POLITICS

Party financing law, amended: Money obtained illegally can no longer be confiscated

The Lower House adopted on Wednesday a bill amending the law on campaign contributions and the financing of political parties, so that the sums of money obtained in violation of legal provisions will no longer be confiscated and transformed into budget revenue.

The bill adopted by the Lower House modifies the law on campaign contributions and the financing of political parties, abrogating the articles according to which sums of money received in violation of legal provisions are to be confiscated and turned into budget revenues. The amendments operating this change were drafted by PSD MPs.

Another amendment brought stipulates that “in the cases mentioned under Article 51, Paragraph (1), point 1, 5-8, 20, 29 and 30, and under Paragraph (2), point 21, the objects of confiscation are only the sums of money that surpass the maximum limits stipulated by law for donations, loans, campaign contributions and expenses, except for unused sums of money.”

Also at PSD’s proposal, the budget funds allocated yearly for political parties should total at least 0.01 percent of GDP and at most 0.04 percent of GDP, while in the case of political parties that promote women on eligible places on electoral lists the budget funds allocated will be hiked proportionally to the number of seats won by female candidates. In the form subjected to amendment, the law was stipulating that the funds allocated yearly for political parties cannot surpass 0.04 percent of budget revenues.

Another article adopted stipulates that a political party’s failure to use – during the period stipulated by law – the sums of money received as donations for the purchase of buildings used as party headquarters represents a contravention (if committed in circumstances that do not make it an offence) and is finable from RON 100,000 to RON 200,000.

Lower House members have decided that each year, by April 30, political parties have the obligation to lodge with the Standing Electoral Authority “a synthesis report” on the revenues and expenditures registered during the previous year, not “a detailed report” as previously stipulated by the amended law.

In the current form, the Standing Electoral Authority (AEP) has the mission to ensure the organising and holding of elections and referendums, as well as to guide political parties, political alliances, electoral alliances, as well as independent candidates in observing the laws and international standards in this field. “In exercising its oversight role, the activity of prevention and guidance prevails over its censuring role,” reads an amendment drafted by PSD Lower House member Mircea Draghici.

Save Romanian Union (USR) lawmakers announced within the plenum that they will challenge the bill at the Constitutional Court of Romania (CCR).

The Lower House is the decisional body.

 

UDMR bill lowering to 10 pc the demographic threshold for the use of maternal language in public administration, rejected. Debate marred by controversies

 

The Lower House rejected on Wednesday the bill tabled by the Democratic Union of Magyars in Romania (UDMR), a bill intended to lower, from 20 to 10 percent, the demographic threshold for the use of the maternal languages of ethnic minorities in the public administration. Prior to that, the Judiciary Committee and the Administration Committee had rejected, with a majority of votes, the bill tabled by UDMR.

The bill was rejected by the plenum in a 256-21 vote.

According to the rejected bill, in administrative units in which citizens belonging to national minorities represented more than 10 percent of the total population, local public authorities, public institutions subordinated to them, the providers of public services and public utility services of a local or county interest, as well as prefectures, decentralised public services belonging to ministries and to other central public administration bodies from territorial-administrative units have the obligation to use the national minorities’ maternal language in their rapports with them, in line with the procedures of the Constitution, of the law currently in force and of international treaties whose signatory Romania is.

The Senate is the decisive House.

The proposal to reject the bill as a whole came from the parliamentary Opposition and was adopted with a majority of votes, even though UDMR Lower House member Marton Arpad proposed that the bill should be debated article by article.

Earlier on Wednesday, within Parliament’s committees, UDMR claimed that the bill seeks to clarify provisions “ratified within the Charter and the Constitution.” PNL stated that Romania is given as an example when it comes to the observance of minority rights, while USR stated that the bill was presented in “an extremely unfortunate” manner.

UDMR Lower House member Marton Arpad stated that the bill on the lowering – from 20 to 10 percent – of the demographic threshold for the use of the national minorities’ maternal languages in their relations with public administration seeks to clarify provisions that “are clearly ratified in the Charter and in the Constitution.”

“In the field, I noticed that in various territorial-administrative units the situations in which the use of the maternal language, the use of public signs in those minority languages – which are the elements on which inscriptions can be used –, is mandatory are interpreted in all sorts of ways, even reaching the point in which court rulings are issued to invalidate and punish, in order to use a language of a national minority, as stipulated in the Charter ratified by Romania. Consequently, in order to clarify these elements, we tried to exhaustively put in writing all those situations that stem from the Charter and the Romanian Constitution,” UDMR MP Marton Arpad stated.

PNL claimed that Romania is given as an example of good practices when it comes to the protection of minorities.

“Romania is given as an example of good practices in what the protection of minorities means. (…) We’re talking about a proposal, an attempt that cannot surpass the sphere of the Romanian Constitution. (…) PNL will propose a negative report on the bill and I believe that alongside all Romanians in the country and abroad, regardless of their ethnicity, we will be able to enjoy the Centenary – the biggest holiday of all Romanians,” PNL Lower House member Florin Roman said, referring to the fact that UDMR MPs previously publicly stated that the Centenary is a year of mourning.

USR Lower House member Tudor Benga stated that UDMR brought this bill in the public space in “an extremely unfortunate” manner.

“However, the problem is that UDMR has chosen to bring this bill in the public space in an extremely unfortunate manner for the relations between communities. This bill appeared and entered the public debate and was almost forced to pass at a moment in which the parliamentary majority led by a criminally convicted man is fighting to save its skin,” the USR MP said.

The USR MP’s statement was censured by Judiciary Committee Chairman Eugen Nicolicea (PSD), who cut off the Opposition lawmaker’s microphone.

“I’m asking you to behave like a Lower House member, not to embarrass Parliament. I’ll be forced to censure you, and I will,” Nicolicea said. USR left the room shortly thereafter.

National minority representatives did not endorse UDMR’s bill either.

“We voted yesterday, within the group of national minorities, to reject the bill. (…) Lowering the threshold to 10 percent is unconstitutional; it’s 20 percent all over Europe. (…) We consider that Romania has offered us, minorities, sufficient rights, and we are pleased with what the Romanian state has offered us,” Lower House member Mariana Popescu said.

 

Unqualified healthcare motion lodged by PNL, USR, PMP with Chamber of Deputies

 

Floor leader of the National Liberal Party (PNL) in the Lower House Raluca Turcan on Wednesday announced that an unqualified healthcare motion was submitted, sponsored by the PNL, the Save Romanian Union (USR) and the People’s Movement Party (PMP).

The motion is titled “The Social Democratic Party (PSD) is bad for health”.

Turcan argued that Prime Minister Mihai Tudose should dismiss Health Minister Florian Bodog.

“Problems in the healthcare system are serious; unfortunately, they are getting worse by the day. The vaccine crisis does not have a long-term solution at this time; there is no vaccination schedule, there is no vaccination law, and there are no vaccine stocks either. Children have returned to collective settings and, unfortunately, not all of them were immunised against serious illnesses,” Turcan said.

She added that a problem in the healthcare system is “the chaos of wages,” noting that employees are currently protesting in the streets and, despite the announced increases, there is a risk that their incomes will decline to 2009 levels.

“The construction of three emergency clinical hospitals in Cluj, Craiova and Iasi is ticked off and forgotten. (…) For these painful realities of this Government, and only for those mentioned above, Prime Minister Tudose should dismiss Minister Bodog, and the Ministry of Health should cease being public enemy number one in Romania,” said Turcan.

The Standing Bureau of the Lower House is to decide on a plenary debate on the motion.

 

Simple motion on transport infrastructure rejected by the plenary

 

The simple motion initiated by the National Liberal Party (PNL) and the Save Romania Union (USR) regarding the transport infrastructure was rejected on Wednesday by the Lower House in a 115-104 vote.

PNL and USR MPs who signed the censure motion called “Romania’s transport infrastructure under the reign of PSD’s [Social Democratic Party] interests. Disillusion, demagogy and discouragement,” asked Prime Minister Mihai Tudose to remove Transport Minister Razvan Cuc from office and demanded some measures be taken in this area.

According to the motion’s signatories, the Transport Minister has “choked” a ministry that needed a vision, and has blocked investments in transport infrastructure which the country needed, namely highways, railways, air ways, waterways.”

 

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