PM Tudose’s velvet-glove message to banks: They should start paying taxes to Romanian state

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Premier Mihai Tudose said on Friday that his message to the banks operating in Romania, during a meeting with the representatives thereof, was that “the romantic era” is over and it’s time they started working for profit,” in other words pay taxes to the Romanian state and not transfer all the money abroad.

“I met with the representatives of these banks and asked them if their ancestors have fought in the Battle of Solferino that was the inspiration for the foundation of the Red Cross,” Tudose said with a hint of irony to the banks’ apparently doing charity or “economic apostolic missions. (…) You cannot operate as a bank and claim you made no profit for 10 years. (…) We don’t buy this anymore. I talked with Mr. Finance Minister, and I told the banks myself that the romantic era is over and that these five or even ten years of on-the-job training, during which they learned how to run a bank are enough and it’s time for them to start working for profit and also pay taxes to the Romanian state, not transfer all the money abroad. Not all of them fall in this category, there are also banks that play fair. I repeat, everything has a limit. It is my understanding that Mr. Finance Minister also had a discussion with them, we’ll hold other talks, we are at the stage of nice talk, coloring nicely. If this doesn’t work, we’ll sharpen the pencils,” Mihai Tudose said in an interview with Realitatea TV private broadcaster, commenting on the fact that apparently Romania-based “banks make no profit.”

 

PM tries to appease fears over planned fuel excise rise: Just getting things back in place

 

Premier Mihai Tudose said on Friday in connection with the draft regulatory act on the increase of the fuel excise duty that the government is just trying to put things back in place, although “everyone has gone wild that the gas pump is on fire.”

Asked in an interview with Realitatea TV broadcaster, if he is intent on increasing the fuel excise duty, the head of the Executive replied: “You are not so wrong, anyway not as everyone got it, with people going wild that the gas pump is on fire. (…) We are just trying to put things back in place. When we scrapped the excise duty, the pump price did not drop. So we are trying to put it back. If the pump price increases, we’ll have another discussion with the fuel distribution and producing companies. (…) We took the excise off not to pad up their profits, but in an attempt to get the price down. It did not work, we’ll put it back.”

PM Tudose said money is needed for infrastructure, motorways and hospitals, and that picking up speed is advisable because certain things are behind schedule. “Let’s be honest. We scrapped the pole tax, the infamous pole tax everyone complained about and that had large companies whining that it badly hurt their operations. (…) Did you see anything getting cheaper? No. Then don’t you feel the urge to put it back?”, Tudose asked.

According to a draft ordinance on the amendment of the Tax Code, fuel excises might revert to 2016 levels, in a move proposed because budget collections from this tax dropped by 634.3 million lei and – as the government argues – diesel prices in Romania are among the smallest in the European Union, after Luxembourg and Bulgaria.

 

“Romania is a modern state, yet still a lot to do to reach normalcy”

 

Romania is a modern and well-established state, but a lot still needs to be done to reach normalcy, Premier Mihai Tudose said on Friday, pointing out that a medium- and long-term strategy is needed.

“Last Sunday there was an extraordinary event in Focsani – the centennial anniversary of the Battle of Marasesti. (…) In the year that followed the Marasesti Battle, all the political forces joined hands and made the Greater Romania (…) taking advantage of the favorable international context of that time. The current international context is also favorable, Romania has a geostrategic position that can be well capitalized upon. (…) We have evolved very much, Romania is a modern, well-established state, with an economy that starts working very well, but there is still a lot to do to achieve normality,” Tudose told private broadcaster Realitatea TV.

According to the PM, instating normalcy is the biggest challenge for him, as head of the government.

“The biggest challenge in this office is to stay normal and try to instate normalcy, because it’s something I found we are missing. (…) That’s how I started my – let’s say – new life as a Prime Minister, shining some light on everyday issues pertaining to health care, vaccines, education, economy,” said Tudose.

The Premier also talked about the need for a medium and long-term strategy.

“The only moment of national unity on a project in the post-Revolution period was the Snagov Declaration, when they established that we need NATO and the European Union and all political forces are headed in that direction. Now, we do have a strategy in place – the governing program – that covers two or three years. It’s a good start, but it’s not enough, because that’s the strategy of the ruling party for the respective term. Based on this program we should have a strategy in the medium term and, why not, in the long run too,” Tudose said.

 

PSD inner contradictions are progress drivers, ruling program firmly nailed down

 

Premier Mihai Tudose said on Friday that the ruling Social Democratic Party (PSD) remains a large formation with multiple personalities and that inner contradictions are actually a factor of progress and have been instrumental to hammering out of a four-year governing program.

The Premier defended the various adjustments of the program to day-to-day realities, pointing out that its principles will be observed so that Romania becomes a strong and respected state.

“PSD’s added value springs exactly from here, as it’s a large party with multiple personalities and inner contradictions are a factor of progress. It’s OK as long as they stay a factor of progress, of debate, we all start from the premise that nobody hands down axioms. (…) The multitude of ideas is a factor of progress and this progress has materialized in that government program, it has materialized in gaining the Romanians’ confidence, and I tell you that we are about to recover the delays from the first part of our term and get back on schedule,” Mihai Tudose told private broadcaster Realitatea TV when asked how “feels the party” at this moment.

The Premier said that the changes made to the initial program announced by PSD are “normal” and have to do with the need to adjust to reality, with efforts to maximize chances.

“This is a four-year program, and its principles stay put. We want Romania to grow, Romanians to have a better life, Romania to be a strong state, to re-industrialize, to very much increase the living standards, because there’s a wide gap separating us from the EU partners, we want it to be a safe state, a respected state,” said Tudose.

He also dispassionately evoked former PSD leaders, highlighting for each some of their qualities, such as Adrian Nastase’s oratorical skills, or Mircea Geoana’s strong foreign policy expertise.

About former President of Romania Ion Iliescu, Tudose said he was “an extraordinary man for that time, well-balanced and fair, a man who is respected to this day not only in the country but also abroad. (…) For those times, and with the mentality back then, I don’t know if Romania could have taken a very high shock. We had a lot to learn from him,” Tudose said.