between the Romanian state and Rompetrol, for making Oltchim company viable, as well as for expediting EU/state budget-funded infrastructure projects’, said the sources. Another topic which seems to have been addressed was the setting up of a Ministry of European Affairs. ‘The option of setting up such a ministry that would manage the projects financed by the EU was analysed by the president and PM. But that is a lengthy procedure which would also require the vote of the Parliament’, the same sources noted. According to them, the people considered for heading the new ministry are UNPR leader Marian Sarbu and presidential adviser Leonard Orban, former European Commissioner appoin­ted by Romania. As a matter of fact, Marian Sarbu was seen walk into Victoria Palace during the president-PM talks yesterday.

The chief of the Executive had announced the special meeting discussing EU funds already on Wednesday, when he said that the monitoring of the process of attracting EU funds would continue over the summer period. ‘The absorption of European funds is a subject that is being permanently monitored by the Government and tomorrow (today – our note) we will have another meeting on the absorption of European funds so that no one will lift up foot from the gas pedal’, Boc was saying.

In June, President Traian Basescu urged the ministers to think if they still wish to be on the Cabinet should the first half data show a low EU fund absorption and investment level in their respective fields. He also gave them a deadline to assess their performance: June 30.

On the other hand, PDL Vice-President Sever Voinescu, who is also spokesman for his party, said the Government reshuffling had not been on the agenda and that he didn’t know if the president’s call on the Government had something to do with that or not. ‘A Government reshuffling has not been discussed in PDL. Currently, PDL is in a process of evaluation of all its members appointed to political positions, secretaries of state, under-secretaries of state and so on.

This evaluation process will continue. W planned this process taking place during the summer,’ he said. Voinescu added that the Government itself was undergoing an assessment of its ministers and that the EU fund absorption was a top priority, as it is an important criterion in the evaluation of the relevant ministers’ performance. Asked if Traian Basescu’s presence at the Government had something to do with the subject, Voinescu answered: ‘I do not know’.

Closing down decentralised institutions, simulated

Meanwhile, ministries seem to be performing a mock abolition of the various decentralised institutions operating at a county level in the context of the planned re-organisation of the national territory. ‘The ministries are working on projections for the abolition of the decentralised county services reporting to each of them and for preserving them solely at the level of the capitals of the regions to be. There will be regional inspectorates or directorates. In the North-West region, for instance, the only left decentralised services will be in Cluj-Napoca. In the rest of the counties they will be terminated or will continue to operate as offices. This re-organisation will also bring an important staff reduction,’ parliamentary sources said, according to Mediafax. According to them, the offices or bureaus of some of the decentralised institutions in the counties of a future region will no longer need accounting, legal or HR department or secretaries for the directors.

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