POLITICS

Senior officials’ salaries doubled on 1 August

The wages of top-ranking officials in Romania will considerably go up on 1 August 2015, according to the approval given by the Government on 8 July, during the period when Gabriel Oprea was interim PM.

Prime-Minister Victor Ponta did not prorogue the enforcement of the ordinance until the time when the wages were to grow in the entire public sector, as promised, and did not annul the measure signed by interim PM Gabriel Oprea either, so the salary rise for top officials was accommodated in the budget rectification under Government Ordinance 14/2015 on the increase of salaries for officials.

‘The ordinance about the salaries of officials – I did not agree to it. I did say that, indeed, officials should be well paid, but only at the same time with the Salary Law. I didn’t want to give the impression that I had something against what Mr. Iohannis and Mr. Oprea had discussed in my absence. But I will go back on my decision and on Wednesday we will adopt a new one. Officials’ salaries will only grow together with the salaries in the rest of the public system’, Ponta was writing on Facebook on 10 July.

‘You know very well that there was a discussion between the president and Mr. Oprea, which I understood and accepted, Ponta said on Romania TV, on 24 July.

PM Victor Ponta said on Tuesday, on B1 TV, that the budgeting of the ordinance on growing top-ranking officials’ wages on 1 August, within the budget rectification approved by the Government, had been decided not to give the impression that he wanted political retaliation against President Klaus Iohannis, according to Agerpres.

‘The money has been allocated. The change has changed. I have not changed my opinion on the fact that this was inopportune and that we should have grown salaries for officials together with the rest of the salaries. But, two… very political things. One – it would have meant that I should have abrogated something done in good faith by Mr. Oprea which, politically speaking, would have been an embarrassing situation. And, two – which was also Mr. Dragnea’s position and the opinion of the other heads of party in the coalition – it would have looked like my revenge on Mr. Iohannis, that I would have cut his salary, or, in politics, revenge is not really the best weapon. I have not changed my view. I did understand the position of my colleagues and I allocated the money’, said the premier.

The measure to raise officials’ pay concerns a total of 48 positions: the president of Romania, the prime-minister, the ministers, the speakers of the two Chambers of Parliament, the Directors of the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI), the Protection and Guard Service (SPP), the Special Telecommunications Service (STS). On 1 August, PM Victor Ponta will cash a net wage of 15,108 lei and so will President Iohannis. The PM’s current after-tax salary is 6,200 lei and the president’s is 6,500 lei. The net wage of the deputy prime-minister will be 14,024 lei. The other senior officials, ministers and heads of intelligence will have a salary of 13,365 lei.

President Klaus Iohannis approved of the controversial normative act. PM Victor Ponta, on the other hand, said it was not an opportune measure and that he would withdraw it, but the subject was not discussed during the weekly Cabinet meeting after all.

 

Premier says he will donate the difference

 

After the pay rise for officials had scandalised the Romanian public, Prime-Minister Victor Ponta said, on a social media website, that he would donate the extra sum. Not indefinitely, only until the new Salary Law is adopted.

‘I have personally decided to donate the extra sum received after 1 August under the <famous ordinance> to the basketball team of Steaua Club (which, this year, is playing again in a European competition after many years). In this way I will be at ease with myself and I am making a symbolic gesture supporting the team and the sport that I have loved so much for over 30 years!’ Ponta states.

 

Prime Minister: Increase of dignitaries’ pay rules out political revenge against President Iohannis

 

Prime Minister Victor Ponta on Tuesday told a B1TV late-night broadcast that the endorsement of the Ordinance regarding the increase of high dignitaries pay with August 1, within the budget amendment approved on Tuesday by the Government, has been decided to avoid the perception of a political revenge against President Klaus Iohannis.

“I haven’t changed my opinion on the fact that it was inopportune and that we should increase the dignitaries salaries the same time with everyone else. Yet, two… very political things. Firstly, it would have meant to cancel something done in good faith by Mr. [Gabriel] Oprea (while an interim as Prime Minister – editor’s note), which politically would have been awkward. And secondly, and this was also Mr. [Liviu] Dragnea’s and the other coalition leaders’ opinion, it would have looked that I was taking revenge against Mr. Iohannis,that I was slashing his salary, or vengeance in politics is not the best weapon. I haven’t changed that opinion. I took notice of my colleagues’ viewpoint and put the money there,” said the Prime Minister.

“I took into account of Mr. Dragnea’s opinion; Mr. Dragnea is now the (ad interim – editor’s note) PSD (Social Democrat Party, main in the ruling alliance – editor’s note) leader, I’m a mere party member. (…) The opinion of Liviu Dragnea was to assume responsibility instead of being told that we were taking revenge against Klaus Iohannis and cut his salary. The point is we are a big party, the Government is working together with the Presidency and, instead of wars, it’s better having a normal, civil collaboration,” the Prime Minister added.

 

Acting PM Oprea defends higher wages for dignitaries

 

Interim Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea has stated on Wednesday that during the current period of strengthening of the state institutions it is necessary that decision makers be given EU-level remuneration.

“We adopted it  in good faith and with responsibility. I believe that during this necessary historic period for Romania (…) of strengthening of state institutions, including that of justice, during the time I served as interim Prime Minister I backed the justice system, it was necessary and, as you very well know, it is necessary that decision makers within the government be given EU-level remuneration because this is our benchmark – to have capable individuals and to fight those who are corrupt (…). The wider background was that of the increase of all public sector workers”, Oprea, president of the National Union for the Progress of Romania (UNPR) stated at the party headquarters.

He added that when the ordinance was first introduced, he explained the wider background and made himself understood by both Prime Minister Victor Ponta and the rest of the government.

When asked whether the delay in enforcing the ordinance on dignitaries’ wages could be seen as ‘revenge’ towards President Klaus Iohannis, as suggested by Victor Ponta, Oprea stated that he does not play power games.

“I am not someone who plays power games, I could even be a bridge between the two institutions, because there is a need for that and I believe that Romania needs us to promote this type of cult of work and reliability”, the interim Prime Minister added.

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