POLITICS

Parliament called in extraordinary session over Fiscal Code on August 24-26

The leadership of the Social-Democrat Party, the main party of the ruling coalition, has decided on Monday to propose an extraordinary Parliamentary session on August 24-26, in order for Parliament to re-examine the Fiscal Code, sources quoted by Mediafax inform.

The Senate would discuss the re-examination of the Fiscal Code on August 24 and the Lower Chamber on August 25.

Victor Ponta had announced that Parliament will meet in extraordinary session, probably after August 15, in order to re-discuss the Fiscal Code that President Klaus Iohannis had sent back to Parliament.

Interim PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated  that ahead of the debates in Parliament the Finance Minister will have talks with all institutions, including the Central Bank, and will conduct an analysis that would better show the sustainability and justness of the measures included in the Fiscal Code.

He stated that he is preoccupied with BNR Governor Mugur Isarescu’s statements according to which the new Fiscal Code is inapplicable but he pointed out that there has been a lot of information in the public space, including the statement that Governor Isarescu does not oppose this Code, a statement made by the Governor’s advisor.

 

Liviu Dragnea chairs first PSD meeting as new party president

 

The first meeting since Liviu Dragnea became Interim PSD President took place on Monday at the Social Democrat Party’s (PSD) headquarters, after Dragnea asked Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici and Premier Victor Ponta to present to the party the budget correction they want to adopt during this week’s Government meeting. PSD’s Permanent National Bureau (BPN) decided to ask for the convening of Parliament in a special session on August 24-25, in order to debate President Klaus Iohannis’s request to re-examine the Fiscal Code. The Code will be discussed and re-examined within the Senate on August 24 and within the Lower Chamber on August 25.

Dragnea stated that it is normal for the Prime Minister and Finance Minister to present the draft budget correction ordinance to the PSD leadership, explaining that PSD supports the Government’s actions and it is good for it to be informed.

“I have seen a certain state of nervousness because the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister are presenting the draft budget correction ordinance within PSD’s BPN. It is something I agreed with the Prime Minister, it is normalcy. PSD supports the Government’s actions and for that it is good for it to be informed, because the budget correction ordinance is basically a law that contributes to the continued economic development of this country. It is natural for PSD to be informed in order to be able to support this very important document both publicly and at local level, we are talking about a positive budget correction, the budget has more money, money that have to be reallocated in order to continue to carry out the social programmes as well as the investment programmes,” Dragnea said at the start of the BPN meeting.

He added that this draft budget correction will be discussed again within the ruling coalition’s meeting on Monday afternoon, because “there is a fair and natural partnership” between the parties that make up the ruling coalition and the Government.

Dragnea pointed out that Labour Minister Rovana Plumb will present at the BPN meeting the timetable for the drafting and the public debating of the salary law and several issues of internal organization will also be discussed.

In his strategy Dragnea has included a more efficient PR system, “putting Valeriu Zgonea to good use” in the party’s relations with embassies, a better collaboration with the heads of County Councils and mayors, through National County Councils Union (UNCJR) President Marian Oprisan and Association of Municipalities President Robert Negoita, but also the reorganization of the leadership of the Social Democrat Youth (TSD). Moreover, Dragnea is not giving up his plan for regionalization and decentralization, a plan through which the heads of County Councils and the Mayors would receive more prerogatives.

At a press conference organized last week after he took over the leadership of PSD, Liviu Dragnea pointed out that the party has to “come out of its passivity,” after it no longer had a strong political voice lately.

Likewise, the interim PSD President also stated that the party has lost throughout time several occasions to build better relations with state institutions and it can promote for the first time a relation of harmony between the Government, Presidency and Parliament. The statements were made at a press conference that followed the first Permanent Bureau meeting that Dragnea chaired as party president.

“This is my very clear position: unfortunately throughout the years PSD has lost many chances through which it could have managed or built better relations both with state institutions and with its political colleagues in Parliament. PSD can promote for the first time a harmonization between the three Palaces, an institutional cooperation and collaboration beneficial for Romanians,” Dragnea stated.

Asked about PNL’s proposal for the organization of public political consultations over economic issues, Dragnea answered: “PSD does not reject any kind of proposal for talks, provided this proposal is made not only for the sake of PR and if good things for citizens are indeed being considered.”

Asked whether he has talked with President Iohannis since he has become PSD President, Dragnea answered negatively.

 

Liviu Dragnea: “No funds are cut from any ministry”

 

Interim PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated after the party’s meeting that no funds will be cut from any ministry when it comes to the budget correction.

“Today we discussed, we all found out that funds will not be cut from any ministry. On the contrary, there is a budget surplus of over RON 4 bln, funds are not cut from Health, Education. On the contrary, all court orders won by teachers will be paid,” Interim PSD President Liviu Dragnea stated.

In what concerns the modification of the Fiscal Code, Dragnea stated that there are no reasons for such a modification despite the fact that President Klaus Iohannis sent the law back to Parliament. In what concerns collaboration between the two institutions, the PSD President pointed out that “PSD can harmonize communication between the Palaces.”

Another issue on the order of the day was the situation registered at the Transport Ministry, where there is “unspent money,” Liviu Dragnea stated.

Likewise, PSD’s interim president stated that he is “preoccupied” with the statements made by BNR Governor Mugur Isarescu, statements according to which the package of tax cuts included in the Fiscal Code “is inapplicable,” adding that the Finance Ministry will talk with National Bank representatives again and will conduct an analysis. Asked for his opinion about Isarescu’s harsh statements, Dragnea answered: “They preoccupy me. I don’t believe the Fiscal Code was adopted in some bathroom, specialists were involved. I don’t want us to simply give in.”

 

Victor Ponta: “Romania has collected more than it has spent”

 

Premier Victor Ponta explained on Monday at the PSD headquarters that Romania has a budget surplus of RON 4 bln in the first six months and that the money can be used to double child benefits and for other laws, pointing out that even after doing so “we will be left with money.”

“For Health, it was said that RON 600 M is taken and RON 700 M given. That means in the green. The idea is this, in order for people to understand because everyone juggles with figures without understanding them: according to the budget law approved by Romania’s Parliament, in the first six months Romania should have had a deficit of RON 13 bln, namely it should have spent more than it should have collected. In the first six months Romania had a surplus of RON 4 bln, this means revenues were higher than expenditures. This means we can use all money to double child benefits, for the other laws concerning diplomats, court clerks, non-teaching school staff, and we would still be left with money, which we hope we will be able to spend by the end of the year. This to put it in accessible terms. More money means positive correction. The funds cut at the Transport Ministry are cut from the co-financing of projects that are no longer implemented because there is no time until December 31, because of reasons such as suspicions, investigations. The investigations and projects that cannot continue are growing by the year.”

Before the meeting, the Premier attacked President Klaus Iohannis, referring to Dan Mihalache, the head of the Presidential Chancellery. “Me not answering the phone? Of course I do not answer when Mr. Dan Mihalache, Romania’s President, calls me. I answer when the official president, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, calls me,” Victor Ponta told journalists on Monday ahead of PSD’s BPN meeting. Ponta added that he last talked to President Iohannis on June 5, when the latter asked him to resign as a result of the start of the DNA probe against him. The Head of Government is investigated by the DNA for tax evasion, money laundering and forgery.

Presidential advisor Dan Mihalache recently complained, in an interview for Antena 3, about the deficient communication between Premier Victor Ponta and the Presidential Administration.

 

PM Ponta: Before the Fiscal Code was adopted there was no objection on it

 

Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Monday said nobody objected with the Fiscal Code before it was adopted, adding, in connection with the proposal of the National Liberal Party (PNL) that consultations be held on important issues, that dialogue is always an excellent idea.

“I was delighted to see that as well as asking for my resignation, Mrs Gorghiu knows more words in Romanian, which is excellent. Dialogue is always an excellent idea,” Ponta said at the end of a meeting of the ruling coalition.

Ponta announced having discussed with Governor of the National Bank of Romania (BNR) Mugur Isarescu the Fiscal Code several times.

“I believe it is very good for us to discuss the Fiscal Code now after it was approved; it would have been ideal for those with negative opinions to voice them before that. I used to discuss with the governor before the adoption of the Fiscal Code, and nobody said they objected with the Tax Code, everybody agreed, and afterwards they changed their minds,” Ponta said in response to Isarescu’s statement that the Fiscal Code is economically inapplicable.

 

Gabriel Oprea: “The talks within PSD’s BPN were very good, constructive”

 

Deputy Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea stated on Monday that the talks within PSD’s BPN were “very good, constructive,” and the meeting focused on the act of governance.

“The talks were very good, they were constructive. The budget correction was presented, which is a positive correction,” UNPR President Gabriel Oprea pointed out.

He added that the meeting also focused on the act of governance.

“It is important that PSD, which is the largest party in the coalition, too, [and] the entire coalition is focused on governing. This was demanded during the meeting by Mr. Dragnea as well as by Mr. Ponta, and by me. We are focusing on governing and the Government is a good one,” the Deputy Premier stated.

Concerning the money that the Interior Ministry (MAI) would receive following the budget correction, Oprea stated that the MAI is “Romania’s spine.” “We are talking about citizen safety, public order. You can always say you are or you aren’t satisfied. Yes, all efforts were made. And I made efforts too, as Deputy Premier, as Interior Minister… I fought, in the good sense of the word, for the Interior Ministry. I repeat, I did it in fact for Romania’s citizens, because this concerns Romanians’ safety, this country’s public order,” the Deputy Premier said.

Asked about the money that would be taken from the Ministry of Defence following the budget correction, Oprea pointed out that the strategy that concerns this ministry will start to be implemented by the end of the year.

“We have a very clear strategy with Minister Dusa, with the Prime Minister, with President Iohannis so that you will see that by the end of the year that the National Defence Ministry will be able to establish the strategy we have started. First of all, that very important project, extraordinarily important one I would say, the one concerning 2 per cent of GDP per year in the next 10 years, which means predictability for the Romanian Armed Forces,” the Deputy Prime Minister added.

Likewise, Gabriel Oprea stated that he respects PSD’s decision to vote for Dragnea as its party president. “Like I told Liviu Dragnea, we are friends, we can drink cold wine and hot tea. The important thing is for the coalition to carry on, for us to have a government as good as possible. I am now going to attend PSD’s BPN meeting and I am convinced that this ruling coalition is growing increasingly strong,” Oprea said before entering the PSD headquarters.

 

Liberal leader Gorghiu on Fiscal Code: We believe pre-vote analysis appropriate

 

Liberal Co-chairperson Alina Gorghiu said on Monday that a technical debate on the Fiscal Code that was returned to Parliament would be appropriate before the MPs vote on it.

“Voting against the Fiscal Code has never been an option. We’ve never considered burning, thrashing or shelving it. Today’s proposition to have a debate on the document includes a technical debate on the Fiscal Code. Having in view the questions raised by the Fiscal Council, the central bank governor, and the Presidency experts, we think it is appropriate to conduct an analysis before voting on the tax-cut package. And if, following a calendar we will suggest and Parliament and the other decision-makers agree upon, we succeed to draw certain conclusions by the end of August, and the figures are edifying and support the tax-cut package regardless of the form that emerges from debates, myself and PNL partner Co-Chair Vasile Blaga and all our colleagues will definitely support it,” Gorghiu said after the meeting of the PNL Unification Committee on Monday.

In his turn, Vasile Blaga said that when PNL voted on the Fiscal Code they asked Victor Ponta to stick to the governing program. “Ponta states in the document that they will take the collection degree from 32.8 to 38 percent. Five points and something of GDP would be overly sufficient to support the fiscal relaxation. The document states they will cut tax evasion by 14 percentage points, well do this, and you’ll have the money for the planned tax unburdening,” the Liberal leader said.

As for the Fiscal Procedure Code, Vasile Blaga said that the party stays consistent with its already expressed stance. “We didn’t approve the Fiscal Procedure Code because from PNL’s viewpoint, it maintains a stance typical of the communist state. Unfair treatment, unfair treatment of the state – citizen and state – trading companies relation. The state further allows itself not to pay the trading companies for years, and therefore many of them are in trouble. I cannot believe all Romanian contractors are thieves. There still must be some honest building company owners,” said the PNL Co-chair.

 

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