*The discrepancies between rural and urban are increasingly bigger
Present on Monday at the General Assembly of the Association of Romania’s Communes, Premier Sorin Grindeanu told the participating mayors that he expects them at the Government, stating that “things other than protests are still taking place at the Victoria Palace.”
“I’m waiting for you at the Government, things other than protests are still taking place at the Victoria Palace. We are continuing to work, we want to and we will implement the governing platform, but we can do these things only in a dialogue with you, local elected officials, with everything entailed by openness toward the local public administration. Yes, we will have the public sector salary law. We did some things, not few, during these six weeks in office. Many of which are being felt in the Romanians’ day-to-day life. Apart from what was said, the hiking of local public administration salaries, the hiking of pensions, of the minimum salary, etc. What was mentioned earlier is very important, namely that through the public sector salary law the level of mayors’ salaries would be exactly the one needed and deserved,” Grindeanu told the mayors present at the General Assembly of Romania’s Communes.
He stated he will have a state advisor who will deal solely with local communities and the problems that local communities are having.
“Twenty years have passed, twenty years in which very many things happened, but 47 percent of Romania’s population continues to live in rural areas. Almost 80 percent of the territory, or more than 80 percent of the territory is being administered by you, by communes. Very many things have changed, but as Mr Dragnea was saying, in very many instances, we continue to seemingly have two Romanias. An urban Romania and a rural Romania. The discrepancies between rural and urban are increasingly bigger. We have Romanians who are living in line with Western standards, but we continue to have Romanians who have no water and sewerage, no asphalt, the education system falls short. We must be honest and realistic in everything we say and we must offer the young and the people the same chance in life, regardless of the place they are born. You should know I know these things very well because I come from local public administration. I was deputy mayor for four years, chairman of county council for six months,” the Premier said.
Dragnea: Public administration should overcome paralysis; those not stealing should work peacefully
Speaker of the Lower Chamber Liviu Dragnea said Monday that Romania’s public administration should overcome paralysis, insisting that it is inadmissible for a mayor to know he or she does not breach any law but to lack the peace of mind for not knowing what they may and may not do.
“There has been talk going on for years about what mayors, politicians and ministers holding offices do. The most important thing is for legislation to be clear. Each of you want to know the answer to a simple question: what am I and what am I not allowed to do? Because it is inadmissible for a mayor, a minister or someone running a public institution to know they do not violate any law, yet they cannot have the peace of mind. That does not happen anywhere else, in any other country. Legislation is clear and when being clear but violated, the offender pays. I want to know what I am allowed to do and what I am not allowed to do, so that I will not wake up someday to someone telling me I have not violated any law, but I did something wrong,” Dragnea told a convention of the General Assembly of the Association of Romania’s Communes.
He urged legislation should be made clearer so that only those stealing would have to be afraid, while those who do not and who are not corrupted would be offered the opportunity to live and work in peace.
Dragnea also said a clear distinction must be made between legality and advisability, which Parliament will do, “irrespective of pressures.”
“Advisability belongs to the [officials] elected or legitimately appointed as part of a democratic process. Advisability is given by the legitimacy of voting, the obligations pledged while campaigning and the freedom to make decisions jointly with the local council so as to develop the community as seen fit by the local council elected by the people. Too many institutions pontificate on advisability: why did you build that road instead of this one? Everybody must understand that Romania’s public administration must overcome this state of paralysis. There are public servants afraid of signing documents, mayors who do not know if what they are doing today would be reinterpreted in one year or ten years’ time, and there are business people afraid of talking to mayors or state officials in Romania, and I mean Romanian business people, because the rest have no problems,” said Dragnea.
He pointed out that Romania has over 20,000 laws and opined that nobody knows them all.
In this sense, Dragnea pointed out that Parliament will work on codifying the legislation.
“We will work in Parliament on the public Administration code, the public finances [Code], the incompatibilities [code], for them to be clear,” Dragnea added.
Public sector salary law expected in Parliament in 2-3 weeks’ time, to come into force on July 1
Speaker of the Lower Chamber Liviu Dragnea announced that the public sector salary law will reach Parliament in two-three weeks’ time, adding that there is certain hurriedness about it to allow for enough time for the law to return and be challenged with the Constitutional Court.
“As far as the public sector salary law is concerned, I know from the Prime Minister and madam minister that they will come to us in Parliament with the law in two-three weeks. We in Parliament are ready, but there must be a very serious conversation with the social partners. The law is included in the government platform and slated to come into force on July 1. I want us to hurry up because we have already experienced and started to get used to hurrying to pass any law in Parliament to allow for the time to return and be challenged with the Constitutional Court,” Dragnea told a convention on Monday of the Association of Romania’s Communes.
He reasserted PSD’s wish for the public sector salary law to come into force on July 1.
Senate Speaker Tariceanu backs creation of new state bank, to fund local communities’ projects
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu-Tariceanu proposed on Monday, on the occasion of the 20th ordinary session of the General Assembly of the Association of Communes in Romania, the creation of a state bank that would fund local communities’ projects.
“I want to launch an idea and a reflection theme, especially for the Government, for Mr Prime Minister Grindeanu, namely – out of the Development Sovereign Fund to consider, maybe, the creation of a second state bank, in addition to CEC Bank, whose main aim would be the financing of local communities’ projects. Surely, CEC, to some extent, already does this. I am taking into account that not all localities have sufficient resources to engage in major projects for their community,” the Senate President said.
Tariceanu stressed that people want to live better now, not in 20 or 40 years’ time.
“Therefore, a development effort is needed, an effort to put into place projects that would change their quality of life now, as soon as possible, and this is, if you want, the objective necessity, to have access to affordable funding, to a bank that knows these issues, that has specialized departments, not like any other commercial bank, which – when you come with a funding dossier – looks at you: ‘What, us taking that risk? Never mind, I would better buy government bonds instead, it is safer. The bank earns and we all mind our own business, the shareholders are happy. Why would I lend money to a village, two, ten of Romania and after that bother to track the project, to retrieve my money?'” he added.
In Romania, everybody is jabbering about corruption, from dawn to dusk
Senate Speaker Calin Popescu Tariceanu stated on Monday that in Romania “everybody is jabbering about corruption,” against the backdrop in which he praised the Government for raising salaries within the administration and claimed that there should be a direct link between salary levels and the quality of administration.
“Everybody in Romania is jabbering about corruption. From dawn to dusk, they keep talking about corruption. Everyone is concerned about the effects of corruption, nobody talks about the causes of corruption in Romania. I believe that if we want to have an administration of good quality, with well-trained people, we cannot imagine we could pay them poorly and have performance. This idea didn’t work in communism either. So, there must be a direct link between salary levels and the quality of administration,” Calin Popescu Tariceanu said at the Assembly of Romanian Communes.
He praised the Government led by Sorin Grindeanu for raising the salaries of those working in local administration.
“In Romania, there has been a witch hunt for several years now. Very many mayors had to go through probes that were extremely unpleasant for them because they damaged their public image. In the end, very many of them turned out to be innocent. But they went through this parade before cameras, one we have been seeing for several years now, and whose goal seems to be humiliating some people and destroying the Romanian elites,” Tariceanu added.
President of ACoR proposes pact for local autonomy
The President of the Association of Communes of Romania (ACoR), Emil Draghici, spoke on Monday, during ACoR’s twentieth ordinary session, about joining the efforts of the associations representing local authorities, but also about creating a pact for local autonomy.
“We want to combine our efforts with the other associative structures. Not against the government – so that together with its members, to find solutions to the problems faced by the local communities and the local public administration authorities. Is this not the way forward, in a society worthy of the 20th century’s second decade end ? We have tried to express our receptivity, by signing the partnership agreement, one side and the other. However, the governmental ruptures take us each time to ground zero. I was saying last year, on July 4, 2016, at the Public Administration Forum, that I have attended too many unstarted endings or barely started, but never to beginnings that have had continuations. (…) We cherish the belief that the present Government will fully manifest the will to continue something started in 2013, by signing here, in front of you, a partnership agreement, which would consecrate priorities and solutions with deadlines and progress reports,” said Draghici.
On the occasion of ACoR’s twentieth jubilee ordinary session, the City Mayors who have had so far, seven mandates in the forefront of local communities, received the trophies for “seven stars mayors”. These were handed by Deputy Prime Minister Sevil Shhaideh, Minister of Regional Development.
According to ACoR’s status, the number of stars are granted based on the number of mandates obtained by each mayor.