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September 29, 2020

Finance Minister: I’m nervous about budget expenditures after first five months

Finance Minister Viorel Stefan stated at a press conference on Tuesday that he is nervous in what concerns the level of budget expenditures after the first five months, but he believes the budget will remain balanced, considering the Government needs resources, particularly in the second half of the year when the process of drawing European grants will be accelerated.

The general consolidated budget closed the first four months of this year with a surplus of RON 1.35 billion, representing 0.17 percent of GDP, a significant hike compared to last year when the budget was almost in equilibrium, the expenditures’ growth rate being surpassed by the growth in revenues, the Finance Ministry data published last month show. Asked about the budget execution after the first five months, Stefan emphasised he lacks a precise picture, considering that the data will be finalised on the 25th this month, but added he is nervous in what concerns revenues. “The first clues point out we are on track on the revenue side. I’m nervous, I confess, (…) about the expenditures. In the end, I’m interested in the difference between revenues and expenditures. It’s premature to tell you today how we’ll close. Definitely, in the first five months, we will remain within a budget equilibrium,” Stefan said. He emphasised that this budget equilibrium is important especially in the second half of the year, when the Government will need resources to accelerate the absorption of European grants, which represents “a top priority” at any rate. Labour Minister Olguta Vasilescu stated at the Palace of Parliament on Tuesday that the latest variant of the salary law, a variant agreed with the Finance Ministry, stipulates that all public sector employees will have their gross salaries hiked by 25 percent on 1 January 2018 and that teachers and physicians will receive the promised difference starting on March 1st. At first, the first salary hikes were scheduled for 1 July 2017. The Grindeanu Government built the 2017 budget on estimated revenues of RON 254.7 billion, up by 14 percent year-on-year, and also staked on the acceleration of European grants absorption, and on expenditures of RON 278.8 billion, up by 15 percent year-on-year.

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