The Opposition have submitted over 8000 amendments. The plenum will vote on December 12.
By Daniela Baragan
The 2012 state draft budget reached the specialised legislative commission yesterday, with the bulk of ministerial and public institution budgets being approved in the form submitted by Government. The budget of the Ministry of Administration and Interior (MAI), of RON 7.29 bln, down 11.39 pc from 2011, was among the ministerial budgets given favourable recommendation. The Opposition says that a MAI budget of 1,24 pc GDP would only suffice for the first half of next year, to which Interior Minister Traian Igas replied that, while the ministry budget for 2012 should take into account the current economic constraints, it would nonetheless allow for activities to be carried out in proper fashion.
The commissions also passed the budget of the Ministry of Tourism and Regional Development (MDRT), with only five commission members voting against. Minister Elena Udrea, who attended the hearings, again said that the ministry budget for next year “does not even cover the financings begun”. The RON 3.45 bln MDRT budget ranks 8th in the budget rankings. The bulk of investments is made via local authorities, so that we couldn’t be accused of being biased,” Mediafax quoted Udrea as saying. We remind our readers that the MDRT had originally been apportioned RON 3.1 bln, down from RON 3.4 bln this year. However, late last month, Government decided to revise up the MDRT budget, to RON 3.45 bln.
The budget of the Ministry of National Defence (MApN) and that of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) also passed without amendments. According to Defence State Secretary Vasile Ozunu, the MApN budget matches RON 7.57 bln, or EUR 1.78 bln, “a budget larger than last year’s nearly EUR 60 M”. The money will be used for the purchase of multi-role aircraft and two Spartan planes. The MAE budget passed 9-8, with Minister Teodor Baconschi saying that, although the budget is up 20 pc from that in 2011, it nonetheless only accounts for 0.0048 pc GDP. The specialised commission also gave their nod to the budgets of the Ministry of Agriculture, Justice, the Superior Council of Magistracy and the High Court of Cassation and Justice <Romania’s Supreme Court>. Opposition amendments have been rejected in those cases too. Referring to the Social-Liberal Union (USL) proposal that the Value Added Tax should be cut to 9 pc for all agricultural products, Agriculture Minister Gheorghe Ialomiteanu said it would bear a ‘total” impact of RON 11.7 bln on the budget. “If the USL wants us to abide by the EU legislation, then, we would jeopardise a string of expenditures financed by the VAT – teacher salaries and others. It means the USL urges us to cut teacher salaries and school spending. This would mean to shut down mayoralties and not pay teachers,” HotNews cited Ialomiteanu as saying.
The power and the opposition also clashed in the Education committees of the Parliament, over the budget of the Education Ministry. While Education Minister Daniel Funeriu admitted that the budget allotted to his ministry is “tight,” but still secures the payment of salaries and welfare benefits, USL legislators retorted that the meager financing sentences Education to a setback, because it is the smallest budget in the last 20 years. According to realitatea.net, the opposition filed over 8,000 amendments to the draft budget for 2012, most of them addressing the Ministry of Development (2,900 amendments), the General Secretariat of the Government / SGG (1,640) and the Ministry of Education (1,100).
Power and opposition also confronted each other in the Culture committees of the Legislative, over the draft budgets of CNA, TVR, SRR, Agerpres, the Ministry of Culture and ICR. During an hour-long round of debates, the opposition criticised the disinterest (lack of quorum) of ruling coalition’s MPs for their own budget.
The committees also passed yesterday, with a majority of votes, the budgets of SGG and the Permanent Electoral Authority (AEP). In the case of the former, the proposed variant (over RON 700 M) means RON 250 M less than last year. In its turn, AEP will receive RON 15.3 M – a sum that does not include the expenses with the elections of 2012. On the other hand, the budget of the National Integrity Agency (ANI) was rejected by the committees, as USL – which voted against – also enjoyed the support of UDMR Deputy Mate Andras Levente, who is probed by ANI because he hired his wife at the Parliament, in his staff.
PSD will vote the state budget on certain conditions
PSD Senator Toni Grebla said Monday that USL will reject the draft state budget, if the government does not take into consideration the 10-15 fundamental amendments brought by the opposition. “We want the budget constraints, as well as the other measures aimed at economic growth, to give this country a chance, instead of tightening the belt each year. How long will this go on?” Grebla stated. According to the opposition senator, 2012 must be a year of economic recovery. “We cannot save money for the sake of saving money, we cannot punish the people of this country for the sake of ranging within a budget deficit of 1.9 pc,” he added.