Reducing VAT for food products, not featured on Government’s 2012 agenda.
Agriculture Minister Stelian Fuia removed yesterday from office the board of the National Management Authority for the Fisheries Operational Programme for failing to absorb a single cent of the total EUR 320 M-worth of EU funds at its disposal. He stated, during a press conference, that the new board of the respective authority would have to present by March 15 a plan for the absorption of European funds. “The absorption of European funds is not a game. The Agriculture Ministry has managed to absorb EUR 502 M so far. The absorption target for the first quarter is EUR 1bln and I am confident we will reach it,” the minister added.During the same conference, he stated that the reduction of VAT for food products was not featured on the government’s agenda for this year as there could be no discussion of a fiscal relaxation under the present economic circumstances. “We cannot on the one hand say we will reduce VAT and, on the other, promise we will raise wages or pensions. Therefore, a VAT reduction is not featured on the government’s agenda this year. We will address this matter depending on the future economic situation. Mr. Tabara also said it would be a good thing, but did not say how or when it should be done,” Stelian Fuia further argued.During the last conference as the Agriculture Minister, Valeriu Tabara stated that the VAT on food products should be reduced from 24 to less than 10 pc, which would result in bringing down food prices and reducing tax evasion. Furthermore, Stelian Fuia voiced his backing for the project to place a tax on uncultivated land. “We wish to ensure 1M hectares of arable land left to seed begin to be cultivated by introducing supplementary taxation. We are now drafting the bill and we will decide whether we wish to push it through as an emergency ordinance or as a law in Parliament,” Fuia stated. He added that he hoped he would be able to present the bill within the Cabinet in two weeks’ time.The minister also stated that several hundred hectares of greenhouses in counties Galati and Dolj had been damaged by the weather conditions in the past weeks. According to Fuia, 80 hectares-worth of greenhouses in Isalnita (Dolj), 250 hectares in Matca (Galati), as well as 30 hectares-worth of greenhouses across the country had been damaged by the recent blizzard and cold spell, which brought down the facilities.