President Klaus Iohannis’s press statement, in which he attacked the Government on the topic of the absorption of European grants and the Pillar II Pension Fund, triggered on Tuesday evening the prompt reactions of the members of the Dancila Cabinet and of the ruling coalition, who accused Iohannis of instigation and disinformation. On Wednesday, Premier Dancila and Deputy Premier Paul Stanescu publicly answered the President, pointing out that the funds needed for the payment of pensions and salaries exist.
PM Dancila to Iohannis: I would like us not to create concerns. There certainly is money
On Wednesday, Premier Viorica Dancila stated that there are funds for the payment of pensions and salaries and that she does not want to create gratuitous concerns. The statement came after the Head of State had asked the Government whether the said funds will last until the end of the year.
“There certainly is money for pensions and salaries, and I would like us not to create concerns. There is money for salaries and pensions. The President can say that, it’s his opinion. (…) 2016 didn’t have accredited management authorities. We set off from 0 absorption and we have 16 percent, compared to the European average of 18 percent. We have countries such as Germany or Italy behind us. We have made great efforts together with the European Grants Minister and the other ministers. The President referred to 2014-2020,” Premier Viorica Dancila said.
Asked whether she should discuss the situation with the Head of State, Dancila said: “I can’t take the liberty to be the one who invites the President to a discussion.”
“Unfortunately, even the members of PSD contradict themselves: it’s being abolished – it’s not; it’s being suspended – it’s not; it’s an assumed bill – it’s not. A complete mess. People are wondering why did the PSD create this uncertainty, what is their target? They didn’t agree on it? Hard to believe. Some are wondering whether the money will be used elsewhere if Pillar II is suspended. They must give us an answer. I believe the Government and the PSD must give the public a well-informed answer to two questions: What are your plans for the Pillar II Pension Fund? Do you still have money for pensions and salaries until the end of the year?” President Klaus Iohannis stated on Tuesday.
The Head of State warned the Dancila Government about the absorption of European grants too, against the backdrop of European Commission data which show that our country has used EUR 2 billion out of the EUR 23 billion allocated to it in the form of structural funds.
Stanescu after Iohannis asks Gov’t whether it still has money for pensions: He’s misinformed
Deputy Premier Paul Stanescu stated on Wednesday, after Klaus Iohannis asked the Government to state whether it still has funds for the payment of pensions and salaries, that by doing so the President proves he is misinformed.
“There is money for pensions, the Finance Minister told you this too. I believe he [the President] is misinformed,” Deputy PM Paul Stanescu said.
Paul Stanescu added that PSD never discussed the abolishment of the Pillar II Pension Fund, the discussion being generated by the Prognosis Commission.
“The suspension of the Pillar II Pension Fund was never considered. It was only a proposal from the Prognosis Commission, as you know, and, moreover, in my opinion the Government must explain very well what the Pillar II Pension Fund means. I would like to know whether my pension will be higher or lower, the Government should explain to me, and Ms Olguta Vasilescu will probably explain in the upcoming period, so that I would know whether I’ll have a higher or lower pension if I’m [enrolled] in the Pillar II Pension Fund. This must be optional. The discussion started from an unfortunate Prognosis Commission communication,” the Deputy Premier said.
He stated that the PSD will consult ALDE in what concerns the Pillar II Pension Fund, claiming that doing so was not necessary before.
“I don’t know how the system will be. We will discuss with ALDE, we are in coalition; so far we had nothing [to discuss] because this wasn’t a topic,” the PSD Vice President added.
Finance Minister: No kind of danger for pensions and salaries this year
Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici claims that there is no kind of danger in what concerns the payment of salaries and pensions this year, thus responding to President Klaus Iohannis, who asked the Government to say whether its funds for salaries and pensions will last until the end of the year.
In a phone interview with Antena3, the Finance Minister said that all payments are included in the budget this year.
“For this year, all payments are in the budget. There is no kind of danger for pensions and salaries this year. Absolutely none. A left-wing government will not affect the population’s incomes under any circumstances. Let this be clear for all those trying to induce the idea that this Government doesn’t have the money or would cut something. (…) These public discussions are also affecting our financing cost,” Eugen Teodorovici stated.
Rovana Plumb: Nothing was done in 2016, in 2017 we revved up the engines to the maximum in what concerns the absorption of European grants
European Grants Minister Rovana Plumb stated on Tuesday that in 2017 the PSD Government “revved up the engines to the maximum” in what concerns the absorption of European grants, her answer coming against the backdrop of the criticism that the Head of State levelled against the Executive on this topic.
“Nothing was done in 2016; in 2017 we revved up the engines to the maximum. (…) It would have been very useful for Romania if Mr Iohannis had come out with these warnings in 2016. In 2017 we made up for a delay of one year. A year that should be struck out of the [financial] framework in my view. Because there is no 2016,” Rovana Plumb told Antena3.
The European Grants Minister also answered President Iohannis in what concerns the posting of up-to-date figures on the absorption of European grants, Rovana Plumb pointing out that she made the latest update on May 8.
“I can tell you the up-to-date figures. We have 16 percent absorption rate, compared to 18 percent the European average. A Government that works in tension and under pressure cannot have maximum efficiency,” Rovana Plumb added.
Labour Minister: Who promulgated the Budget Law? He no longer knows what he signed?
In a Facebook posting, Labour Minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu rhetorically asks – in response to President Klaus Iohannis’s statements – who promulgated the budget law several months ago and whether the Head of State no longer knows what he signed.
“Klaus Iohannis: ‘Do you still have money for pensions and salaries?’ Well, who promulgated the State Budget Law several months ago? He no longer knows what he signed?” Labour Minister Lia Olguta Vasilescu wrote on Facebook on Tuesday evening.
Florin Citu, PNL: Money for pensions and salaries not included in the budget
On Wednesday, PNL Senator Florin Citu wrote on Facebook that the money for pensions and salaries is not included in the current budget, that the Government lives on debt, borrowing money every month to cover the country’s current expenditures.
“The Social Democrats are lying when they say they have the money for pensions and salaries! No. The money for pensions and salaries is not included in the budget! Each month the Government is borrowing at the highest interest rates in the EU in order to obtain the money for pensions and salaries. In the first quarter, RON 5 billion was needed. Money borrowed with interest. This irresponsible behaviour on the part of these Governments chockfull of incompetents is paid by the future generations and by today’s private sector, harassed by ANAF [Romanian Tax Authority], excises and red tape,” Florin Citu wrote on Facebook.
Citu claims that, even though money for pensions and salaries are included in the budget, the revenues do not exist yet, pending their collection or the contracting of loans.
“The Social Democrats are lying when they say they have money for pensions and salaries! No. The money for pensions and salaries is not included in the budget! Expenditures on pensions and salaries are included in the budget, and the revenues needed for their payment are estimated. These revenues do not exist yet. They must be collected or borrowed. When we draw the line, we see that in 2017 the Government borrowed approximately RON 25 billion and cut expenditures on investments by RON 20 billion in order to be able to pay the pensions and salaries. Over two thirds of budget expenditures are for pensions and salaries, hence the financing problems,” the PNL Senator added.
ALDE Vice President Vosganian: Klaus Iohannis is becoming an instigator
ALDE Vice President Varujan Vosganian responded to President Klaus Iohannis on Tuesday evening, stating that the Head of State is becoming an instigator because he instigates Romanians with false topics.
“Klaus Iohannis is becoming an instigator, which causes him to completely cross the limits that the Constitution establishes. That he is against the PSD, that he is against the Government… but this way ending up being against his own people, instigating it with false topics… that’s impermissible. Fortunately for him, Iohannis does not deserve being impeached, because it would mean doing him a great favour ahead of the elections year,” ALDE Vice President Varujan Vosganian told Mediafax.
He added that no Government can afford to not pay pensions.
“Traian Basescu learned this lesson with a vengeance, when he wanted to cut pensions and the CCR immediately denied him. Pensions are the people’s right, and nobody can take away the right to pension. Asking whether there is money for pensions is a completely inappropriate question,” Vosganian added.