Decentralization will definitively break Romania away from its centralist communist past, despite “the short-sighted thinking of Basescu’s propaganda”, Ponta told the lawmakers.
The government asked Parliament for a vote of confidence on Tuesday for the draft law on decentralization, during the plenary session of the Parliament.
At the start of the session Premier Victor Ponta gave a speech in which he pointed out that decentralization will confer more authority to local representatives and will definitively break Romania away from its centralist communist past, despite “the short-sighted thinking of Basescu’s propaganda,” adding that when it comes to the transfer of prerogatives the fight was waged against “armies of public servants” from the ministries.
He said that after 1989 all parties expressed their position in favour of a decentralization that confers more authority to local representatives, something which is specific to modern states, and that is why he does not understand the petty politics opposition shown by PDL, a party previously dubbed “the party of mayors” but now seen as “the party of anti-mayors.”
In the Premier’s view, the process of decentralization ‘definitively breaks Romania away from its past as a centralized communist state’. “There was great reticence towards the decentralization idea, reserve stemming from the ministries’ bureaucratic apparatus. There were important battles with armies of public servants from ministries, public servants who obviously do not want to cede anything from the prerogatives they have,” Ponta said. He added that “Basescu’s propaganda” which insists on local representatives not receiving more prerogatives represents “communist and short-sighted” thinking that cannot be accepted.
The Premier explained that he resorted to the assumption of responsibility on this draft law because “unfortunately we have far too many important projects, such as the referendum law, and the President’s sabotage appeared every time.” In his opinion, as a result of this draft law Romanians will benefit from public services that are much closer to the citizen, from a saving of financial resources, less red tape and less corruption.
“(…) I want to see mayors and county council president that blame the government as rarely as possible,” Ponta added. The Premier announced that he will ask the ministers to verify which of the ministries’ public servants did not want to help identify the buildings for which administrative prerogatives will be ceded locally, pointing out that many “apparently unintentional” mistakes took place when devising the draft law. The Premier pointed out that measures will be taken as a result of this analysis, because the functioning of ministries and of central authorities is concerned.
PDL snubbed Ponta
Mircea Toader, the leader of PDL MPs within the Lower Chamber, announced that the PDL MPs will not take part in the joint meeting of the Lower Chamber and the Senate, in order to prove that a real debate on this law is needed. “We consider that we have a law that should enter Parliamentary debate. A debate in Parliament would have been much more useful. (…) We want this debate and we are not attending the presentation of the assumption of responsibility because we want to have a real debate and we will have it because we have prepared a motion,” Toader pointed out.
Prior to that, UDMR had announced that it would not sign a possible censure motion initiated by PDL after the government asked for the confidence vote and would not back a possible PDL attempt to attack the decentralization law at the Constitutional Court. The announcement sparked the Democrat-Liberals’ ire. PDL Vice President Cezar Preda accused UDMR of having “a covert agreement with Ponta’s and Dragnea’s PSD, so that the country would be federalized through decentralization.” He believes that the Liberals “sold themselves out cheaply,” and UDMR “has attained its goal without modifying the Constitution, obtaining collective rights and segregation based on ethnic criteria.” In reply, UDMR President Kelemen Hunor rejected Preda’s statements, stating that he “is talking nonsense” and making “unreasonable” accusations.
Over 2,000 amendments submitted, 568 adopted
The Government in the extraordinary meeting on Tuesday approved the draft law on decentralisation with 568 amendments out of the 2,040 filed by parliamentarians, Government Spokesman Mirel Palada told Agerpres. ‘Most adopted amendments were related with the annex. Minor corrections and clarifications of some texts were brought,’ the Government Spokesman pointed out.
According to the Department for Communication and Public Relations of the lower House, the amendments were submitted by the MPs of the Social Democratic Party (PSD, at rule), the Democratic Union of Hungarians in Romania (UDMR, in opposition), the National Liberal Party (PNL, co-ruling), the Conservative Party (PC, ruling) and the People’s Party – Dan Diaconescu (PP-DD, in opposition).
The draft law on decentralisation brings amendments in areas such as health, agriculture, environment, pre-university education, culture, youth and sports, as well as tourism, which are going to pass from under the coordination of the relevant ministries under the coordination of the local authorities.