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March 24, 2023

Basescu: Gov’t puts pressure in setting precedent for CSAT

The President points at PM Victor Ponta for aiming to get the council involved in CFR Marfa privatisation process.
The chaos around the privatization process of the Romanian Railways Company (CFR) Freight Division seems to never end. After convoking a meeting of the Romanian Supreme Defence Council (CSAT) on Friday in the absence of the Prime Minister Victor Ponta, yesterday President Traian Basescu held a press conference on this issue.
Basescu told the reporters at the presidential Cotroceni Palace that the Government put pressure on the CSAT by getting it involved in the privatisation of the CFR Freight Division.
“The Government put pressure in setting a precedent – the CSAT’s getting involved in privatisation processes. I think they had better put pressure on the winner to show the money. I fail to understand why they preferred to involve an institution with no tasks on this matter in a public debate, when the one who really had to do something was the declared winner, who had been praised a lot both by the former transport minister and by Prime Minister Victor Ponta, and who should have showed the money. They declared the privatisation tender to be a success and such success had to yield results. I find that some politicians end up by running away from success,” Basescu stressed.
Answering a question, the president said that he was upset by the absence of PM Victor Ponta from the CSAT meeting last Friday and also by the fact that the documents regarding the meeting of the Council were sent by the government after the premier had gone on holiday. He was asked if he tried to speak with Victor Ponta on the phone about the publishing of the HG referring to CFR Marfa by the Official Gazette.
“This is what I demanded Friday in the CSAT, the urgent publishing in the Official Gazette,” he mentioned. “Now you cannot ask me to look for the premier because he has a legality issue.
Maybe the nanny, but the nanny too is in Miami, so…” Basescu added.
He ruled out the possibility of summoning a new meeting of the CSAT about CFR Marfa. “It was a demand which I catered to. We cannot leave the state when the premier goes on holiday with the nanny to Miami. If he went to Neptun, we would have seen each other rapidly, but…” the president went on.
Basescu explained that he urgently called a meeting of the CSAT, knowing the timing of this project and the government’s commitment to finalise the process until the end of September, adding that he did this “especially as the only idea was to put it in the agenda.”
President Traian Basescu added that, if he were in charge of the privatisation of CFR Marfa, he would have decided long ago, commenting that “CFR Marfa does not go between palaces, it is parked at the Victoria Palace and the engine apparently has run out of fuel.”
“I would like to stress that in politics and in the highest offices of the state the best thing is to take responsibility, not run away from it. I am sorry that the press, seeing this stroll, reached the conclusion <> No, I cannot park it at Cotroceni, CFR Marfa … I have no depot. This belongs to the government and there is not CSAT attribution about approving privatisations. I assure you that if it were my responsibility, I would have long made the decisions,” Basescu stated in the press conference held at Cotroceni.
Basescu added that, if he were prime minister, he would speed the pace of procedures. “If I were prime minister I would speed up the pace of procedures to the maximum. Because either I have the chance of taking the EUR 202 M and I also have the opportunity to negotiate in the contract the observance of the conditions for modernising the company, which are in the strategy assumed by the government and I would impose a modernisation schedule, with the acquisition of new locomotives, new carriages, modern carriages. (…) Or, if the winner, GFR, that won the tender does not come with the money and does not accept the conditions of the privatisation strategy, the government is free to resume the privatisation procedure as it is stipulated by the draft agreement with the Fund,” he mentioned.
Basescu also added he was skeptical that businessman Gruia Stoica, the main shareholder of GRAMPET-Grup Feroviar Roman (the Romanian Railway Group GFR) will find the money to purchase the Romanian Railways Company (CFR) Freight Division.
“I am still sceptical he will find the money, but since the Government has been blocking the process, it will give Mr. Stoica all the reasons to say: Fellows, if you had signed my contract in the 60 days that would have been left, since he had 30 days to put 10.2 million and another 30 days to put the balance of 181 million, and no matter how hard he looks for, no bank will seriously consider him if he does not have the signed contract in his hands. Beyond the known fact that he allegedly has problems, the Government is creating the conditions for him to prove that there was no way he could have come up with the money, because he does not have the contract. This is the error that the Government, in my opinion, is making,” Basescu told reporters at the presidential Cotroceni Palace.
BNR governor commented on the issue of CFR Marfa, saying the privatisation process for such state companies is a solution to overcome a vicious circle, and should not be done only for the sake of finalising the process. “CFR Marfa should not register losses, especially the losses it registers now. I believe it could be better run by the management, although I admit I am not aware of the real economic situation of the company,’ Isarescu said.

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