Municipality mayors, convened within the Association of Romanian Municipalities, announced on Wednesday that they will go to the Government because the Finance Ministry did not reply to their request for the local administration to receive a third of the national budget. At the Government they met Premier Viorica Dancila. Bucharest District 3 Mayor Robert Negoita, Cluj Mayor Emil Boc and Arad Mayor Gheorghe Falca – members of the Association of Romanian Municipalities – and Bucharest Mayor Gabriela Firea took part in the talks with Premier Viorica Dancila, which focused on the budget.
On Wednesday afternoon, the municipality mayors arrived at the Victoria Palace in order to discuss the 2019 budget with Premier Viorica Dancila. Gabriela Firea, who also took part in the talks, stated that it was proposed that 80 million euro should be cut from the Bucharest City Hall’s budget.
“In what concerns Bucharest, an informal meeting took place this morning and it was proposed that 70-80 million euro be cut from the Bucharest City Hall’s budget, which would mean we would no longer be able to buy 300-400 new buses or build 2-3 overpasses that would significantly decongest traffic in the Capital, or to build a new maternity as we wanted. These cuts will directly impact the lives of citizens. I’m convinced that, similarly, the rest of the municipalities will end up giving up investing in schools, hospitals, infrastructure, which is not desirable,” Bucharest Mayor Gabriela Firea stated ahead of the talks at the Victoria Palace.
“The commitment was for them to reply to us by noon. Our request is a minimum that works in the entire civilised world. We are asking for one third (of the national budget – editor’s note), that is how decent we are, it’s very little. Seventy percent of public services are covered by the local administration and today we receive less than 20 percent,” Bucharest District 3 Mayor Robert Negoita stated.
By 12 p.m. on Wednesday, the mayors had not received an answer from the Finance Ministry or the Government as regards their request for 30 percent of the national budget to be earmarked for the local administration.
“We are still waiting but while waiting we will go to the Government because we are very eager to know the Prime Minister’s point of view,” Robert Negoita, President of the Association of Romanian Municipalities, added.
Fifor attacks Falca: The champion of administrative incompetence acts as the spokesman of mayors
In a Facebook posting, PSD National Council President Mihai Fifor levelled harsh accusations against Mayor Gheorghe Falca, whom he labelled “the champion of administrative incompetence” after Falca negotiated with the Finance Minister on behalf of the Association of Romanian Municipalities.
“It boggles the mind, folks… Gheorghe Falca, the champion of administrative incompetence, acts as the spokesman of Romanian mayors. Arad Mayor Gheorghe Falca poses as the spokesman of the Romanian mayors’ discontent, against the backdrop in which Arad, a city he has been leading for too many years, is an abandoned city. Mayor Falca asks the Government for money and threatens to stage protests in Victory Square, forgetting that he has repeatedly proved not only that he is not capable of spending money from the city hall’s budget but actually that he nonchalantly takes the liberty to lose millions of euro from external financing,” Mihai Fifor wrote on Facebook.
The President of PSD’s National Council claims that Mayor Gheorghe Falca’s presence as “poisoned blowhorn of the mayors dissatisfied with the governmental allocations” represents the apex of insolence and hypocrisy.
“We do not deny the fact that there are Romanian communities that need the Government’s support, just as we do not deny the obligation of dialogue with the associative structures from the administration. I do not believe someone can claim that the Government does not pay special attention to relations with Romanian mayors. That is precisely why I consider it completely out of place for none other than PDL member Gheorghe Falca – artisan, alongside Boc and Basescu, of the most odious measures against Romanians – to talk about these administrative difficulties, on behalf of all mayors. It is difficult to list all proofs that attest Gheorghe Falca’s urbanistic incompetence, but I will try to mention several well-known negative examples. The great visionary Gheorghe Falca has rightfully earned the nickname ‘Falca the demolition man.’ While he has kept demolishing sport arenas, he has proven unable to finalise, for years now, the works on the new stadium of UTA, Arad’s flagship team. He was promising that Arad will be the green capital, but an entire country has seen Arad drowning for days in undisposed garbage because of Falca’s management,” Fifor added.
The former minister claims that Falca wants money from the Government but the city hall he leads is unable, each year, to spend the money it intends to spend, registering a budget surplus of tens of millions of euro, against the backdrop in which the people of Arad are forced to pay the highest local taxes and fees in the country proportional to the size of Arad.
“Not only did he not spend, but he actually lost more than 9 million Swiss francs meant to finance the heating system. A system which is on the brink of bankruptcy along with CET Arad, also as a result of the incompetence of Falca’s administration. If we add to this the immense sums spent on botched works that were part of a so-called urban regeneration, bicycle lanes, the sewerage system in Bujac, the public funds with which he is financing PR campaigns in order to collect a wage of 30,000 euro per month as MEP, even though he barely scores 3 percent in the polls, the famous Arad airport which swallows up money for salaries but has no activity, and these are just some of the elements that outline Mayor Falca’s true image as administrator, then we can loudly tell the mayors: the one who poses as your spokesman is but an imposter who does you no credit. In Arad, the city where citizens are asked to count the potholes because the administrative apparatus shepherded by Falca is not even capable of going on site to tally the disaster, it is clearly known who has taken hold of the money of the people of Arad: Gheorghe Falca and his obedient party band,” Mihai Fifor concluded.
Arad Mayor Gheorghe Falca took part in the meeting between the mayors of municipalities – members of the Association of Romanian Municipalities – and the Finance Minister, stating after the meeting that if the request to have 30 percent of the national budget earmarked for local administration is not met the mayors will stage a protest outside the government building.
Dragnea’s intervention in conflict with mayors: In 2019 they will have the largest budget in Romania’s history
Social Democratic Party (PSD) President Liviu Dragnea wrote on Facebook on Wednesday that this year local authorities will have the biggest budget in Romania’s history, namely approximately 77 billion lei, and that city halls will “rule the roost,” which forces them to be more responsible toward citizens.
“WIN-WIN SITUATION FOR LOCAL AUTHORITIES: more for the poor, without losses for the rich. In 2019, local communities will have the biggest budget in Romania’s history: around 77 billion lei, namely almost half of the state budget’s value (164.5 billion). Local elected officials will keep all sums collected from income taxes and will receive 11 billion from the Government, from the VAT quotas. No county will have less than 400 lei/inhabitant, in contrast to 250 [lei] before, and no city hall will have less than 1,200 lei/inhabitant, in contrast to 750 lei before.
“The city halls will directly keep 60 percent of the revenues, as they have asked, and the remaining 40 percent will go to the county, 20 percent of which will return to the same city halls for balancing. Bucharesters too will have more than before. There will be a decentralisation of finances, local elected officials will take over a series of expenditures from the Government’s obligation, but they will still keep 9 billion in excess of what they had before. From now on, they will rule the roost, but this forces them to be more responsible toward citizens: more parsimony with current expenditures and more money for the investments that the community expects,” Liviu Dragnea wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.
Association of Romania’s Towns and Cities calls on Gov’t to understand needs of local communities
The Association of Romania’s Towns and Cities (AOR), representing the small and medium-sized towns, calls on the government to understand the real needs of local communities and to find solutions together with the associative structures of communes, towns and municipalities for financing them.
“We strictly break with the provisions of the draft budget for 2019 regarding the financial allocation of the territorial-administrative units made by the current Government, the local autonomy and the development capacity of the administrative-territorial units being heavily affected by the proposals made these days by the members of the Executive. The Association of Romania’s Towns and Cities calls for reason and balance by asking the Romanian Government to understand the real needs of local communities and to find solutions for their financing together with the associative structures of communes, cities and municipalities,” reads a press release of AOR.
The Association urges the Ministry of Public Finance and the Government to comply with the commitments under the Governing Program 2018-2020, according to which the income tax and the pension tax should fully go back to the budgets of local public administrations as of 1 January 2019.
According to the same sources, the chapter “Public Administration – Regional Policies” in the governing program stipulates that the allocation to the budgets of the administrative-territorial units should be carried out as follows: 60 percent to the local budgets of the communes, towns and municipalities on whose territory the income tax payers operate; 20 percent to the local budget of the county; 20 percent in a distinct account opened in the name of the regional general government department of public finances / county administrations of public finances with the exchequer of the municipality county residence for balancing the local budgets of communes, towns and municipalities.