Social Democratic Party (PSD) Liviu Dragnea has tabled in Parliament several amendments to the 2019 budget bill, lowering the Romanian Intelligence Service (SRI)budget by RON 295 million in order to hike the Health Ministry’s budget. Likewise, the PSD leader proposes the lowering of the Protection and Guard Service (SPP) budget.
“The Health Ministry’s budget is supplemented under Chapter 66.01 – Healthcare, Title 20 – Goods and Services, by RON 295,000 thousand in budget appropriations and commitment appropriations, for the following programmes: Vitamin D, tumoral markers tests. The other addenda to the Health Ministry’s budget are to be appropriately modified,” reads the amendment to the 2019 budget bill, tabled by Liviu Dragnea.
As source of financing, Dragnea proposes the cutting of the SRI’s budget by RON 295 million.
“Source of financing: The SRI budget – Addendum 03/31 – is cut by RON 295,000 thousand in budget appropriations and commitment appropriations, under Chapter 61.01 – Public order and national security, Title 10 – Expenditures on personnel,” reads the amendment’s substantiation.
Likewise, the PSD leader proposes the hiking of the Health Ministry’s budget by RON 230 million for transfers between public administration units, by cutting RON 50 million from the SPP’s budget: “The Health Ministry’s budget is supplemented by RON 230,000 thousand in budget appropriations and commitment appropriations, under Chapter 56.01 – Transfers of a general character between various levels of the administration, Title 51 – Transfers between public administration units.”
As a source of financing, Dragnea proposes the lowering of the SPP’s budget by RON 50 million: RON 40,000 thousand from forecast expenditures on personnel, RON 5,000 thousand from SPP’s forecast expenditures on goods and services, and RON 5,000 thousand from non-financial assets.
Another amendment proposed by the PSD leader stipulates the hiking of the National Health Insurance Fund’s budget by RON 230 million.
“The revenues and expenditures of the National Health Insurance Fund are supplemented by RON 230,000 thousand. Source of financing: the hiking of the revenues of the National Health Insurance Fund,” reads the amendment tabled by Dragnea.
Parliament adopted on Saturday the timetable of the debate on the 2019 state budget.
The amendments were tabled by Monday at noon, and the final vote is scheduled on Friday.
According to the timetable of the debate and adoption of the state budget for 2019, approved during the meeting of the House and Senate’s Joint Standing Bureaus, parliamentarians were able to table amendments until Monday at noon, and the amendments were to be centralised by 2 p.m. on the same day.
Parliament’s special committees will issue their reports starting on Monday at 3 p.m.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the House and Senate’s Budget-Finances Committees will draft the reports that will be tabled within the Joint Standing Bureaus on Wednesday at 3 p.m.
The joint meeting of the two Houses of the Legislative, focusing on debating and adopting the budget bill for 2019, will start on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Pintea: Vitamin D programme is not Mr Dragnea’s invention, it’s the proposal of the National Commission for Endocrinology
Health Minister Sorina Pintea stated on Monday that the Vitamin D programme for which PSD leader Liviu Dragnea has tabled an amendment to the budget is not his “invention” but a request on the part of the National Commission for Endocrinology. Pintea said that “the Health Ministry is registering a historic budget growth,” something that gladdens her.
“I want to tell you that any extra sum earmarked for healthcare means patients rescued, patients solved. I can only be happy that there are amendments regarding the hiking of the sums for national programmes. Vitamin D is not an invention on the part of Mr Dragnea, it’s a proposal from the National Commission for Endocrinology,” Sorina Pintea said on Monday when asked for her opinion on Liviu Dragnea’s amendment to the budget. The amendment is asking for more money for the Vitamin D programme.
Pintea pointed out that there were several proposals and some of them were taken into account. For example, one thousand in vitro fertilisations will be financed in 2019, up from 685 last year.
“I believe we must be happy. The Health Ministry’s budget is registering a historic growth, which should gladden us,” Pintea added.
Carmen Dan, after the Parliament’s positive opinion: The budget will be able to ensure MAI that it’s missions will be carried out
After the positive opinion of the Parliament’s Specialized Committee on the 2019 Budget, Carmen Dan stated that the funds that the Interior Ministry will receive this year will ensure the proper performance of the missions of the institution.
“I pointed out, by reviewing the manner in which we have managed the budget execution in 2017-2018, and it’s important to say that we are talking about a budget execution of more than 99%. Making this review on the manner in which the budget was managed in the recent years, I’ve presented the priorities regarding the budget allocation for 2019. I am glad for the committee’s opinion. We appreciate it’s a budget that will be able to ensure the Ministry of Interior (MAI) that it’s specific missions will be properly carried out. I was pointing out the priorities and I said that we will continue the policy of reducing the staff shortages, I was speaking about the employees we expect this year, (…) the continuation of the investment policy (…) about ensuring the optimal conditions for the 200 events we have to manage”, Minister Carmen Dan stated.
The Parliament’s Specialized Committee issued it’s positive opinion, with 21 votes, for the 2019 budget of the Interior Ministry.
PSD-ALDE coalition accused of abuse of power
MEP Siegfried Muresan (PNL) stated on Monday that what PSD-ALDE are doing when it comes to adopting the budget “is called abuse of power,” namely the infringement of Parliament’s constitutional role as the sole legislator of the country. He criticised the fact that the time allocated for the tabling of amendments was very brief.
“What the PSD-ALDE coalition is doing when it comes to the adoption of the budget is called abuse of power and the infringement of the Romanian Parliament’s constitutional role as sole legislator of the country. Parliamentarians have had at their disposal only half a workday to draft and table amendments to the budget. The budget was adopted by the Government on Friday afternoon, and parliamentarians had to table the amendments by noon today,” Siegfried Muresan wrote on Facebook.
In this context, Siegfried Muresan explained that when he was chief negotiator of the European Parliament for the European Union’s budget for 2018, he had three months at his disposal to draft and table amendments to the European Commission’s proposed budget.
“Let me give you another example: Germany’s budget for 2019 was adopted by the Government in Berlin as early as July 2018, and Parliament adopted it at the end of November, so after more than 4 months,” the MEP added.
“Why is the PSD-ALDE coalition doing this? Because they know it is a weak budget, built on inflated figures, a budget of economic stagnation. That is why they want to adopt the budget quickly, without giving parliamentarians time to analyse, debate and knowingly adopt the budget. Thus, Parliament’s role as the country’s sole legislating authority, as stipulated by Article 61 of the Romanian Constitution, is being infringed,” the National Liberal Party’s MEP concluded.
Victor Ponta about 2019 state budget: It is a fake, it’s not a realistic budget
Pro Romania Party Chairman Victor Ponta says the state budget for 2019 is a “fake,” not a realistic and serious one, and the manner in which it is attempted to be passed through Parliament proves there is no desire for “a real debate and analysis.”
“In the form this budget was presented the days before, it is a fake, it is not a realistic, serious budget, and the manner in which it is attempted to be passed through Parliament, to file the amendments in 24 hours, it is very clear that in Parliament there will be no desire and we won’t be allowed to have real debate and analysis. The first call on the Government is to take the draft back and try to improve it here and there, in its essential parts, so that it should be an as realistic as possible budget. Otherwise, the revisions that will follow – a revision cannot be done before July – will actually be entirely different budgets from what is hastily and forcedly adopted in the days to come,” Ponta told a press conference on Sunday.
In his opinion, the 5.5 percent economic growth forecast, which the budget was built on, is an exaggerated one.
“Absolutely all analysts – the European Commission, the Monetary Fund, the World Bank – all those who are in charge with these things, have assessed the evolution of the Romanian economy in an optimistic manner at somewhere between 3.5 and 3.8 percent. There are also less optimistic predictions. Nowhere, in no variant is there the 5.5 percent projection which the budget was built on, a projection probably made by Mr. Darius Valcov. The thing that happens with these projections is that the economic growth is inflated so that you can inflate the deficit, so that you can inflate the expenditure,” Ponta maintained.
In context, former PM Mihai Tudose said that this budget cannot be amended in any way, because it is only one of “consumption, without setting the grounds for a sustainable development with absolutely nothing.”
“We are certain that 10 percent are expenses for state employees from an inflated GDP. On a real GDP, they will be much higher. This also means a useless spending and an excessive bureaucracy, in the context in which we promised during the election campaign that we would perform a state reform. The reform has been done now, in the sense of decentralising some expenses, namely the local authorities were assigned 10 lei expenses with 5 lei funding. The current Government claims that it increased the local budgets, but for each leu coming in addition to the budget, other two lei have come as additional spending. There is an entire list with letters to Santa Claus, they are fake, because the budget will come into force in March, if we don’t manage with all responsible political forces to prevent this budget and this Government from going further. In fact, it is only a consumption budget, without setting the grounds for a sustainable development with absolutely nothing. What should we amend? The Government must be taken down or they should draw up a realistic budget,” Tudose said.
In his opinion, it is not possible that 30 percent of the budget revenues come from what the National Agency for Fiscal Administration (ANAF) collects.
“This is impossible. The adjustment will come from cutting expenses, failing to observe the external commitments, failing to observe the investment programmes, probably further manipulating the figures. You cannot take loans forever. If things perpetuate, if we keep digging a big hole to cover a smaller one, we’ll end up with a huge hole with Romania on the edge, one step away from falling in,” the former PM underscored.
Head of small businesses’ umbrella organisation: 2019 state budget fragile, built on chimerical commitment appropriations
This year’s state budget is fragile and unbalanced, since it relies on commitment appropriations which are actually chimeras and mean rolling over payments from one year to another, Florin Jianu, president of Romania’s National Council of Small and Medium-sized Private Enterprises (CNIPMMR) told a press conference.
“The budget is fragile and unbalanced. It is built on commitment appropriations, just like the year before. This means that it does not start from realistic premises, as is customary for entrepreneurs to plan their budgets. The state budget is built on chimeras, specifically on these commitment appropriations, which means rolling over payments from one year to the next, just as in 2018 we moved them to 2019. And we simply don’t look at who has to foot the bill in the end,” Jianu said.
According to him, the lengthy budget delay is a very serious issue, as investments are also put off.
“The European Union and many EU countries build their budget on surplus, while Romania goes directly for deficit. We have looked at the budgets of other countries, many build their budget on surplus and they also had surplus last year. For instance Sweden, Germany, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Croatia, Greece. Even Bulgaria, which has a lower tax rate, but has not changed the fiscal code for 12 years, has a budget surplus,” Jianu said.
He emphasized that there are two major goals set forth in the EU budget, namely economic growth and job creation, with 13 pct of the budget directed thereto.