POLITICS

Insolvency Code, new bone of contention between Cotroceni and Victoria Palace




President Basescu accuses PM Ponta that he wants to take control over the audiovisual.
The premier accuses the president of hypocrisy.

A new dispute was born between premier and president over the Emergency Ordinance 91/2013 on insolvency prevention procedures. Monday evening, in his address delivered at the Cotroceni Palace, President Traian Basescu said that the ordinance also comprises a discriminatory article that regulates exclusively the audiovisual media. The head of state mentioned that, under article 16 of the Constitution, citizens are equal before the law, without exceptions and discrimination, and the employees of these TV and radio stations are citizens. “Discontinuing the broadcast immediately after the start of the insolvency procedure and before the validation of the reorganisation plan only brings the entities of the audiovisual in a state of bankruptcy,” the president stated, adding that all these institutions live out of advertising.
He explained that TV and radio channels are subject to discriminatory treatment, which entitles him to say that, “unlike Adrian Nastase, who was paying the press, Victor Ponta is equally decided to place the audio-visual under control, but he does it more cynically and brutally.” “He has no explanation about why he enforces a discriminatory regime upon TV and radio channels,” the president said, adding that he does not want to pose into “someone who makes embraces with radio stations and televisions,” because he had many conflicts with the press, more than any politician. “Anyone of us can get angry and have an argument with a television, they speak and he speaks. Very well, but you don’t shut it down. Leave it where it is, because it will return to normal, you will return to normal, someone will eventually return to normal,” the president added.
Basescu came with a hypothesis of his own, saying that the audiovisual-related provisions of the ordinance on insolvency actually target TVR, the public television. “I fear that tomorrow, or the day after, we learn that it is insolvent, cannot pay, and someone (…) perhaps will come with cash. And, with someone like Voiculescu or someone like Ghita around – people who seem to make enough money from contracts with the state – we find out that, following an insolvency lawsuit, (…) the saviours Ghita and Voiculescu will come. I do not say that things will happen this way, but it is a scenario we can imagine,” he said.
The emergency ordinance on insolvency prevention procedures and on the process of insolvency provides, at article 81, that “if the debtor’s operations fall under the incidence of the provisions of the Law of the audiovisual, as a consequence of start of the procedure, until the date when the reorganisation plan is confirmed, the audiovisual license is suspended beginning with the date when the National Council of the Audiovisual receives the notification.” Prime minister Victor Ponta promptly reacted on Antena 3, where he said Monday night that President Traian Basescu set a new record of hypocrisy with his statements on the effects the ordinance on insolvency will have upon the media, after lashing out at “moguls” during the 2009 campaign. “With this, Basescu really beat all his records of hypocrisy, the tearful crocodile. I know that Basescu fought against moguls in the campaign of 2009,” Ponta stated. He added that, for the last three years, various companies went insolvent with debts worth EUR 2.5 bln in total, of which the state recovered only a little part, and reiterated that for companies must pay the health, unemployment and pension contributions for each of their employees.
According to Realitatea TV, the premier was dishonest with the IMF regarding the Insolvency Code, which he promised to pass through the Parliament, although it was eventually modified through Emergency Ordinance. “We will rapidly implement the recommendations of the World Bank and, following public consultations held in September 2013, also with the IMF, the European Commission and the World Bank, we will send the amendments to the Insolvency Code in Parliament by the end of October 2013. All involved parties will be consulted before the adoption of the Insolvency Code in Parliament,” reads the letter of intent with the IMF.
PDL notifies the Ombudsman
The Democratic Liberal Party promptly acted in the spirit of the criticism voiced by the head of state and notified yesterday the Ombudsman, whom it demanded to raise an exception of non-constitutionality to the ordinance on insolvency. “We consider that suspending an audiovisual license on grounds of its holder’s insolvency is against the last obligation of the government, which results from guaranteeing a fundamental right of citizens, which is guaranteed by the Constitution. In order to comply with the provisions of the Constitution, the insolvency procedure must only refer to the economic-financial activity of the debtor, not its activity that represents the right to free speech and information,” the democrat-liberals stated.
The Ombudsman answered that PDL’s notification would be analysed on Friday, after consulting all those involved in the Code’s drafting, in order to assess the legislator’s intention.
On the other hand, the Superior Council of Magistracy asked yesterday the Justice Ministry to delay the enforcement of the Insolvency Code until February 1, 2014. “I hope the Government to think over this request”, CSM judge Horatiu Dumbrava said, quoted by Realitatea TV.

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