Development is not possible without decentralization, President Klaus Iohannis told the debate titled “Modernization, development, decentralization. The local administration speaks up!” organized on Wednesday in the northeastern city of Suceava with representatives of public local authorities.
“For several months now, quite unsurprisingly, we have been hearing again about plans for such a reform, but not even today do we have a realistic analysis of the needs and consequences of decentralization in Romania, as there hasn’t been previously such an analysis either. Some of the recent initiatives caused controversy. I hope those at governing wisely use the lessons of the past and do not discriminate among local public authorities. I say this very openly: there will be no development without decentralisation. Therefore I hope we won’t witness again a new beginning that is left with no finish, and in particular I hope that the same mistakes are not repeated because the policy of the strongest does no longer work,” Iohannis said.
He explained that a decision on decentralization or regionalization should be adopted on the basis of political consensus.
“This extremely important national project can only be accomplished through the active involvement of each of you, not with just one party, one man, a particular ruling line-up, as some try to convince us. The more restricted the groups these things are being implemented in, the deeper the resulting errors and failures and the more serious the consequences will be for the local communities. “Decentralization and modernization of the administration cannot be done against someone, but in order to improve the system. They cannot be done against someone and neither to the benefit of someone in particular. The best solutions can be found only by consensus,” added the President.
He went on to say that the “the simplifying vision of some of the people involved and, above all, the misunderstanding that regionalization and decentralization are nothing else but sharing political influence have led to this failure” of decentralization.
According to Klaus Iohannis, the interests of county political leaders are another reason that sent the debate on regionalization and decentralization into a stalemate.
“The main issues that blocked the debate were the number of regions, the choice of regional leadership structures and the position of the regional capital cities. In other words, the policy of the strongest, a struggle of pride and often petty interests, a confrontation over the adjudication of political interests,” the President emphasized.
“PNDL divided the country into two categories – happy mayors and unhappy mayors – many times, on political criteria”
President Klaus Iohannis stated on Wednesday at a debate that was held in Suceava, that in the recent years, many local investments have been made by the National Program for Local Development (PNDL), but despite the clear benefits, the Program has almost always had a major transparency problem, it divided the country into two categories – happy mayors and unhappy mayors – many times, on political criteria.
“I’d like to bring to your attention the issue of the resources you manage. You have all benefited both from public funds and from European funds. You built or rebuilt hospitals, dispensaries, schools, roads. In the recent years, many of these objectives have been achieved through a well-known instrument, the so-called PNDL, the National Program for Local Development. And despite the clear benefits, the Program has almost always had a major transparency problem, it divided the country into two categories: happy mayors and unhappy mayors, beneficiaries of the Program or eliminated from the Program list, many times on political criteria” Iohannis stated at a debate with local authorities in Suceava County.
He mentioned that, as he was informed, those in the room are representatives of the parties who were in power and in opposition, and thus he believes that they were “both happy and less happy”.
“Consequently, we can all agree that it is time to realize that we need coherent and responsible policies which transcend political color, and that it is understood that, first of all, all the adopted measures will, affect millions of Romanians”, the President underlined.
In the context of the discussion on resources, the Head of State referred to the transport infrastructure, a serious problem of the North-East region, and particularly of Suceava County.
“As you know, Moldavia is currently defined by zero kilometers of highway, which continues to make a number of economic opportunities and foreign investments to be kept away. It’s a sad truth that the North-East region absorbs only around 6% of the total of the direct foreign investments made in Romania. As many counties of the country, the poor road infrastructure showed its negative consequences, which affect all the economic sectors, including exports. For instance, the exports of the North-East region were systematically placed under 5% of Romania’s total exports”, Iohannis stated.
However, Klaus Iohannis expressed his belief that Suceava, as many other counties in the region, has a development potential, but he underlined that the lack of the infrastructure is a serious impediment for development, for attracting investments and promoting tourism and culture.
“If we had a coherent plan and not only a plan that was drawn up for four years, respected contracts and achieved completion deadlines, we wouldn’t have been where we are today. I believe there is a need for involvement here, too. If you will not ask for your legitimate right as the second county of the country, the governors will probably continue to forget about you”, told the President to the participants.
“None of the governments after 1990 have understood the importance of large infrastructure”
None of the governments we used to have after 1990 understood the importance of the large infrastructure, on Wednesday said in northeastern Suceava president Klaus Iohannis, at a debate on “Modernisation, development, decentralisation. Here speaks the local administration!”
Iohannis added that without a large infrastructure, no such progress will take place in Moldavia.
“None of the governments we used to have after 1990 understood the importance of the large infrastructure for the development of a region. Without a motorway in Moldavia … what are we talking about?! What infrastructure are we talking about?! We look totally unreliable,” asserted Iohannis.
The head of the state also stressed the need to upgrade the rail transport in Romania.
“It is not possible to see that in other countries the rail transport is hugely developing and that talks are about large networks of TGVs, and we, here are talking that the low-speed passenger train is not working anymore. We are so much behind due to this lack of vision from the governments so that decades are needed to catch Europe,” Iohannis concluded.