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September 26, 2020
POLITICS

Lower House: Administrative Code bill to be voted on next Monday

The Administrative Code bill will be voted on in the Lower House’s plenary sitting, next Monday.

On Thursday, general debates were held on the bill.

Florin Iordache, chairman of the meeting, announced that the debates on articles and the final vote on the Administrative Code will be held on Monday.

 

Debates on Administrative Code: Opposition disagrees with bill, will file challenge at CCR; PSD-ALDE coalition says the initiative will render the administration efficient

 

The bill debated on Thursday stipulates, among others, that the mayors, deputy mayors, county council chairmen and county council deputy chairmen elected since 1992 should receive special pensions within the limit of three terms in office and, likewise, can be authorised natural persons or can have sole proprietorships or family owned and operated enterprises. The Opposition criticised the bill, complaining of “the dismantling of public office” and said it will attack it at the Constitutional Court, while PSD claimed that the bill is the expression of the ruling coalition’s desire to render the administration efficient.

The bill will be put up for final vote next Monday within the Lower House, the Chamber that has the last say.

House lawmaker Paul Dobre (PNL) claimed that the Administrative Code is one of the most important laws for the functioning of the country, but PSD-ALDE have “dismantled” the public office through the amendments brought to the legislation.

“Today we begin the debate on one of the most important laws for the functioning of the country. Beyond all systems, the public administration, both central and local, is the structure of resistance of the Romanian state. After 1989, a series of laws were successively adopted, modifying the administration compared to the old socialist-communist system. (…) I believe the bill initially presented was much better than the one that is now entering the debate. And that’s because during the debate that took place before it entered the Senate, within the special committee, the PSD parliamentary group, but also the colleagues from ALDE, have basically dismantled an extremely sensitive and important part of this body, namely the public office. After 25 years of efforts, programmes, important financings – EU, World Bank –, with this Code we are abolishing the National Agency of Civil Servants. What’s left is the building, the director, the doorman and a mailbox. Unfortunately, this brutal intervention on the part of our colleagues from the coalition allows, through this Code, the politicisation of the administration beyond a normal and natural level. In English the term is ‘public servant,’ because they are in the service of the citizen, not of the temporary elected official. The vision of our colleagues from the majority is precisely the opposite,” Dobre said.

PMP President Eugen Tomac pointed out that he disagrees with offering local elected officials special pensions and a different statute than that of the rest of the citizens.

“I want to state here, today, that we are witnessing a national fix. What is happening at this hour is an issue as clear as possible, namely there is an agreement for Parliament to cast today a vote that would give local elected officials a statute different from that of the rest of the citizens. I have understood that the fatigue here regarding the role that we are having is justified. We do not understand that the office of public dignity, of elected official, is an honour that society bestows upon us. We want special pensions. I am categorically against the idea of having special pensions and I am categorically against the idea that any elected official should have a special pension, a statute different from that of the rest of the citizens. It is an honour for us that in this country citizens delegate power to the elected. We must not create privileged categories of advantages that we can fructify through the vote we cast in Parliament. PMP is against the idea of creating special pensions. (…) PMP, along with the other Opposition parties, will challenge this anti-Romanian Administrative Code at the CCR,” Eugen Tomac said.

House lawmaker Attila Korodi (UDMR) claimed that the bill will have an impact that will “substantially reform the relationship between the Romanian state and the citizen,” announcing that UDMR will vote for the initiative.

“Today we are at a turning point for the Romanian local administration. We have before us an Administrative Code whose impact will substantially reform the relationship between the Romanian state and the citizen. We have before us a bill that gets us closer to what the state represents in the 21st century. The Romanian local administration will become more modern, closer to the citizen, more efficient in solving the day-to-day problems of the people. (…) Thanks to the contribution of all parliamentary parties, we have managed to improve, to develop the initial form of the proposal. Today we have the chance to give an impetus for Romania to continue along the road of development, of decentralisation. Consequently, UDMR will vote in favour of adopting the new Administrative Code,” Korodi said.

House lawmaker Niculae Halici (PSD) added that this Administrative Code represents PSD-ALDE’s desire to render the administration efficient.

“In what concerns civil servants and their statute, here very many things have changed, in the sense of determining and managing to render the corps of civil servants efficient and professional. They will undergo annual written assessments, and those who have the training and efficiency demanded by the leaders of the public institutions in office that year will stay, those who do not will leave. (…) The PSD-ALDE coalition’s desire is in fact to render the administration efficient, be it central or local. (…) The citizen’s interest is in daily life, in contact with the administration we have been complaining about for so long and for which we haven’t done very many things except coming up – each legislature, each Government – and adding an ordinance, a decision, a section, an article, and it only served to increase red tape and to make the activity of civil servants and dignitaries harder,” Niculae Halici explained.

House lawmaker Nicusor Dan (USR) said that this Administrative Code is “a step forward and five steps back.” He criticised the fact that the county prefect is transformed into a politician, and a mayor gets away with delegating a prerogative to a director.

“The Administrative Code is indeed a step forward, and the representative of the Development Ministry must be congratulated for the fact that many legislative acts have been brought together into a single one. It was consistent work and in appearance we are taking a step forward, but, in essence, we are taking five large steps back. Today we are taking a step back – we turn the prefect into a politician. (…) We would have had the possibility to make at least the secretary of the prefect independent from the prefect so as to handle this issue of legality, however through the Administrative Code we give him managerial prerogatives and we make him explicitly subordinate to the prefect. (…) A mayor who delegates a prerogative to a director is no longer accountable. We make it so that the mayor would no longer be accountable for what is happening within the city hall he leads,” Nicusor Dan said.

The special committee on the Administrative Code, chaired by House lawmaker Marcel Ciolacu (PSD), issued in early June a favourable report on all the amendments brought. The members of PSD, PNL, ALDE and UDMR voted in favour of the amendments, while USR abstained.

“The persons who, since 1992, have been elected by citizens, through universal, equal, direct and secret vote, and through secret indirect and freely expressed vote respectively, namely mayors, deputy mayors, county council chairmen and county council deputy chairmen, and who meet the requirements of the standard retirement age and of the reduced standard retirement age as stipulated by Law no.263/2010 on the single public pensions system, with subsequent amendments and supplementations, or those stipulated by special laws, have the right, the moment their terms in office end, to collect an indemnity for age limit starting from the date on which their pension rights for standard retirement age are offered, but no sooner than the date on which their ongoing term in office ends,” reads the amendment adopted within the committee.

Another amendment allows local elected officials to be authorised natural persons or persons that have sole proprietorships or family owned and operated enterprises.

Likewise, according to the bill, the indemnity for age limit is offered within the limit of three terms and is calculated by multiplying the number of months in office by 0.40 percent of the gross monthly indemnity paid.

At the same time, for incomplete terms in office, the age limit indemnity is calculated proportionally with the time actually spent in office, but not less than a full term in office. The age limit indemnity is cumulated with any type of pension established within the public pensions system or any other pension system not integrated within the public system.

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