Statements by Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu at the start of the Cabinet meeting

11 May

Sorin Grindeanu: Good afternoon. Some minutes ago, I concluded along with some colleagues the discussion with the European Commission President Mr. Juncker, a real friend of our country, a friendship which has been showed to us during accession, post-accession but especially before our country’s EU membership. Also, on Tuesday, I paid visit to Austria, together with four Cabinet colleagues, in addition to formal meetings with Chancellor Kern who reaffirmed his support for Romania’s Schengen accession, and reaffirmed what is in fact a reality, to us, Austria is important as it is the second largest investor in Romania, with investments of nearly EUR 10 billion, but we are important to Austria too, being one of the most profitable markets for Austria in this part of Europe. We had an extremely good meeting at the Austrian Economic Chamber too, where, beyond the presentation of companies already present on the market in Romania, there were new companies that wanted to invest in our country, our country being one of the most friendly countries in EU, from the economic point of view. This is why I am optimist that we will have new investments over the next period. With respect to this, Minister Petrescu, I call on you that after meeting, you attend the press briefing because today, the prevention law is in first reading, you should explain that the period for public debates ran out, it is an extremely important law, before giving the opinion on it, this is why, it is in first reading today, and sending it to Parliament. To us, it is extremely important to give these signals. We have positive signals from the market, and I will give you few figures: rate of Romanian exports is three times higher compared to 2016. And the highest as amount as of 2012. In March, the exports of goods amounted to EUR 5.7 billion which represents the biggest monthly export in history. It is an extremely positive and encouraging sign. I would further request madam Olguta Vasilescu to clarify the debate which started some days ago, for us to be as transparent as possible with respect to actions we want to initiate in the period ahead. Thank you, Madam Minister.

Olguta Vasilescu: Thank you, Mr. Prime Minister. Regarding parental leave allowance, I want to make a very brief presentation. In EU, several countries do not pay at all this allowance, among which: Great Britain, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Greece, Ireland, Malta. In others, this allowance is granted, but the average is EUR 500 per month. The highest amount is granted in Germany, but in certain conditions, EUR 1.800 per month. In Romania, we reached the situation of paying even 35, 000 EUR per month to a single person, given that last year, the ceiling of 3,400 lei was removed. I could notice that in the first months of this year, it has been paid as for the entire last year, and it has become a practice for employers to pay higher wages in the last months of pregnancy, so that the amount of allowance grows, or as it is calculated according to income, property sales take place and the allowance is higher accordingly. I give you some examples of allowance: in Bucharest, a lawyer earns 159,348 lei per month,therefore, more than 35,000 EUR. In Constanta, intellectual property rights, 141,679 lei per month. I would mention that we have requests under analysis with much higher amounts than in this presentation. The allowances of first ten of this ranking amount to a sum equal to nearly 600 average allowances. With respect to contributiveness, a person contributes by 0.85 percent of the salary for leave and allowances, but such an allowance means 85 percent of the income. For a person earning from such an allowance, one billion ROL, therefore, 100,000 RON, to reach the sum cashed for two years as parental allowance, he should pay contributions for 2,400 months which as you realize, it is impossible. We are analyzing the reintroduction of the ceiling not at 3,400 lei as it has been so far, but somewhere between 5.000 and 10.000 lei, as neither the principle of contributiveness nor that of social solidarity can be applied for an allowance to reach 35,000 EUR, that is nowhere in the world.

I further present you some data referring to the number of beneficiaries and the amounts paid. In March this year, the total number of beneficiaries amounted to 157,773 persons, with the sum of 261,245, 000 lei. More than half of these persons receive the minimum allowance of 1,233 lei, therefore 108, 438 persons; 39,730 persons receive between 1,234 and 3,400 lei; 5,478 persons receive between 3,401 and 5,000 lei; 3,504 persons receive between 5,001 and 10,000 lei, and 623 persons receive more than 10,000. As you could notice, introducing the ceiling for an amount, let’s say 8,000 lei, does not affect more than 3 percent of those who are paying these allowances, but we stop a practice which poise a threat to the state budget in the next period. Currently, we are conducting an analysis and we are about to propose to the Government a cap in this respect. Thank you.

Sorin Grindeanu: Thank you, madam Minister. I would like that you are conducting fast this analysis, so that we can make a decision in this respect and both us and the Romanians to be informed about certain decisions that we can take. Thank you once again. I think the explanation offered by Madam Minister was as clear as possible. Minister Daea, I understand that a governmental programme we launched early this year, about Romanian tomatoes, started working not only through the payments made by the Ministry of Agriculture but through what is in fact important, the final product. If you can detail, you are welcome.

Petre Daea: I will do it with great pleasure, Mr. Prime Minister, especially that there is a governmental programme I launched during the electoral campaign and which you presented in Parliament, we supply it with amounts in the Ministry’s budget and which has 6.816 beneficiaries at present. (...) The tomato plants are producing, 106 beneficiaries are now selling on the market, although we had a difficult year, with lower temperatures. As I said – I will give you precise figures to confirm the reality – in a year with low temperatures, we had crops 11 days in advance. Romanian tomatoes are being sold in 12 counties. They imposed in the consumers’ preferences by quality compared to imports. We will further have several products from all counties in which this program is unfolding. The price is different from area to area. In the Arad area, they cost 6 lei, and 12 lei in Bucharest area. I have here the situation and hopefully, I can provide the media with a much fair briefing, where these products are. I am glad that they have been achieved based on a program that we backed and we unfold carefully.

Sorin Grindeanu: Thank you, Minister. I want to see on the spot. In addition to this issue, more important is their taste. The true taste of tomatoes has been forgotten, let us see whether final products have the quality you all remember. Thank you once again, media representatives. 

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