The Senate and the Deputies’ Chamber have convened on Monday in a joint session, the agenda including the presentation of the censure motion initiated by PNL and USR and the debate of the state budget for 2017.
With 340 parliamentarians present in the session, the plenum of the Parliament has started, on Monday, to debate the state budget on 2017 that has been presented by PM Sorin Grindeanu.
Sorin Grindeanu: “It’s an important moment for Romania. The significance of the words in the political statements is replaced by the cold realism of the figures”
PM Sorin Grindeanu stated on Monday, when he presented the state budget for 2017, that the budget is an important moment, when the significance of the words in the political statements is replaced by the cold realism of the figures in the state budget and social insurance bill.
PM Grindeanu tells Parliament 2017 budget deficit will keep below 3 pct of GDP cap
The 2017 budget deficit will keep within the target of 3 percent of GDP, Premier Sorin Grindeanu on Monday told Parliament in the opening of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate plenary sitting.
“The annual budget is definitely an important moment for Romania, for the Government and for Parliament, because all short and medium-term public projects and programs are now being prioritized. It is perhaps the only time when the significance of political rhetoric is replaced by the cold realism of the figures in the state budget and social security budget bill. We can thus contribute to improving the living standard of Romanians in 2017, without claiming however that we can satisfy everybody. The 2017 draft budget is designed on a macroeconomic framework with a GDP of 815.195 billion lei and an economic growth of 5.2 percent. The cash budget deficit is estimated at 2.96 percent of GDP, while the EU-harmonised (ESA) deficit is 2.98 pct of GDP, falling below the deficit target of 3 percent of GDP, as per the Maastricht Treaty,” Grindeanu told the Parliament plenum.
The Prime Minister added that recent estimates by international institutions converge towards “an evolution of economy in 2017 similar to that envisaged when the budget was built.”
“The estimated gross government debt for 2017 is 37.7 pct of GDP and in the 2017 – 2020 medium-term it will be below 40 percent of GDP,” said Grindeanu.
He then went on to present the macroeconomic indicators considered for devising the 2017 budget blueprint. “An average annual inflation of 1.4 pct, an average wage of 2,274 lei and an average leu to euro exchange rate of 4.46,” the Premier said.
The head of the Executive also said that he expects the number of employees to rise by 4.3 percent, while “the unemployment rate is expected to drop to 4.3 percent at the end of 2017.”
Grindeanu also referred to the budget revenues considered for this year. “Budget revenues projected for 2017 are estimated at 254.717 billion lei, respectively 31.3 percent of the GDP. Revenues of the domestic economy represent 232.5 billion lei, namely 28.5pct of the GDP, and funds from the EU and other grantors are estimated at 22.3 billion lei, out of which 12.4 billion lei on agricultural policy, and 9.9 billion lei on cohesion policy and other programs. Budgetary spendings are estimated at 278.817 billion lei, that represents 34.2pct of the GDP,” the Prime Minister specified.
According to him “the staff costs of the consolidated budget represent 63.9 billion lei or 7.8pct of the GDP, and spending on goods and services are estimated at 40.6 billion lei, declining from 2016 by 0.6pct of the GDP.”
The Prime Minister mentioned that “the monetary policy rates remain at the same level as in 2016, about 10 billion lei.”
“Subsidies represent 7.2 billion lei being maintained at the same level as in the previous years 0.9pct of the GDP. The social assistance on the general consolidated budget represents 88.5 billion lei or 10.9pct of the GDP,” he added.
Sorin Grindeanu showed that for the budget of 2017, the investment expenses are estimated at “4.8 of the GDP, increasing by 0.9 percentage points versus 2016”.
Lastly, Grindeanu specified that for 2017, the budget allocations increased for some ministries, taking as example “2pct allocation of the GDP to the Ministry of National Defence, an increase of 52pct compared to the previous year”.
“The Ministry of National Education – 26.2pct growth, Ministry of Health care – 18pct growth, National Health Insurance House [CNAS] – 10.3pct growth, Ministry of Agriculture – 83.2pxt growth, Ministry of Transports – 60.5pct growth,” Prime Minister stated.
Grindeanu emphasized that for the drawing up of the budget it was taken into consideration “the increase of population incomes, increased investments in infrastructure, and reducing taxes.”
“ We want Romania to remain a united and solidary nation”
The Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu stated that the Government should maintain the trust of the local or foreign investors in Romanian economy same as it should implement “investments in infrastructure and measures of the governance program”, adding that Romania must remain “a united and solidary nation”.
“I want to thank everybody who contributed to drawing up this budget draft. I thank both the Members of the Parliament who supported and support this draft, but also those who submitted amendments. The political reasons of those who will vote from a political ground against the budget draft are also important, but even more important is to publicly send correctly the economic an social measurements provided in the draft budget for 2017 to those who designated us to represent. We should maintain the trust of Romanians in the Romanian economy and must maintain the growth of investors and investments in the Romanian economy as much as we should implement all investments in infrastructure and accomplish all the measurements in the governance program, because we want to remain a united and solidary nation”, Sorin Grindeanu also said, in the joint plenary of the Parliament at the end of the presentation of the budget draft for 2017.
The Government has adopted the two bills to be approved in the session of the previous Tuesday. “The budget bill takes into account the actual data of the Romanian economy, the PSD government program and the main public policies on the next four years to ensure Romania’s development” stated Viorel Stefan.
The budget is built on a growth of the GDP of 5.2%, with a fiscal deficit of 3%. The estimated revenues are RON 254.1 billion, and the expenditures will be of RON 278.1 billion. The inflation rate taken into account is 1.4%, and the unemployment rate is 4.3%.
On Friday, the budget received the positive opinions of the specialized Committees, and on Saturday and Sunday, it was debated by the Budget and Finance Committees for preparing the report.
“With the sense of fulfilled duty, and we hope that by tomorrow (e.n. – on Monday) we will have the report of the specialized Committees. Tomorrow afternoon we can start the plenary debates, and we hope that On Tuesday or Wednesday the Budget Law will be ready to be promulgated, to be published in the Official Journal and the other credit release authorities in the country, the territorial and administrative units, the other institutions waiting for this budget, will be able to approve their own budgets and the country will return to normality, because until this budget, the Budget Law for 2017, the entire Romanian public system functions with financial resources at the level of one twelfth of the budget of 2016, which obviously means that they are not covered” sated the Finance minister Viorel Stefan, at the end of the session of the committees that adopted the state budget on Sunday.
Budget and Finance Committee Chairman of the Deputies’ Chamber, Leonardo Badea, stated in his turn that around 25 amendments have been adopted, and they are only allocations.
“5 amendments of the 37 proposed amendments have been adopted in the first day, and around 20 amendments related to the state credit release authorities are subject to our analysis, we analyze them now. They were only allocations, we respected the law because before this, we voted the ceiling indicators, so we fitted in what we set out” stated the PSD MP.
The social insurance budget for 2017, amounting to RON 56.8 billion, has been adopted on Sunday, too, in the joint budget and Finance Committees, the funds being by 8.83% higher than the previous year.
“To ensure a fair standard of living for the pensioners, and in order to avoid the social decrease of an important category of elderly, the government program provides measures to increase the income of these social categories, therefore the social insurance budget has been built with an increase of 8.83% compared to 2016” stated the President of the National House of Pensions, Ileana Ciutean.
On Monday morning, the Budget and Finance Committees made the reports on the two budgets available to the parliamentarians, and then the debates in the joint plenary session have started. The joint session will resume on Tuesday morning and it will continue until the final vote will be given.
Budgets of several credit release authorities approved
The joint plenary meeting of the Deputies’ Chamber and the Senate adopted on Monday, on articles, the draft law of the state budget for 2017. Moreover, so far the budgets of several credit release authorities were approved, among which the Deputies’ Chamber, the Senate, the Court of Auditors and the Ombudsman.
The joint plenary meeting adopted the budget and the annexes of several credit release authorities in the version and with the amendments approved by the budget-finance committees. Therefore, the budgets of the Deputies’ Chamber, the Senate, the High Court of Justice and Cassation, the Constitutional Court, the Legislative Council, the Court of Auditors, the Competition Council, the Ombudsman, the National Council for the Study of Securitate Archives, the National Audiovisual Council of Romania, the Government’s General Secretariat have been voted.
Dragnea: Sometimes Chambers heads won’t lead, but attend debates
Speaker of the Deputies’ Chamber Liviu Dragnea stated on Monday, in the joint plenary meeting of Parliament that the Social Democratic Party (PSD) supports Grindeanu Government, without hesitation, mentioning that there will be situations in which, during the meeting, he and President of the Senate Calin Popescu-Tariceanu won’t be leading, but they will be in the hall, attending the debates.
His clarification came after interim Chairperson of the National Liberal Party (PNL) Raluca Turcan stated she was “stupefied” to notice that the entire Government attended the plenary meeting, but the meeting wasn’t led by the two heads of the Chamber, which “is a sign of defiance” coming from the two of them, a signal that they “stay in hiding so they won’t assume real debates, in the interest of citizens, as the debate on the state budget is.”
“There have been and will be situations when I and the President of the Senate won’t be leading the meeting, but sit in the hall, attending the debates. It’s an old practice that will be continued. I find it hard to understand how one can hide in front of a video camera, even in a plenary meeting hall. I am very interested, beyond any other attack, misinformation and lies, that the debates for the budget take place, because the budget is, in fact the first step for Romania’s development, based on a governance programme, which was legitimated by millions of Romanians. I further say, at this microphone, that I and the party I lead endorse this Government without any hesitation,” Dragnea stated in the joint plenary meeting, in which the draft state budget for 2017 is debated.
Interim Chairperson of the PNL Raluca Turcan accused on Monday, in the debates on the state budget, the heads of the two Chambers of “hiding”, by not leading the Parliament meeting. She requested, in the joint plenary meeting, the resignation of Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu, Speaker of the Deputies Chamber Liviu Dragnea and Justice Minister Florin Iordache.
Both President of the Senate Calin Popescu-Tariceanu and Speaker of the Deputies’ Chamber Liviu Dragnea were present in the beginning of the plenary meeting, but they remained in the hall and not in the presidium. The meeting was led by Deputy Speaker of the Deputies’ Chamber Gabriel Vlase.