The deputies and senators rejected all the amendments submitted by the opposition and only accepted two filed by the Budget and Finance Committees, concerned with the redistribution of sums. The opposition’s amendments to the draft budget law requested additional funding in various categories, cuts of financing for the procurement of goods and services in exchange for raising pensions or a minimum wage of RON 800. The MPs in the opposition criticised article 42, claiming it was hiding the intention to lay off 150,000 public sector employees, something Finance Minister Gheorghe Ialomitianu denied. Article 42 stipulates that main paying authorities must disclose to the Ministry of Finance a detailed account of the maximum number of positions – broken down into structures and functions – financed under the law and of the average 2012 basic salary.
PSD MPs Stefan Viorel and Aura Vasile rebuked the government over the fact that its contingency fund was actually the ‘piggy bank’ of PDL and of the coalition parties through which the money is drained out of the state budget. They also denounced the fact that the chapter on the procurement of goods and services includes money for the purchase of state-of-the-art smoke detectors and office equipment. Among the opposition’s amendments rejected in parliament yesterday there was one introduced by former ANAF head Daniel Chitoiu (PNL), exempting journalists and other liberal professionals from the payment of VAT on royalties.
Monday night, the meeting was adjourned until yesterday morning because the required number of MPs was not met. The opposition had asked for a roll call, arguing the quorum requirement was no longer met, but Vasile Blaga, who was chairing the session, said the quorum was fulfilled thanks to the presence of the deputies, without indicating the exact number of attending MPs.
Money redistributed to local budgets
One of the amendments adopted yesterday was the one redistributing sums upon the allocation of the broken-down VAT quotas to local budgets, according to which RON 2,021.4 M will finance decentralised expenditure at a county level and RON 8,976.2 M will be disbursed to communes, towns and cities. Initially, the draft version of the government stipulated RON 2,021.3 M for counties and RON 8,976.3 M for communes, towns and cities.
Monday night, on B1 TV, PM Emil Boc tried to explain the bigger funds awarded to PDL municipalities to the detriment of those led by representatives of the opposition, showing that the Democrat-Liberal municipalities do not receive money from the county councils headed by PSD and PNL, which practically forces them to ask the government for help. ‘This invisible part lying under the table is not seen,’ Boc said for B1 TV. The prime-minister also justified the bigger budget of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), explaining that it needs the money to complete investment projects and to pay security officers used on air line flights.
A survey presented by the Institute for Public Policies last June in fact showed that over 70 per cent of the mayors who had obtained money from the Government’s contingency fund in 2009 were from PDL. On the other hand, the Government has always claimed that the funds had never been allocated based on political criteria, but in keeping with the stage of investment projects under implementation.
‘Gandul’: EUR 6.69 M for expenditures on ‘protocol and representation’ in 2012
According to ‘Gandul’ online daily, public institutions will have at their disposal next year EUR 6.69 M for ‘protocol and representation’ expenditures, up by 44 per cent compared to this year when protocol expenditures totaled EUR 4.63 M. The daily came up with this figure (EUR 6.69 M – editor’s note) by analyzing the draft budgets of 50 main institutions. The ‘protocol and representation’ expenditures include expenditures on festive dinners, cocktails, coffee, water, sodas and other treats, gifts for foreign delegations, lodging of foreign delegations, flags, wreaths, flowers, translations and publications. In this context, the aforementioned source underlines that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Environment and Forests are “champions” when it comes to protocol budgets (EUR 1.76 M in what concerns MAE, and EUR 1.38 M in what concerns MMP – editor’s note). The highest hike in the budget earmarked for protocol in 2012 compared to 2011 was registered in the case of MMP (5,000 per cent hike to EUR 1.38 M), the budget being earmarked in order to organize in Bucharest the 11th edition of an international conference on aquatic birds.