PM Ponta: The President has no constitutional right to suspend me if I am sent to court

Asked whether he discussed with President Klaus Iohannis his investigation by the National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) after he was asked to resign, Prime Minister Victor Ponta told a televised show on Thursday evening that there was no reason to do so, arguing that even if he is sent to court the President has no constitutional right to suspend him from office.

Ponta added that he is innocent as far as the accusations of tax evasion levelled at him are concerned, and that would be why he asked the DNA prosecutors to consider the allegations separately from a larger case Rovinari-Turceni so that a solution will be soon found.

“Until June 5, I had a very civilised, constructive and normal relationship with Mr Iohannis; there was a colder time and I have not met him to discuss in weeks. I did not discuss the case with the President and I do not believe there is any reason for me to do so. The President’s stance back then was a political one, which I understand even if I do not find it all right. (…) I am a defendant in a court case, but I have not been sent to court. If sent to court, the President will not be able to suspend me from office, because there is no such constitutional right,” said Ponta.

He said once again that he will not resign his prime ministerial office as long as he has the backing of the ruling coalition, adding that he does not want to still be in the office after 2016, but he may be considering running for a seat in the Chamber of Deputies.

“I still dislike Basescu, he continues to say outrageous stupid things”

Prime Minister Victor Ponta told RTV private broadcaster on Thursday evening that former President Traian Basescu did not improve himself, mentioning that he still dislikes Basescu, who he claims continues to say “outrageous stupid things.”

“We do not like each other, not even now, our feelings have not changed. He is minding his own business, but every now and then he says outrageous stupid things, such as Muslim students will blow the underground apart, or we have to close our borders, all outrageous stupid things. When he was in office he used to say mega-stupid things as well. He would leave for Brussels a beast only to become a kitten when in Brussels. I find it ridiculous for a former head of state to say such enormities; Mr Basescu may have all the defects of the world, but he is not stupid; he knows well that all these matters are outrageous; he is lying when saying we will close our borders. We cannot close them, I mean we could, but we are in Europe,” said Ponta.

About Basescu being investigated for threat by the General Prosecution Service, Ponta said Basescu’s action was unacceptable, refusing to elaborate. ”Leaving aside the fact that I find it unacceptable for a President to threaten [a woman] that [she] might not find her spouse at home at night, I do not want to say more,” added Ponta.

“I would agree with Dragnea returning to Gov’t”

Ponta also told RTV private broadcaster on Thursday evening that he would agree with a return to the governmental team of now acting chairman of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) Liviu Dragnea, adding that Dragnea was one of the best members of his Cabinet.

Asked about his take on cooperation between the Power, the Opposition and the President, Ponta said the PSD acting national chairman is doing what the leader of the largest political party in Romania has to do.

“Liviu Dragnea is doing very well (…) that is what the national chairman of the largest political party in Romania which is also at rule should do. What good a scandal, since we are governing and governing well? (…) I sincerely want this to last. If Liviu Dragnea returns to the leadership of the party in a more important office, that will be his business. (…) We have been a team since February 2010 and we still are… If he wanted to come back to the Cabinet, I would agree because he was one of the best ministers, besides having been a deputy prime minister as well and having helped me. I believe Liviu Dragnea wants now to organise the party and lead it in the elections. With Liviu Dragnea as campaign manager we have won all the elections, expect for the presidential elections,” said Ponta.

He added that he still counts on Liviu Dragnea and deputy PM Gabriel Oprea’s continual support for him to hold the prime ministerial office, adding that it would make things easier for him if the two said they wanted someone else in the office.

“I am totally sure of Gabriel Oprea and Liviu Dragnea’s support. I am not nervous, because I cannot say it would be a tragedy if tomorrow Liviu Dragnea and Gabi Oprea said they want someone else as the prime minister. On the contrary, that would be a burden off my shoulder. There is no treason in politics, only shifting priorities. I trust both of them, as well as [co-chairs of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE)] Calin Popescu Tariceanu and Daniel Constantin,” Ponta concluded.

“I want this year to pay out enforceable claims to teachers, magistrates, public employees”

Prime Minister Victor Ponta also told RTV private broadcaster on Thursday evening that all enforceable claims to teachers, magistrates and other public workers that sued the Government to retrieve their pay cuts will be paid out this year, saying that the money will be taken out of a 1.5-billion-euro budget surplus.

“For the time being, there is a surplus of 1.5 billion euros, although we should have been within an annual deficit of 1.83 percent agreed upon with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Commission. So it would be foolish of us to keep in the coffers this surplus money that we have from improved collection – from the fact that the National Tax Administration Agency (ANAF) did its job and brought more money to the national budget by fighting against tax evasion. For instance, the 25-perecent pay raise for doctors is paid for from these funds as well. I have discussed with all ministers and I want us this year to pay out all the enforceable claims of the teachers, magistrates and other public employees who sued [former Prime Minister] Boc, because since Boc we have been paying out claims. We said that since we have money, let us use it this way and end the story,” said Ponta.

At the same time, Ponta said that while his Cabinet is still in power, throughout December 2016, the tax on special structures and the additional fuel excise duty will be repealed

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