POLITICS

2014 budget approved by special commissions



PM Ponta: “Basescu’s announcement on blocking the budget would affect pension indexing.”
The ministries’ and public institutions’ budgets were approved at the end of last week within the special Parliamentary commissions, and will enter the Parliament’s joint plenum probably after December 1. Last week Lower Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea stated that he hopes Parliament will give its final vote on the draft 2014 budget, pointing out that this would be a first for Parliament.
Prime Minister Victor Ponta stated on Friday that if President Traian Basescu blocks the 2014 national budget the effects will be felt by the citizens. “I have taken note of the President’s intention to block the passage of the budget. I would very much like for the announcement to be just politicking,” Ponta told a press conference at the Victoria Palace. Ponta mentioned what he said would be the effects of any delay in the passage of the 2014 national budget, arguing that pension indexing would not be possible, scholarships to resident physicians would not be there and the guaranteed minimum wage would not be increased.
PM Ponta also said there will be a major risk of disruption in agreements with the IMF, European Commission and the World Bank, if the President refuses to promulgate the 2014 budget law. “This is a very serious matter since, if we don’t have the budget, we won’t be able to increase the level of co-financing of EU funds. And this is imperative if we want to use all the programs that we managed to unblock. The national contribution for 2014 represents 5.5 billion lei and, obviously, such a situation (when the head of state refuses to promulgate the budget law) will result in the disengagement of significant amounts. We won’t be able to start our investment objectives. The Comarnic-Brasov and the Suplacu de Barcau-Bors motorways are the most important as a share in the next year’s budget. And this happens in the context in which, of course, the entire budget was previously agreed with the representatives of the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank”, said Ponta. And last but not least, the head of government pointed out, Romania will not be able to reach “that top-up of 10 per cent that would have resulted in a decrease in the co-financing by Romania from 15 down to 5 per cent.”
In his turn, Deputy Prime Minister Liviu Dragnea stated on Friday that the level of budget revenues rose lately considering that the National Antifraud Agency has started to enforce a better levying of taxes. “Let’s hope that the high level of revenues seen lately will be maintained this year and next year too,” Dragnea said, being quoted by Mediafax.
The Parliament’s special commissions approved the ministries’ and institutions’ budgets on Friday. The budgets of the Health Ministry (RON 7.8 bln) and of the National Social Insurance House (RON 22.5 bln) were given green lights on Friday, with two amendments, one of them concerning a RON 40 M hike in the sum earmarked for dentistry. The Parliament’s Commissions for Agriculture approved the Agriculture Ministry’s budget with a majority of votes, adopting an amendment concerning the hiking by RON 26,877,000 of the sums earmarked for the 10,000 farmers that were forced to pay back the subsidies they received in 2007-2010. The joint commissions for industries and services approved the Transportation Ministry’s RON 6.4 bln budget with a single amendment introduced for the financing of the Iasi – Targu Mures highway.
The Interior Ministry’s budget was approved at RON 8.3 bln, down from RON 8.7 bln in 2013, while the Ministry of Defence’s budget was hiked from RON 6.2 bln this year to RON 6.8 bln. The Culture Ministry’s 2014 budget was approved at RON 562.5 M, the Parliament’s commissions for culture also approving an amendment on hiking that sum by RON 2.85 M, the money being taken from the Presidency, the Constitutional Court and ANI.
The Foreign Intelligence Service’s (SIE) budget was approved and is 0.53 per cent smaller than last year, Head of SIE Teodor Melescanu stating that the cut affects the financing of employees and the recruitment of personnel.

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