The Government on Wednesday passed the first revision in 2016 of the national budget and social security spending, Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos reports.
“We have approved the first budgetary revision this year. As far back as the early part of our tenure, we undertook to manage the national budget to keep its deficit below 3 percent. (…) Even if they seem technical figures, the deficit is important in order to preserve credibility in the Government’s capability of managing the budget and consequently securing stable economic development and growth of the country (…). This revision regards a surplus, despite a shoestring budget we built late last year,” Ciolos said at the Government House.
He added that the Government’s revenues were by 3 billion lei higher in the first half of 2016 than initially projected and that is additional to what was decided for 2016 in terms of budgetary allocations.
PM Ciolos: It is the first time in many years when we make budget revision without political mark
Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos on Wednesday said that it is for the first time in many years when the Government makes a budget revision on an election year, “without a political mark.”
“I believe it is for the first time in many years when we make a budget revision on an election year, a revision without a political mark. Our goal is to fund announced public policies, cover real needs and not seek, through budget revision, to win votes to the detriment of the budget efficiency. We have allotted resources where needed to continue some projects assumed in the government programme, initiated by several ministries, but also to cover some new spending, that have come up from priorities emerged during the tenure, including Ordinance 20 on the correction of the pay schemes implemented as of August 1, but also to put into practice some Parliament’s decisions for the payment of some social benefits, however without endangering the macroeconomic balance,” Ciolos said at the Victoria Palace.
The Prime Minister insisted on keeping within the set limits the budget deficit and asked for the avoidance of some “temptations” that would put pressure on the budget.
“It is important that we can keep a balance of the budget between the expenses on investments, the expenses on consumption. This is our approach and I hope that during this election year and the months to come we avoid temptations that may put unsustainable pressure on the budget,” the Prime Minister also said.
Ciolos: Healthcare, Education and Social benefits, this year’s first budget revision priorities
Healthcare, Education and Social security benefits are the priorities of the first budget revision made this year, Prime Minister Dacian Ciolos also said on Wednesday, pointing out that a special attention was also granted to investments.
The Prime Minister announced that the situation of investments in the first six months is better than in the similar period of last year.
“We have granted and continue to grant attention to investments – we are aware that it isn’t enough to put forth more money for consumption in salaries, in social security benefits. It is important to also see how investments evolve. (…) In the first six months we have a better situation than in the same period of last year, with three areas where there is a good execution in investments: regional development, transport and agriculture,” Ciolos explained in a press statement at the Victoria governmental Palace.
In respect to Healthcare, the prime minister pointed out that the revision ensures the resources to enforce the Ordinance aimed at correcting the pay schemes, to fund some healthcare programmes, but also to provide compensated and free medicines.
“We have an almost 570 million lei additional budget allotment, which will reach over 163,000 persons, who, under the correction of the pay scheme, will have higher income. Other 860 million are ensured under commitment loans for various healthcare programmes conducted this year,” the prime minister explained.
Referring to the Education area, Dacian Ciolos announced an additional allotment worth over one billion lei.
“It concerns money devoted to correcting the pay scheme, (…) but also eliminating some injustice acts in respect to the salaries of the teaching staff, which have been corrected under a draft law adopted by Parliament. (…) Out of this billion lei, money will also go to funding some educational programmes,” Ciolos said, pointing out that the revision in Education has a positive effect on almost 280,000 teaching and auxiliary staff.
The prime minister said that the Government has assumed the payment of social benefits, regardless of their having been assumed before this year’s budget was drawn up or having come up during the year, under Parliament decisions.
“Under this revision we are allotting over 2.8 billion lei to the Labour Ministry budget. Half, about 1.4 billion lei, is devoted to the payment of the child-rearing benefit, but also of some social aids or state allowances for children, benefits for the disabled persons,” Ciolos added.
He mentioned that another 1.4 billion lei is devoted to ensuring the payment of pensions until the end of the year.
“To make it clear that the Government is responsible from this point of view, I have said it several times, in spite of some things that have been disseminated on some TV screens, according to which the technocrat government is cutting pensions. We take on this responsibility and cover the necessary amounts to pay the pensions until the end of the year, therefore a pension cut is out of the question,” Dacian Ciolos pointed out.
Necessary budget to organise elections nationwide and abroad, ensured
Ciolos said that under the budget revision funds were allotted for the good conduct of the elections both in Romania and abroad.
“We ensured the necessary budget allotments to organise the elections. We earmarked over 200 million lei, having the Interior Ministry as first beneficiary, but also the Foreign Affairs Ministry and the Communications Ministry, which will be in charge in the area of postal voting. We tackled the organisation of the elections in Romania, but also the organisation with sufficient resources for the Romanians abroad,” Ciolos said at the Victoria Palace on Wednesday.
Beyond these additional sums allotted to organise the elections in good conditions, the prime minister announced that money was earmarked to the Foreign Affairs Ministry “for the improvement of the consular services conditions.”
“Works are needed in certain consulates where we have very many service requests. We shall start with some in areas where there is a strong Romanian presence and we shall begin, in the coming period, with the consulates in Paris and London, where there is a very significant traffic and where the conditions – of infrastructure, location – must be improved,” Ciolos showed.
First positive budget amendment for Environment Ministry in past years
Prime Minister said that the Environment Ministry has benefited from a positive amendment (of the budget – author’s note) since it has in view to enforce a Forestry Code’s provision included, by which the state is to finance the pay for the guard of the private forests smaller than 30 hectares.
“It is aimed at the guard of the private forests smaller than 30 hectares for which the Forestry Code ever since 2008 was forecasting budget money to cover these areas’ guard,” said Ciolos at the Victoria governmental Palace, adding that the provisions of the law have never been enforced.
The Premier also announced that the Government is preparing for the next period “a package of measures to significantly slash the impact of illegal logging or of the timber theft from Romania’s woods.”
“A second direction of positive budget amendment for the Environment Ministry aims to the floods. (…) In order to prevent the floods we have decided to allocate 80 million lei for investments in flood defence works,” the Premier specified.
Gov’t passes measures to streamline, improve scientific researchers’ access to management of R&D national institutes
The procedure whereby competitions are organized to fill the position of director general of research and development national institutes shall ensure the recognition of the professional and scientific achievements of the prospective candidates by correlating them with the competition requirements, informs a government statement on Wednesday.
According to a freshly adopted government decision “the procedure for the organization of such competitions shall allow the effective participation of experienced researchers from the EU or European Economic Area member states.”
Thus, the professional and scientific accomplishments of experienced researchers must be at least equivalent to those of a second degree scientific researcher, and in parallel with the competition, the National Council for the Attestation of Academic Titles, Diplomas and Certificates (CNATDCU) shall determine the equivalence of the professional achievements of the scientific researchers enrolled in the job competition against the national minimum criteria in force at the entry in the competition, which are the mandatory standards for the award of the professional title of second degree scientific researcher.
“To increase transparency, the new regulations provide for the mandatory notification of the prospective candidates, prior to their enrollment in the competition, on the terms of the management contract, the nature of the legal relationship and the responsibilities of the director general. A framework structure of the management contract shall also be provided, and in order to implement an effective and responsible management, the contract must be governed by administrative law. Any disputes arising from the conclusion, performance, amendment, termination and interpretation of contract clauses shall be settled according to administrative litigation law and not as an individual employment contract,” the government informs.
Gov’t sets crude oil, petroleum products emergency stocks at over 1.2 ml tonnes
The Government adopted on Wednesday a decision setting at 1,238,183 tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) the crude oil and/or petroleum products emergency stocks that need to be set up and maintained in 2016 under the Law 360/2013 that classifies the minimum stocks as emergency stocks and specific stocks
According to a government statement, the freshly adopted regulatory act breaks down the emergency oil and petroleum products stocks by the companies required to set up and maintain such stocks, as follows: SC OMV Petrom SA – 519,361 toe, SC Rompetrol Rafinare SA – 341,930 toe, SC Petrotel-Lukoil SA – 184,805 toe, SC MOL Romania Petroleum Products SRL – 101,273 toe, SC Oscar Downstream SRL – SC 88,891 toe and Air BP Sales Romania SRL – 1,923 toe.
“Emergency stocks consist of gasoline, diesel, kerosene, black oil and crude. Of the stored amount, each company must ensure at least one-third of petroleum products and a maximum two thirds of crude oil. The companies will finance the emergency stocks from their own sources,” the statement says.
Setting up and stocks and specific stocks.maintaining emergency stocks is the companies’ responsibility, while setting up specific stocks is the responsibility of the National State Reserves and Specific Issues Administration (ANRSPS), but as this year the administration will not set up specific stocks, while the emergency stocks will be the equivalent of the minimum stocks, which were calculated for this year using the daily domestic consumption average over 61 days. The obligation to set up and maintain emergency stocks apply to the companies that releases to the market more than 1,000 tonnes of crude oil and / or petroleum products per year, the statement says.
Gov’t passes programme to contain surface water pollution
The Government on Wednesday passed a decision approving a programme for staged elimination of evacuations, emissions and losses of priority hazardous substances and other measures regarding principal pollutants as well as an updated list of priority substances in water policy.
The Government says in a press statement that the programme comprises all the measures applied to surface waters to contain their pollution by priority hazardous substances and principal pollutants, as well as the elimination of pollution by priority hazardous substances coming from all sources of human activity pollution that can affect surface water quality.
“The decision appoints the Romanian Waters National Administration the authority responsible for implementing the measures included in the programme. At the same time, the decision approves technical specifications for the chemical testing used in the monitoring of surface waters as well as the minimum performance requirements in the monitoring of water state, sediments and biota as well as proof regulations regarding the quality of analytical results,” the statement says.
The decision transposes to the national legislation the provisions of some European directives while rounding up the legislative framework regarding the quality of surface waters that are not used as sources for treatment processes and technologies for human consumption, water sources for irrigations, energy generation and life support for fish and mollusks.