POLITICS

Parliament’s leadership convened on Friday to discuss 2017 budget

The Senate and Lower Chamber’s Standing Bureaus will convene on Friday afternoon to discuss the distribution of the draft 2017 budget to the committees, for debate and the issuing of reports.

Likewise, the Standing Bureau’s order of the day will also include the Budget Committees’ request to postpone for February 15 the deadline for the filing of their report on the investigation into the budget adjustments carried out in 2016.

 

President Iohannis sends letter to PM Grindeanu: I draw attention that budget approach lacks needed responsibility in security context

 

President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday sent a letter to Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu drawing the attention that the approach on the budget construction doesn’t prove the responsibility that “the political and institutional” commitments require in the current regional and international security context.

“In the context of the debates on the budget allotments to the main credit release authorities, I note the fact that, for the national security area, except for the National Defence Ministry budget, all the other budgets witness reductions from the 2016 budget execution, some of these reductions being significant. At the same time, the necessary, pertinent and credible arguments, meant to explain this funding reduction have not been brought yet. (…) I am drawing the attention that this approach on the budget construction doesn’t prove the responsibility that are required from us, as a country and state, by the assumed political and institutional commitments, as well as the existing risks and vulnerabilities in the current regional and international security context,” the head of state says in the letter.

He maintains that, in the context in which the general consolidated budget draft for 2017 provides an increase in overall expenses from 2016, accounting for almost 31 billion lei, which represents an over 15 percent increase from the expenditure made in 2016, the reduction in the budgets for the national security area isn’t only unjustified, but completely inopportune.

The head of state notes that in respect to the budget devoted to the National Defence Ministry, although there is an additional allotment from 2016, up to round 1.5 percent of the GDP, the firmly assumed commitments both by the Government leadership and that of the Social Democratic Party (PSD) aren’t observed, on ensuring a 2 percent of the GDP budget, according to the governance programme and the 2015 agreement, agreed on with the entire political spectrum.

According to him, ensuring national security should be an absolute priority, and “not the momentary political pride.”

“The Government’s intention to reduce these budgets represents an irresponsible gesture and a serious mistake. We can never play with the citizens’ security, with Romania’s security,” the head of state says

President Iohannis brings to mind that, based on the current legal framework, the budget drafts in the national security area must receive the Supreme Council for National Defence (CSAT) opinion before being approved by the Government.

“In a period marked by multiple unpredictability challenges, Romania is today a sustainable, secure country, acknowledged as such and respected by the partners in NATO and the EU, a country actually contributing to consolidating security in the region. This was possible also because Romania’s Army, the Interior Ministry’s forces, the intelligence and protection services have responsibly done their job. The Government and the entire political class have the obligation to further support these efforts. When Romania’s interest is at stake, not only the present one, but our long-term interest, reducing the national security area budgets would mean an attack on Romanians’ security,” Iohannis believes.

President Iohannis says that in respect to education and research, too, it is essential that the allotted budget reflect the importance of these areas to Romania’s future, including the necessary amounts to cover all salary and scholarship increases that have been announced, but also to support the increase in the education quality and the performance in research – development – innovation.

“An educated Romania requires, in the first place, granting the due attention to budget allocations,” the head of state concludes.

 

On Friday, Parliament could also debate Klaus Iohannis’s letter on referendum topic

 

The Standing Bureaus of the Lower Chamber and the Senate could debate, on Friday, President Klaus Iohannis’s letter on the holding of a referendum on the modification of judicial laws, political sources told Mediafax.

The introduction of this point on the order of the day was not certain on Thursday, considering that at this moment the Chambers are in an extraordinary session and they will be convened in ordinary sessions, the activity being “interlaid,” the sources pointed out.

On Tuesday, President Klaus Iohannis sent to the Speakers of the two Chambers of Parliament a letter in which he informs them of his decision to trigger a national referendum on the continuation of the fight against corruption and ensuring the integrity of public office.

“Based on Article 90 of the Romanian Constitution and on Article 2 and Article 11 of Law no.3/2000 on the holding of referendums, I intend to ask the people to express, through a referendum, their sovereign will on the following issue of national interest: the continuation of the fight against corruption and ensuring the integrity of public office. Bearing in mind the aforementioned legal stipulations, I am hereby consulting Parliament on the holding of a national referendum on the aforementioned topic,” reads the letter.

According to the Presidency, Prime Minister Sorin Mihai Grindeanu was also informed about the triggering of a national referendum.

 

Tariceanu: Holding a referendum, attitude specific to totalitarian regimes in which the dictator discusses directly with the people

 

On Wednesday, Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu criticised President Klaus Iohannis’s intention to hold a referendum on the continuation of the fight against corruption and ensuring the integrity of public office, an intention he labelled as being specific to totalitarian regimes in which the dictator discusses directly with the people.

“This idea which the president launched, of holding a referendum, is part of another type of attitude, specific to totalitarian regimes in which the dictator discusses directly with the people, over the head of democratic institutions, over the head of Parliament, over the head of political parties. Very many times, these consultations are extremely risky,” Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated, news.ro informs.

The Senate Speaker also criticised the Head of State’s presence at the unauthorised protests last Sunday evening, saying that President Iohannis wants to take Romania outside the constitutional framework.

“Through his latest actions too, he seems to ignore the vote that Romanians cast and he seems to want to lead Romania outside the democratic constitutional framework. The fact that he positions himself at the front of columns of protesters at an unauthorised rally… I believe we all have to respect the democratic constitutional order, that is why we had elections, that is why we have a Parliament,” Tariceanu added.

He labelled Klaus Iohannis’s referendum as an inappropriate initiative.

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