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Wednesday, 04 January

Address by Prime Minister Sorin Mihai Grindeanu at the investiture in Parliament

Sorin Mihai Grindeanu: President of the Senate, Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies, Your Holiness, distinguished representatives of the Diplomatic Corps, Presidents of the Constitutional Court and the Court of Accounts, Deputies and Senators, candidates for the Minister office, first vice-governor, distinguished guests, I thank you for your participation in this Executive meeting for debating the programme for Government and the Cabinet Ministers.

I would like in the opening to thank those who nominated me for this office, and who stood by me in the formation of government team and the programme for Government that I bring today to your debate.

I want to remind from the very beginning that the first nomination of PSD for Prime Minister, Mrs. Sevil Shhaideh would have been an excellent nomination at the helm of the Executive and it is good that she will join me in the future Cabinet team that you will vote today, in Parliament. I particularly greet the balance of President Liviu Dragnea who in the last weeks, behaved as a genuine statesman, placing national interest above his personal interest or that of the party he is leading. Thus, a very harmful political crisis for our country was avoided, and today, Romania can have a Cabinet to immediately start the implementation of the programme voted by Romanians on the December 11 elections. On this very evening, after we get your vote of confidence, we will convene this first Cabinet meeting so that we become operational in the shortest time possible.

As in the other prior Cabinet investiture meetings, the main topic of debates in Parliament is Romania and the way the new team intends to run the country over the next four years. There has been talked a lot in such moments about the way we intend to make Romania look like at the end of the mandate the Government receives from Parliament.

There were mentions of strong Romania, prosperous Romania or the fair Romania, about Romania without bureacracy or about the efficient Romania.

Today I propose to you another objective that, in my opinion, includes all the aforementioned others— a normal Romania. I propose to you and myself that, at the end of this mandate that you entrust to me, if you vote for this Cabinet, to have another type of country, where people would live better and enjoy the same rights and freedoms like the majority of European citizens.  In my opinion, this should be the main objective of the future Cabinet. I wish to have a normal country, where things are as they must be, where abnormality would be an exception, and not a rule, as it seems to be today in many areas of activity. The first sign of normality is for politicians elected in public offices to observe what they promised during the electoral campaign and to put into practice all measures for which they received the vote of citizens. This is the normal relationship between the elected and the voters. Therefore, in the program for Government which is subject to your attention and the Parliament's vote, you will find all the measures presented in the electoral campaign by the PSD President Liviu Dragnea. These measures were voted by Romanians and it is normal for them to be found in the program for the Government of the parties which obtained the majority in the Parliament. It is normal for the winning parties in the elections to have political responsibility, and it is alike normal for this responsibility to be reflected in the programme for Government supported by these parties. I want a normal Romania in which economic growth can be found in the welfare of its citizens.

The purpose of all our actions is the prosperity of those who voted for us and are paying taxes and fees. In a normal country, the welfare of the citizen should underpin any decision or ruling act.

 We do not come to government to have nice statistics on paper, the economic growth does not have any value if it is not noticed in a way or another in Romanians' pockets. In a normal country, the Government should pursue higher wages for its citizens, not small wages, hoping for the arrival of more foreign investors.

In a normal country, the purpose of governing is first of all prosperity for its own citizens, and second, the success of foreign investors.. We want foreign investments in Romania, but investments that would bring well paid jobs for Romanians. Foreign investments are not a goal by themselves, but a way to secure better living standards for Romanians. For this reason, our program for government includes our proposal for a radical change of the economic vision regarding the foreign investors. We want the foreign investors to find in Romania a very skilfull labor force, not a badly paid one. We want foreign investors to find in Romania a predictable fiscal framework and a low taxation on labor, and not very high taxes on very small salaries. Our program for government includes good measures for businesspeople and we propose a friendly fiscal and predictable framework for any investor. Our target is for Romania to rank 6th in early next year from the 21th place at present, with respect to taxes on labor in Europe. We can do this, and I am sure that this measure will bring many benefits for employers and employees alike. We envisage an increase in the minimum wage per economy to 1.450 lei this year, and to 1.750 lei up to 2020.

At the same time, we have a serious package of measures which includes cut in labor taxes at the same time with stimulating businesses, so that we have an increase in the average salary per economy from 2.815 lei to 3.950 lei in 2020. In a normal country, those who worked their whole life, and contributed to economic development, have a decent pension when they retire. Therefore, if we want a normal Romania, we should necessarily increase the pension point, so that this reaches 45 percent in 2021, from the value of the average salary per economy, namely 1.775 lei, with a first increase to 1.000 lei in 2017. We can also increase the revenues of population by decreasing taxes related to these revenues. Smaller tax on the salary gain means much money in the citizen’s pockets. In this respect, we aim that one of the first important measures of the new Cabinet be exemption of tax for all revenues smaller than 2000 lei per month, whether pensions, wages, or revenues from independent activities. As of January 1st, 2018, we aim that the tax on revenues bigger than 2.000 lei decrease from 16 to 10 percent from the difference over this sum. I also want a normal Romania in which the young people are not compelled to go abroad for earning a decent income for their family. I want the young graduates to stay and work here, in Romania, earn a decent salary, pay contribution for our retirees, not for the foreign ones, support through their labor, our healthcare system and our education system, not those from other states. I am from a border county and I had colleagues who either left the country or are still thinking to do it. It is a very serious phenomenon, impacting our economy and tearing apart families. Stopping this phenomenon should be a national priority. I want that young people stay in Romania, be alongside and take care of their parents and grandparents. Romania will be a normal country when young people graduating aschool, will find enough reasons to remain here, when they find a well-paid job in the country and the state help them form their family here, in Romania. This is the reason why our program for government encompasses many measures aiming at stopping the exodus of young people from Romania. We have an ambitious programme for backing the setting up of ten thousands companies per year, so that young people can start a business in Romania and offer jobs to other young people graduating school. Our vision on government encompasses training stages allowing young people learn better a job that can later provide them a stable and well paid job in Romania, and if we succeed in developing a well-qualified labor force, I am sure that foreign investors like the Romanian ones will be interested in developing businesses in our country. We have programs to ensure young people a better transition from school to labor market, with incentives to be granted to companies employing young apprentices or that turns the internship into a labor contract on indefinite period. To stop the young people from leaving the country, we envisaged the programme „The first salary” to secure a minimum salary of 2.500 lei to the young university graduates and a first salary starting from 1.200 euro and zero income tax for the young medicine residents.

Distinguished colleagues, I am sure that you understand very well what a noral Romania means, that you agree with me that in a normal country, citizens do not queue interminably to pay countless taxes to state. This does not happen in a normal country. I greet the Parliament’s decision to adopt the law to remove the 102 taxes, which in my opinion, represents the amplest way of cutting back bureaucracy in Romania and if we want Romania to become a normal country when we have to advance, and put the administrative system into the citizen’ service, compel the state authorities to implement the online payment of taxes, so that, by January 1st, 2018, all taxes that cannot be paid online, are automatically cancelled.

In my vision, a normal Romania means that citizens have access to normal and civilized healthcare services in normal and clean hospitals. The programme for government brought to your attention included                                                                                                                                                                                      numerous measures to attain this objective. I mention here building the Republican Hospital „Carol Davila” where Romanians can have access to high-quality medical services. We also stipulated the construction of eight regional hospitals with a high capacity of diagnosis and treatment, so that in all the regions of the country, Romanians have access to high –quality hospital services. We also intend to equip hospitals with high –performance equipment. In a normal country, citizens should have access to medicines, irrespective of the illness and costs. We cannot limit the right to life.  National programs should be budgeted in order to ensure adequate treatment for all patients, according to their needs. Our programme for government provides for every illness a 100 percent compensated medicine besides the other medicines of the compensated list, so that every Romanian, irrespective of the income level, have access to necessary treatment. In a normal country, every citizen has access to an ambulance that can intervene in due time when an emergency intervention is needed, and the government programme brought to your attention includes the measure of equipping each commune in our country with an ambulance.

I want and suggest you to build together a normal Romania in which every child has access to an education that observes the basic hygiene and equipment norms. For this reason,  I introduced in the programme for government, the modernisation of 2.000 schools, starting with those that do not currently meet the minimum authorisation conditions. In a normal country, parents should be given the possibility to enroll their children in kindergarten or nursery, where to be safe and to benefit from education provided by qualified personnel. This is why, I included in our programme for government, the construction of 2500 nurseries and kindergartens to cover all requests from Romania. In a normal country, teachers are well-paid and respected, as they prepare new generations of whom the future of a nation depends, and I think that if we want that Romania be a normal country, we should offer better salaries to those working in the educational system, and I welcome Parliament’s decision to pass the la whereby wages of this sector are increased by 15 percent, as we pledged during the campaign, we envisage an increase in the wages of all state personnel by 20 percent, therefore, for teachers, too, as of July 1.

Distinguished colleagues, in my opinion, a normal country means you can drive on normal roads, and any normal state develops its transport infrastructure, as this is the basis for economic development, and the safest way to bridge development gaps among regions. The truth is very simple – economic prosperity comes always on the railway or roads connecting a country or a region to other countries and regions. In a general overall of the development poles position, one can easily notice that the most developped areas are those with most connections to road, railay, naval or air infrastructure. Romania itself should have as many connections to European or international transport connections as possible for a normal and sustained development over the next decades.

Therefore, it is normal to aim at building a highway to cross Romania from West to East. It is absolutely normal to aim at having one motorway to connect all historical regions and I appreciate the fact that other parties too aimed at this objective in their programmes. Therefore, we have a common basis to start a constructive dialogue. Romania will be a normal country when large infrastructure projects will not be blocked anymore by interminable appeals to public auctions and I think it is absolutely necessary to have a new legislation regarding works assignment for projects of strategic interest. 

In a normal Romania, Romanian farmers should enjoy equal opportunities in competition with the European ones.

Distinguished colleagues, I want a normal Romania in which Romanian farmers enjoy equal opportunities with the European ones, and this means due payment of subsidies so that the Romanian farmers do not cover additional costs for interests to contracting loans.

In a normal country, there are investments in the irrigation system for farmers and the agricultural output not to depend anymore on weather. Agriculture is further on a very important component in the GDP and Romania’s economic growth. Therefore, provided we want a healthy economy, we should have a healthy economy, with an irrigation system to secure a consistent output, irrespective of rain amount. I want a normal country in which Romanians’ food to come especially from internal production, as we have a rich land which can provide healthy food for our entire population. I think it is profoundly abnormal that a country like Romania imports 50.000 tonnes of tomatoes and exports only three. It is abnormal that in Romania, pork imports are 100 bigger than the exports, we import 230.000 tonnes and we export only 20.000. It is not normal to be in such situation, and we intend whereby our programme or government to provide support to Romanian farmers for these two products – tomatoes and pork, so that we cover the largest part of domestic consumption with healthy products achieved here, in Romania.

Normal Romania means investment, investment in the defence industry. Any normal state invests in its own security, it takes the required measures to ensure national security, and we, as NATO members, should observe our commitments and make investment in the defence industry. We earmarked in our programme, a minimum 2 percent allocation of GDP, but alike any normal country, we should orient the largest share of these financial resources to the domestic defence industry.

Normal Romania means a fair and independent judiciary. Last but not least, a normal Romania means a balanced and functional rule of law. In a normal country, law rules, and the justice is really independent. If we want a normal Romania, we should secure full independency of judges who enforce justice in the letter and spirit of law, and in accordance with their own conscience, in the absence of any pressure. In a normal country, the guilty are punished, and the honest ones are defended.

Fight against corruption and against those who steal, should be very firm, but we should also be firm in protecting the fundamental human rights so that any fair citizen feels protected by law in front of any possible abuse.

Distinguished colleagues, I have mentioned just some of the most important measures from our programme for government. All the other details, you could analyze in the document that we put at your disposal.  Whereby this brief presentation, I wanted to persuade you that this programme for government does not aim at something which cannot be attained and does not promise anything which cannot be achieved. It is nothing great and much less, it is nothing spectacular. It is not an exaggeration. What I propose to you whereby this program is to make Romania a normal country in which to enjoy decent and civilized living standards. Normality is the essence of our programme for government, and it is our duty, of the politicians, those elected by citizens, to set order in the country, in all fields of activity, and the first sign of normality should start from here, from Parliament, between us- the elected – in a normal country, politicians work for those who elected them, and do not fight each other. In a normal country, there is a civilized dialogue between politicians, even if from different angles. Therefore, my message to you, to the entire political class is one of openness and dialogue to the benefit of citizens and the national interest of Romania. For a decade, politics in Romania has been dominated by hatred, bitterness and countless conflicts between different political camps. Political fights over this period seriously impacted the functioning of some fundamental institutions, and in the end, those who suffered the most, were the citizens. I therefore propose you that as of the very today, at the beginning of the year and term of office, we get out of this logic of conflict, cultivate dialogue between institutions and parties, between power and opposition, right and left, and among all the other camps that divided Romania in the last years. We can represent different parties, with different political orientations, and it is normal to have various views. It is a sign of health for our democracy. But, meanwhile, I consider this difference of thinking should be expressed in a civilized way, through mutual respect. I want that the political debate be carried with rational arguments, and not in the name of personal discontent but when Romanians’ welfare and national interest are at stake, we need to be able to overlook these differences and find a way to cooperate and be united as Romanians, as people, as nation. I want us to have a normal and civilized relationship with the President of Romania, all state institutions, and the opposition parties. Therefore, distinguished colleagues from PNL, PMP, or USR, I am a person who values dialogue, and those who know me, know very well that these are not empty words. I have good friends in other political parties, alongside whom, I could always find a constructive way for the well-being of those who voted for us. The mayor of Timisoara, Nicolae Robu is just one of those with whom I could carry a dialogue, and we cooperated very closely for the well-being of Timisoara community, even if we represented different or even opponent political parties in elections. Therefore, distinguished colleagues from the Opposition, I want to begin my mandate as Prime Minister with an invitation to dialogue and cooperation. I have always respected those elected to public offices as each of you represent the citizens who voted for you. Without any hint of irony, I want to tell you that this government will not be my government, or the PSD, ALDE or anybody else’s government, it will be the Romanian Government, and you, those in the Opposition, as representatives of those who elected you, you will always have a reserved place at the table of discussions and cooperation with this Government, surely to the extent you want it too, to cultivate a sincere and constructive dialogue to the benefit of those you represent. The first project to which I invite you to cooperate is „Normal Romania”. I have talked about it in my first address from this rostrum, in front of the new Parliament following the December 11 elections. Thank you.

Sorin Mihai Grindeanu: Presidents, Members of the Senate and the Chamber of the Deputy, distinguished guests, I would like to thank you for your vote today. For us, for the Romanian Government, it means a great responsibility, one given not only by your vote today, but the responsibility is given by the Romanians’ December 11 vote. This is why, the act of government that we will exercise, will be driven by responsibility, modesty and respect towards Romanians. Thank you once again for your confidence in me. Thank you. 

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