POLITICS

President Iohannis at Government’s launch of “Competitive Romania” project, after Brexit: “The European potential can emerge strengthened from the challenges currently facing it, and Romania can undertake an active and constructive part”

Romania’s Government, through the Economy, Trade and Relations with Business Environment Ministry, under the high aegis of Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis and with support from the Romanian Academy and the National Bank of Romania, on Tuesday launched for public consultation “Competitive Romania: a project for sustainable economic growth.”

On this occasion, President Klaus Iohannis urged the Government to round up its economic policies with the European dimension in the current context. He hailed the Government having put up for public consultation a project for Romania’s economic development.

The statements were made after Premier Dacian Ciolos, National Bank of Romania (BNR) Governor Mugur Isarescu and political party leaders were invited at the Presidential Palace on Monday in order to take part in the second round of consultations on the topic of United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. At the end of that meeting, President Iohannis stated that it took place 10 years after Romania became a European Union member state and that all political leaders pledged to support a medium- and long-term national project that will be drafted by a working group that will work at the Presidency.

“The strong Romania we want to build entails capitalising on the competitive advantages we have, which is not just the economy, but also Romania’s national opportunities in its geographical region and in Europe. In this respect, I am urging the Government to round up its economic strategies and policies with the European dimensions required in the current context,” Iohannis told a meeting at the Palace of Parliament for the release for public consultation of a strategic document called “Competitive Romania: a project for sustainable economic growth.”

He pointed out that Romania currently needs a new economic development model.

“We all know that all kinds of strategies have been developed in Romania, but many of them were left in the drawers, mainly at the government level; what I intend to do now is more than a list of economic measures, I mean measures that can sketch up a strategy, a model for development Romania is compelled to think of,” said Iohannis.

He added that on Monday agreement was reached over work on a post-EU accession country project for Romania.

“In the area of economics, we need a sound, long-term vision that will generate lasting prosperity for Romanians. Let us not forget the painful lesson of the recent crisis – namely that once gained, prosperity is easy to lose. That is why we need sustainable economic growth, for which we have to consolidate confidence in economic organisations and polices, so that what we build may last,” said Iohannis.

Also, Iohannis says realistic and responsible governance is needed, pointing out that the economic policies must be conceived beyond the horizon of election cycles.

“It is important that we think in perspective and do in the short run what we know can be sustainable in the long term. We need a responsible, realistic governance, going beyond the short term and the quantitative side in favour of the long-term and qualitative approach. This means consistency on the path of reforms, transparency and fiscal simplification, uncoupling the clientele of any kind from public money by cutting down corruption and reducing bureaucracy,” Iohannis said on Tuesday at the Palace of Parliament, at the launch for public consultation of the strategic document “Competitive Romania: a project for sustainable economic growth.”

He pointed out that a new development model must begin with the profound re-thinking of the relation between the citizen and the state.

Iohannis underlined that the economic policies must be conceived so as to go beyond the horizon of election cycles.

He showed that Romania’s macroeconomic picture is good, with favourable economic growth forecasts, of about 4 percent per year, in conditions of monetary and financial stability.

“It is important to expand the prospects of sustainability, to have a healthy and lasting economic growth. We have been through a severe economic crisis and Romania is still comfortably positioned, with the public debt below 40 percent of the GDP. However, let us not encourage development based on debt, which can become unsustainable at any time, and not neglect, from this point of view, the burden of budget deficits,” Iohannis said.

The head of the state pointed out that reviving investments is essential, in the context in which the private sector is in full process of regaining economic confidence, and underscored that at government level a priority is to strengthen the administrative capacity in respect to public investments, which saw an unnaturally precarious budget execution in recent years.

“We must recoup the lags in terms of accessing European funds, specifically normalise the European financial support,” he said.

Iohannis underscored that through the flat tax rate Romania is currently competitive in terms of taxation, pointing out that this is an important advantage that is worth keeping not only in order to attract foreign investments, but also to support Romanian capital.

Iohannis added that he would like as many specialists as possible – economists, academics, the civil society and political parties – to participate in the Competitive Romania project ”to call a spade a spade, seek solutions and make decision makers and the political class responsible.”

“We are talking about Romania’s main priorities. But how will we reach such priorities? What governmental measures, policies and decisions? These are the questions to which you have to actually and immediately answer,” the President said.

He mentioned transport infrastructure as utmost priority, saying that development regions need to actually get connected and to easily open toward external markets.

He said energy is a genuine source of competitive advantage in Romania’s case, mentioning that the country can play a key role in regional security.

Also, Iohannis added that despite its huge potential, Romania’s agriculture is still at the mercy of the elements and that the land ownership regime is still in the works.

“I firmly believe that Romanian agriculture and farmers deserve our special attention. In the last 20 years, the GDP share of agriculture has fallen continuously from 18 percent in 1995 to 4 – 5 percent in recent years. We have a huge agricultural potential, but agriculture is still at the mercy of the elements,” Iohannis said at the Palace of Parliament at the launch for public consultation of the strategic document “Competitive Romania: a project for sustainable economic growth.”

The President also remarked that the land ownership regime is still in the works.

“Although we claim that we have completed the transition to a market economy, the land ownership regime is still in the works, advances slowly and hasn’t found its direction yet, despite the various government teams that have succeeded in office,” said the head of state.

He also said education is a fundamental pillar for Romania’s development.

“Strong Romania is a competitive Romania, a European Romania. I believe that the European potential can emerge strengthened from the challenges currently facing it, and Romania can undertake an active and constructive part. But, all of us, member countries of the European Union, have to understand that we are better off together than separate. That is why the development of tomorrow’s Romania has to be seen as a European strategy direction as well. It is important that we prepare ourselves the best we can to be able to capitalise on the deepening of European integration, including by joining the Eurozone,” Iohannis concluded.

 

PM Ciolos: We need political agreement for Romania’s competitiveness strategy

 

Romania needs political agreement for a competitiveness strategy, a set of priorities to reach consensus on, so that their execution isn’t affected by election cycles, Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos said on Tuesday at the Palace of Parliament, in the opening of the “Competitive Romania” conference.

“First of all we want a final document to reflect the Romanians’ and Romania’s will and interests in the medium and long-term, a set of priorities on which to have consensus, so that their execution isn’t affected by election cycles. What we certainly need is political agreement for a strategy on Romania’s competitiveness. We, therefore, address you today the open invitation to jointly take on a path, which, besides increasing economic competitiveness, should enhance in the first place the confidence in our own forces, in Romania’s potential, to bring Romania to its true development potential and create the Romania we want to live in,” Prime Minister Ciolos told the participants in the event.

Also, PM Ciolos said that Romania is currently enjoying the widest security and economic stability guarantees in its history, and should take advantage of this opportunity.

“This privileged status obliges us, the temporary holders of decision-making offices, to do our best for Romania to take advantage of this historical opportunity extended to it. The transformation we need is not merely administrative, but it is a deeper one at the level of mentalities. That is why we have to embrace, before anything else, action values and principles that will make us confident we can carry through a project,” Ciolos told a meeting for the release for public consultation of a strategic document called “Competitive Romania: a project for sustainable economic growth.”

Ciolos added that the Government has entered a period in which it is delivering results.

The PM said that the Government enjoys the involvement and support of President Klaus Iohannis, the National Bank of Romania and the Romanian Academy, pointing out that it is essential that political decision-makers also commit to this project.

“We enjoyed in this projection exercise the involvement and direct support of Romania’s President, the National Bank of Romania and the Romanian Academy. However, the political decision-makers’ commitment to the results and conclusions is key to the success of this demarche, as we also hope for their direct involvement in the reflection process we launch today. Most certainly, the President’s proposal to endorse and coordinate a country project that also includes an economic component is decisive for capitalizing on this demarche we couldn’t fully anticipate when we launched it in the governance programme, at the beginning of this tenure; however, I believe things are falling into place, because we have prepared and are launching this debate today, which comes to meet and complete the demarche the President announced yesterday,” Ciolos said.

The Prime Minister emphasized that the strategic document “Competitive Romania: a project for sustainable economic growth” is launched after the Government set the solid groundwork in place for its initiation.

“We pushed (…) those buttons that trigger in a domino effect a sequence of other reforms and initiatives without which a competitive Romania could not exist. These demarches (…) include the package for streamlining and red-tape cutting, which we adopted in the Government last week and which can ground a different manner of conducting public administration, in relation with the citizen and the business environment. At the same time, we also launched a new law package on public procurement, which was also completed, a new paradigm based on transparency and efficiency in spending public money, a market representing over 15 billion Euro. We have also launched taxation facilities for all those working in applied research and technological development centres, engineers or researchers. (…) New legislation is also under debate for the dual vocational education (…) and last but not least, we also looked to the general cadastre mapping, which is important to any activity involving land and buildings. In connection to this, we adopted a GEO with a series of provisions meant to speed up the registration of real estate in the integrated cadastre and land register system, measures of a high importance mostly from the perspective of farm land, but also of infrastructure projects,” Ciolos said.

 

EcoMin Borc: “On Monday we start working on each file, pencil in hand”

 

Next Monday, the authorities will start talks on the 16 measures included in the “Competitive Romania” project, Economy Ministry Costin Borc stated on Tuesday at the Palace of Parliament.

“For each of the 16 domains there is a file on which work was done. We do not want to impose. A document should be the result of a debate and so starting next week there will be a timetable for each domain. Experts, people from NGOs, government specialists, specialists from business associations, employers’ associations, trade unions will be invited. They will receive the document put up for debate for each domain,” Borc said.

He pointed out that there will be a debate for each domain and the resulting document will be published.

“What we wanted today was to put up for public consultation, to present several principles, the direction we want to take. My feeling is that after today these principles are accepted. On Monday we start working on each file, pencil in hand, calculator in hand, on each measure, on each measure’s budget, on the action plan,” the Economy Minister added.

 

Governor Isarescu: Competitive Romania for sustainable growth, part of national sustainable development strategy

 

The Competitive Romania for sustainable growth project is part of a national sustainable development strategy, Governor of the National Bank of Romania (BNR) Mugur Isarescu told a specialist conference in Bucharest on Tuesday.

“The initiative for the document is welcome and the National Bank of Romania (BNR) has supported the action and will continue to do so when consensus is sought for it through contributions in its area of expertise, joining in the efforts of the Government and the Romanian Academy. ‘The Competitive Romania: a project for sustainable economic growth’ is part of a national strategy for sustainable development and this first project is up for public consultation starting today. Turning it into a viable strategy that will not die in some drawers, as it has been said about other strategies, that will be still relevant beyond an electoral cycle while covering the political spectrum of all the parliamentary parties, is conditional upon building an as large a consensus as possible,” said Isarescu.

He added that the involvement of the political environment, the business community, social partners and the civil society is essential.

“The public debate in the months to come on this first project, with all its ups and downs, will generate a common language and that will be the first step forward toward reaching consensus,” Isarescu added.

BNR’s Isarescu on Tuesday attended the release for public consultation of a strategic document called “Competitive Romania: a project for sustainable economic growth,” an event organised by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Relations with the Business Environment.

 

Romanian Academy President: “In this form, the project looks a lot like our vision”

 

Often when problems appear the funds for Education, Research and Health are “sacrificed,” and this should stop, Romanian Academy President Ionel Valentin Vlad stated on Tuesday at the launch for public consultation of the strategic document.

He pointed out that the Romanian Academy has been working on this strategy for around two years, under the high aegis of the Romanian Presidency.

“We’ve had numerous discussions with the Government and, in this form, the project that Deputy Premier Costin Borc presented to us looks a lot like our vision,” the Romanian Academy President stated.

According to him, one of the targets of the document drafted by the Romanian Academy in what concerns Romania’s development project is “a mid-rankings position from the standpoint of living standards.” Likewise, in what concerns Education, the Academy President said that the target is for Romania to be within the European Union’s Top 10 countries by 2035.

The Romanian Academy tackled in its analysis 11 interdisciplinary projects that concern Education, Energy Security, Cybersecurity, Food Security and Safety, Economy and Living Standards, Health, the Danube European Project and the National Danube Strategy, Agriculture Development, Culture and Romania in the Age of Globalisation.

The Romanian Academy President emphasised that sustainable development requires the setting of priorities but also a “convergence” of opinions in Romania.

 

Union leader criticizes Competitive Romania project for overlooking human resource

 

The issue of human resource is not one of the 16 key areas included in the Competitive Romania project, Cartel Alfa National Union Confederation President Bogdan Hossu said on Tuesday at the Parliament Palace, where he participated in the opening of public consultation on a document entitled ‘Competitive Romania: a project for sustainable economic growth,’ organized by the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Relation with Business Environment.

“The principle of a national commitment for a country programme must be co-participative on the part of everyone, not only of political parties – which obviously have an important role because they are the engine in terms of development and decisions, not only of the Presidential Administration or the Government, but of the social partners, of the civil society, because without these what remains is a piece of paper without any practical application. Transposition day by day is actually made by the social partners, the civil society,” said Hossu.

“Romania is an aberrant country where we have had economic development for over eight years, but in terms of distribution between human capital and physical capital, the ownership, there is a major difference. We have exactly the reversed ratio if we compare ourselves to the United States – as some like to do – or to most European countries in the sense that [in Romania] capital takes 60pct of development and labour 40pct. That is why we have one of the largest structures of poverty on a national level and what political decision-makers must learn is written in the Constitution of the International Labour Organization – ‘You cannot build democracy with an impoverished population.’ The fact the human resource is not included as an important area in the 16 domains is a big problem, and it should be re-thought as a position,” said the union leader.

 

Ex-premier Victor Ponta: “Empty talk that not even those announcing it take seriously”

 

Ex-premier Victor Ponta labels the official plans as “empty talk” and claims that two serious sources of investments and development are being ignored: European grants and Chinese investments.

“I see we are once again organising Mammoth Conferences and announcing Five Year Development Plans. Empty talk that not even those announcing it take seriously because it relies on nothing serious and concrete, precisely what we have been seeing in the last two years of the “Iohannis” Regime – let it be good so it won’t be bad (how, nobody knows)! Meanwhile, the world moves on without waiting for Romania – and we have only two serious sources of investments and long-term development: European grants and Chinese investments in the “New Silk Road” Megaproject (which has already turned into OBOR – One Belt One Road”)!” Ponta wrote on Facebook.

“Instead of being serious and smart and of using the EU grants and Chinese investments, we are organising empty talk Conference about nothing – Romania’s National Project is empty talk in 2016! They took their country back and are doing nothing with it – TOUGH LUCK!” Victor Ponta concluded.

 

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