Debates on the public budget bill started yesterday in the Parliament’s joint assembly, with the final vote scheduled for Thursday.
By Daniela Baragan
Premier Emil Boc said yesterday, while introducing the State Budget for 2012 to the joint plenum of the two houses of the Parliament, that salaries and pensions will be kept at least at their current level next year, same as the flat tax and VAT. “We come with a budget that is responsible, mainly for the country. In these two years, with their suffering, Romanians were able to help us reach a macro-economic stability and move from decline to economic growth. The path is one of responsibility and reason. We had 4 consecutive quarters of economic growth. I can assure you that we are on schedule with the economic growth between 1.5 and 2 pc, and also will meet the deficit target of 4.4 pc,” Boc said, quoted by realitatea.net.
In the same context, he added that Romania was able to get out of recession “as a first step of moving past the crisis,” as our country has a zero-deficit prospect for year 2013, “precisely what the European Union proposes.” “It is important not to compromise these achievements. We start with a growth of 2.1 pc and a deficit of 1.9 pc. (…) The uncertainties that surround us make us prudent,” the premier said, adding that the decisions made at the end of last week, at the Brussels summit, were “highly realistic and precise.”
According to the PM, structural reforms generate more cash for investments. Boc also complained about the problems inherited from the past, saying that it would have been normal to have budget surplus, rather than deficit in 2008. Furthermore, he mentioned that only 5 km of motorway were built in 2008, so the opposition has no reason to blame the acting government for its performance
On the othet hand, the members of the Parliament’s joint budget-finance committees met yesterday a delegation of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) right before the two Chambers’ joint assembly embarked on a debate of the 2012 public budget and social security bills. During debates, IMF representatives voiced their interest in the high number of amendments the opposition filed to the 2012 public budget bill and in the possibility that funding be allotted to particular projects rather than to ministries.
“We explained to them that, given the introduction of the single vote, each MP wants to do something for the college he/she represents, which partly accounts for the large number of amendments filed to the present budget bill,” Maria Barna, chair of the Lower Chamber’s budget committee, stated, quoted by HotNews.
As regards the proposal of allotting funds portioned per project rather than in bulk to a ministry, Barna told the IMF delegation that this method, applied in France also, aimed at ensuring “an effective funding, based on clearly-cut criteria”. “The possibility of applying this method is to be further discussed,” she added. According to Maria Barna, the IMF voiced its openness to provide consultancy to the Public Finance Ministry in 2012 with a view to initiating such a project. Representatives of the opposition decided to boycott yesterday’s meeting at the Palace of Parliament.
Ponta: ruling power MPs paid eur 100,000 to vote in favour of budget
The Social Democratic Party (PSD) president Victor Ponta announced yesterday in a press conference that the Social-Liberal Union (USL) would file a complaint against the prime-minister Emil Boc for bribe-giving and, respectively, against the ruling power MPs for bribe-taking, on the grounds that the latter would be paid EUR 100,000 to vote in favour of the 2012 budget bill. “We will keep track of the amendments to the budget bill, if any, if not – of the Government Resolutions issued subsequently by Emil Boc out of the reserve fund and we will file a criminal suit for bribe-giving and bribe-taking against all the MPs who sell their vote on the budget bill in exchange for EUR 100,000,” Ponta stated, quoted by Mediafax.
“Adevarul” reported, in its yesterday edition, that the prime-minister Emil Boc was trying to secure the adoption of next year’s budget bill by buying the loyalty of senators and deputies belonging to the ruling coalition. According to the same source, for the project to be adopted as speedily as possible and in the form favoured by the Executive, MPs representing the Democratic-Liberal Party (PDL), the National Union for Romanian Progress (UNPR) and the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR) would be rewarded out of the public purse. More explicitly, each ruling power MP will have the right to file amendments worth a total RON 400,000, the equivalent of EUR 100,000. The money is to go to the colleges in which the respective MPs were elected. Most of the Democrat-Liberal MPs have already drafted amendments which concern the building or completion of churches, hospitals or infrastructure works. The practice is far from new – indeed, it has been used systematically by the ruling coalition, according to “Adevarul”.