MPs are expected to convene again over this issue because President Basescu announced that he will send the law back for reexamination.
The Parliament adopted yesterday the state budget and the social insurances’ budget for 2014, in the presence of Premier Victor Ponta and of the ministers. The state budget was adopted with 346 votes in favor, 49 against and 7 abstentions.
The draft budget was debated during a single day, the MPs working on Tuesday from noon to midnight. The PPDD MPs left the debates but took part in the voting. The PDL MPs voted against, MP Cezar Preda pointing out that PDL voted against because this is a budget “of tax dodgers,” “of the unreformed left wing” and of USL. “Mr. Prime Minister, the only thing you accomplished with this budget in front of Europe is that you can enter the book of world records; you have built a budget against the clock, in 20 hours you approved the budget of a large, responsible country that has to be a country with responsibilities within the EU, not a mendicant country that raises taxes and does not collect revenues. For this reason you will pay Mr. Prime Minister, irrespective of how many lies you will continue to tell the Romanians,” Preda said, being quoted by Mediafax. He added that next year’s budget “is a budget for USL and for the Union’s elections campaign.” “It’s a budget of those collecting social benefits, a budget of an unreformed left wing,” Preda added.
PNL Senator Calin Popescu Tariceanu also criticized the budget although he voted in favor, arguing that it is “a survival budget” that does not stir his enthusiasm, pointing out that there would have been other variants when it comes to constructing it, apart from hiking the fuel excise.
PM Ponta: One man in Romania is standing aside from the other 20 million
Premier Victor Ponta stated after the state budget law was approved that another plenary meeting could take place on this issue considering the President’s intention to send the law back to Parliament. “Unfortunately I believe we will meet again. However this is not my desire, obviously, but there is a man in Romania who is standing aside from the other 20 million. He has the right to stop the promulgation of the budget. I want to ask you once again to meet again in this formula, (…) let’s try to make sure that every Romanian, every pensioner, every teacher or doctor will be able to benefit from what is the work of every Romanian starting on January 1,” the Premier stated in Parliament. At the same time, PM Ponta stated that the pensions and salaries will be hiked on January 1 only if the President promulgates the social insurances’ budget law and sends back to Parliament solely the 2014 budget. President Traian Basescu announced that he will reject the budget law and will send it back to Parliament and he is considering notifying the Constitutional Court afterwards. The Head of State held talks on this issue with PM Victor Ponta on Tuesday at the Cotroceni Palace, the meeting being also attended by ministers Chitoiu and Voinea, and by BNR Governor Mugur Isarescu. The talks however changed nothing. The Premier stated at the end of the talks that the President told him that he will send the law back to Parliament. In these circumstances, he asked the President to speed up the procedures as much as possible in order for Romania to have a budget on January 1. On the other hand, the President stated at a press conference that Premier Ponta’s point of view on the introduction of the fuel excise remained unchanged and as a consequence he will send the budget back to Parliament. “He claimed that he will introduce this excise, this extra fuel tax. Of course, I too notified him that I will uphold my point of view through legal constitutional means. Meaning I will send the budget back to Parliament,” Basescu stated.
President Traian Basescu told the government on several occasions that it has sufficient funds so that it should not burden Romanians with new taxes, accusing the government headed by Victor Ponta of not accurately presenting the sums it will collect next year and of “stashing away” within the budget funds for electoral purposes. According to an article published by ‘Evenimentul Zilei,’ the government can state that the funds collected to the budget from certain taxes are smaller than they really are, and that the unreported sums are money that the government officials can use for their own interests. Moreover, the aforementioned daily claims that large budget funds are earmarked for expenditures that will not be made. The sources of revenues that hike to over RON 5 bln (EUR 1 bln) the funds that the government can use as it pleases include the gasoline excise, the pole tax, the CAS and the reallocation throughout the year of the sums that were not spent by mayoralties.
The state budget for 2014 provides for total revenues of RON 100.93 bln, higher by 4.8 percent compared with 2013, total expenses of RON 119.25 bln, higher by 3.41 percent compared with last year and a deficit of RON 18.32 bln. Tax revenues are put at RON 85.72 bln, up 6.7 percent compared with the updated programme for 2013, out of which the profit tax represents RON 11.345 bln, higher by 5.31 percent compared with last year, the individual income tax – RON 23.73 bln, up 5.07 percent, VAT – RON 54.62 bln, up 3.43 percent, excise tax – RON 22.87 bln, up 15.74 percent. Personnel costs amount to RON 20.57 bln, higher by 3.89 percent compared with last year’s figure, spending on goods and services will decrease by 0.57 percent down to RON 4.46 bln, interest payments will be 5.41 percent higher, up to RON 10.2 bln and subsidies will account for RON 4.13 bln, higher by 19.98 percent compared with last year.
Women and men to retire at 65
The Government raised the standard retirement age at 65, both for men and for women, reads a release of the Executive sent to Agerpres. The modification of the law regarding the single public service pension scheme follows a recommendation from the European Commission. Leveling the retirement age for men and for women ‘will be done gradually over 2030-2035, as the women who are now active reach their retirement age’. The draft law, initiated by the Ministry of Labour and approved by the Executive, stipulates that for the women who were born after 1970 the retirement age will be at 65, starting with the year 2035.
Moreover, the minim contribution stage grows from 13 years, at it is now, up to 15 years, both for women and for men.
Deputies’ Chamber Speaker Valeriu Zgonea on Wednesday said that if President Traian Basescu doesn’t promulgate the law of the state budget, Parliament would convene to re-discuss the draft law on December 28.