In such circumstances, the Romanian President has signed the 2014 state social security budget into law.
The move announced by the Government, of temporarily renouncing the enforcement of the excise duty on the diesel price sets the conditions in place for the continuation of talks, said President Traian Basescu on Monday in a statement at the Cotroceni Palace.
“I’ve taken note of the Prime Minister’s statement and the announcement made prior to that statement regarding his willingness to temporarily postpone the Diesel fuel excise tax. Of course, I’m not completely satisfied with it, but it proves we can maintain a dialogue. I am open to showing the Government there are solutions to build the budget without introducing an excise tax for gasoline or Diesel fuel in the coming year, not only in the coming three months,” President Basescu stated.
He underlined he does not believe in introducing this excise tax, which he sees as a means to create electoral resources.
“I will continue to have discussions with the Prime Minister and I’m very glad the first step toward opening a dialog has been taken because if everyone stands their ground – me, on the one side, and the Prime Minister, on the other – it won’t lead to anything. Maybe we’ll find reasonable solutions to Romania’s economic problems,” President Traian Basescu said further. He explained he received the budget on Monday, 11.00 a.m., which gives him a 20-day window to make a decision. On his reasons for challenging the State Budget in the Constitutional Court, the President said he has been focusing on promulgating the Insurance Budget, upon a quick analysis.
“I can’t say if there is cause to challenge it in the Constitutional Court. You must take into account that the Budget could half-fill a van. There are many documents to be analyzed, but the key to getting a clearer picture of the budget are the annexes. We must assess the degree of transparency. So far, I have my first institutional means – to send it back to the Parliament, regardless of what I will discover subsequently,” President Basescu pointed out. The Head of State explained he would also notify the Parliament on non-constitutional aspects, which can be corrected by the legislative before the budget is challenged in the Constitutional Court.
According to the President, the starting point in future discussions will be the Prime Minister’s point of view. “We will see what conclusions we reach in order to ensure sustainable economic growth and maintain the Romanian economy’s competitiveness, not to collect the necessary number of votes, which I, at least, don’t need anymore.”
“I understand Mr. Voinea went to Brussels for discussions. I don’t know why he went. When I decided not to approve the Fund (editor’s note – IMF) letter, I informed European Commissioner Olli Rehn. I’m even more surprised, since Romania has met the obligations stipulated in the Treaty. For this reason, backed by institutional arguments and restrictions, I am opposed to increasing the gasoline and Diesel fuel excise tax,” Basescu added.
After informing President Traian Basescu on the Executive’s intention to postpone the introduction of the fuel excise tax, Prime Minister Victor Ponta stated that if the economy allowed it, he would not go through with this measure. When asked what he thinks of the President’s proposal to postpone the introduction of the fuel excise tax until July 1, 2014, the Prime Minister replied, “When you’re not worried about everyday payments, you can propose anything.”
He continued by saying he is not planning on reducing the Ministry of Development budget, as it was suggested by the Head of State, and he emphasized the money is aimed at schools, hospitals, county and local roads, and the sewerage system.
EC: We are prepared to analyze alternative proposals
The European Commission has announced it is willing to analyze other alternatives to the additional excise tax of 7 eurocents/liter proposed by the Romanian Government that must, nonetheless, have the same budgetary impact, EC sources stated late Monday for Agerpres. “We hope Romania reaches a consensus as soon as possible. We are prepared to analyze alternative proposals that are aimed at supporting economic growth and have a similar budget impact and quality as the initially agreed-upon measures,” the cited sources said.
“It was never my intention to stop the State Social Insurances’ Budget”
President Traian Basescu also announced he has promulgated the 2014 State Social Insurances’ Budget. “There are still some reserves, but it may not be a bad thing to have small reserves on the Social Insurances’ Budget,” Basescu stated. Those who had predicted it would not be impossible to pay pensions and social benefits proved to be mere “propagandists,” he added. “It was never my intention to stop this budget,” the Head of State stated further. However, he has said repeatedly he would reject the Budget if the draft included measures to increase the fuel excise tax.
In addition, the President announced he has sent the law on approving GEO 58/2013 regarding the organizational structure of the Agriculture, Forestry, and Rural Development Chambers back into Parliament, underlining that this legislative act is designed to politicize the Agricultural Chambers. “Farmers need to be able to breathe without the influence of politics,” Traian Basescu emphasized.
Road carriers continue to protest
Road carriers have not given up protesting, despite the Government’s announcement that the 7 eurocents/liter of Diesel fuel would not take effect for the time being. Protesters in Timis, among others, have refused to work their routes, deciding to keep the freight products in garages. They claim they will not take the goods into warehouses sooner than Wednesday, when meetings between road carrier and the Ministry Delegate and Ministry of Finance representatives is scheduled to take place, digi24.ro informs. If negotiations fail, people will go on the road in trucks. Road carriers in Arad have said the Prime Minister’s announcement was a step in the right direction, but their list of claims is longer, so they will continue to protest.