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March 29, 2023

Gov’t Okays privatisation contract of CFR Marfa

PM Ponta accused President Basescu of not having observed the cohabitation pact
and delivers “summertime” political statements.

The Executive approved the contract for the privatisation of CRF Marfa
PM Victor Ponta announced on Wednesday after the weekly meeting of the cabinet. The document will now be submitted to the Supreme Security Council (CSAT) for the final go-ahead, and Ponta explained that the document will also be sent to CSAT so President Traian Basescu has the possibility to stop the government “from making a mistake.”
“We adopted, in conformity with the Law on privatisation, the Government Decision (…) It was a commitment assumed in relation with the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission, undertaken before the Government I head, by President Basescu. We obtained the preliminary opinion and this Government Decision is to be submitted to the CSAT to be endorsed,” Ponta said, adding that, if there are things likely to affect the privatization process, they should be discussed in the CSAT meeting.
“We will send this government decision, in accordance with the opinion provided by the Ministry of Justice, to CSAT for approval. If there are things that can seriously affect the privatisation process, the CSAT – whose meeting I attend – obviously is led by the president – is the public institution where these elements we do not know can be raised, if not it means that we press on with the privatisation. Prime time statements are useless, without even a political value, even less a legal one, and Romania keeps the commitments made by the former government and the former and acting president of Romania, which were enacted by the government I lead,” Ponta added.
The premier also mentioned that, after receiving clearance from the CSAT, the contract will be probably signed in September and the privatisation procedure will be completed within 60 days. Asked about why the CSAT must approve the sale, if the privatisation of CFR Marfa was already approved, PM Ponta said that it is a ‘strategic company.’
“There is also a Ministry of Defence point of view in this sense because, if CSAT gave its approval at the start of the procedure, in line with the CSAT Law, now before the signing I am absolutely convinced it will do the same thing, or, if there are new elements we do not know, I haven’t sifted through Mr. Stoica’s bank accounts (Guria Stoica, the winner of the CFR Marfa privatization), that is what the President does, it would good for us to be informed officially, not on TV,” Ponta added.
The Premier gave a long answer to President Basescu’s recent accusations concerning the privatization of CFR Marfa, pointing out that he continues to ignore and treat with indifference and humor the Head of State’s “outbursts,” pointing out that the ego provoked by the loss of power concerns the President alone.
“An institutional collaboration between the Government and the Presidency should have at its base the public interest, not personal, demagogical interests generated by the launch of a party,” Ponta said. He also pointed out that the President made demagogical statements similar to the ones made early this week last October too, statements that were however taxed by the population during the December elections.
“The government’s decision is to ignore President Basescu’s political statements, summer-time statements,” Ponta concluded. Asked whether the cohabitation agreement with the President remains in force, the Head of Government pointed out that he plans to respect the agreement because Romania needs political stability and economic growth: “That institutional collaboration agreement, in what concerns me, I’m very determined to respect my obligations. From the President’s point of view it’s very clear he isn’t, he no longer respected it and this wouldn’t be the first nor the last time he fails to respect his promise,” Ponta said.
The Government decision was referring to the main points of the contract that is to be signed by the Ministry of Transportation and Romanian Railway Group (GFR) for the transfer of 51% of the CFR Marfa capital. GFR, part of the Grampet Group, controlled by the businessman Gruia Stoica, was declared June 20 the winner in the privatization process concerning CFR Marfa. They offered EUR 202 M for the 51% package and assumed investments of 900 million lei plus EUR 1.5 M environmental investments. Stoica said a few days ago that he will be able to make the payments under the agreed conditions, as he has a solid, debtless company. His declaration comes in the context of President Basescu saying, at the beginning of the week, that Gruia’s company does not have the necessary sums to pay the agreed amount of money and that he is trying to borrow from the banks, asking how the company will ever be able to produce the amount necessary for the modernization of CFR Marfa. The President accused the Government of “intoxicating and lying the public” when they say that the approval of the Competition Council is needed before signing the CFR Marfa privatization contract. At the same time, Basescu asked Prime Minister Ponta to take, as acting Minister for Transportation, the political responsibility for this privatization.
Abolition of positions, not layoffs
During the yesterday meeting, the Government adopted a series of resolutions aimed at abolishing the vacant positions in the Ministries that have already finished the restructuring process. Yet, Prime Minister Victor Ponta emphasized that the Government would not lay off tens of thousands of state employees, but will cut off the 60,000 vacancies, without affecting the health system and education.
”I want to ask all of you to communicate very clearly, because I have seen [people saying] that we lay off tens of thousands of people today. We do not lay off tens of thousands of people. We cut off the 60,000 vacancies, which generally meant more leading positions. We do not touch the vacancies in health and education, as I have said, but this way we are going to the one-to-one hiring rule,” the Prime Minister said, in the beginning of the Government meeting.
Ponta had announced on June 26 that approximately 60,000 vacancies in the public system would be cut off, saying two weeks ago that approximately 2,800 state employees would leave the administration.
The government also adopted in yesterday’s meeting an ordinance and a draft resolution providing the settlement from the state budget of the financial corrections arising from the irregularities found with POS Environment until July 2012, Ponta explaining that RON 100 M is involved. More than one week ago, the government adopted an ordinance regulating specific tax and budget measures aimed at covering from the state budget the financial corrections resulted from non-compliance with public procurement legislation.
Eight regional offices of the Fiscal Authority
The Government approved yesterday the opening of the eight offices of the Regional Fiscal Directorates, as well as the regional officers for the Anti-fraud Directorate of ANAF. “All the eight offices of the regional public finances and anti-fraud directorates have been approved. The principle was that of having the Regional Fiscal Administration in the largest town, the one with the greatest number of taxpayers”, Prime Minister Victor Ponta said. Such offices will be opened in Cluj, Brasov, Timisoara, Craiova, Iasi, Ploiesti and Bucharest.
The employees of the Fiscal Authority in Timisoara, who have protested for days against a possible moving of the office to Deva, have no reason to be afraid now. Ponta also said that the Anti-fraud Directorates were opened in the cities that have activities specific for a border region, like Constanta, Suceava or Oradea.

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