Fresh News

Monday, 04 Nov

Speech by Prime Minister Ludovic Orban at the Cabinet investiture in Parliament

[Check Against Delivery]

 

Ladies and gentlemen, members of the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate, allow me to start by congratulating and thanking you for being present today at such an important procedure, such as the new government investiture procedure which takes place after a successful motion of censure.

I congratulate you, I appreciate this presence so much more as I confess that I don't remember anything like this happening in the past 30 years, namely, that the investiture meeting of a government be boycotted by two political parties which clearly show, this way, the complete lack of understanding toward Romania's needs, the complete lack of respect toward Romanians' needs and show that they only care about their electoral counts or the stupidities done by those who are still exercising power after the dismissal through the censure motion, being partakers to all the misfortunes happening today in all the ministries and at the Victoria Palace.

I want to congratulate the MPs belonging to the Save Romania Union (USR), the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), the People's Movement Party (PMP), the Hungarian Democratic Union of Romania (UDMR), and I want to congratulate especially the MPs who, although  not members of any of the political parties that declared their support for this Cabinet, decided to be present and endorse the Cabinet investiture; first of all, the MPs of PRO Romania, and last but not least, each MPs individually, either independent or member of PSD, a special thanks to the Members of the Chamber of Deputies from the national minorities Group. I also want to assure that what we discussed, remains set in stone, and to state that our respect for the national minorities’ rights is a clear respect for all times.

We are coming after a motion of censure that ended a government which did a lot of harm to Romania. We must surpass this moment and start a new path of construction, of reconstruction of unity in the Romanian society, a path of resuming interinstitutional dialogue and the dialogue between state powers, one that truly relocates Romania on the Euro-Atlantic trajectory and lays the bases of a solid and long –term economic development of Romania.

Allow me to tell you that this Cabinet is a Cabinet with a limited mandate, the maximum duration of exercising the executive power of this Cabinet is one year and, practically, everything which we included in the programme for government starts from this constraint, which is provided by exercising power during an extremely short period. We have to take urgent measures, which can only be taken by a legitimate Cabinet. Look at what is happening with the barricade of over 100 miners in the underground of Paroseni and Uricani coal mines, people are putting their lives, health in danger because, for nine months, the previous Cabinet failed to extend the emergency ordinance which would give them the possibility to have an income, after the mines close, and put something on their families’ table.

At present, very many public institutions, governmental institutions and local authorities do not have the financial resources to close the budgetary exercise and risk leaving their employees without their salaries, as well as remaining without expenses that are fundamental for ensuring the operation of local authorities and institutions. Currently, there are delays in the payment of entitlements of persons with disabilities, the entitlements of personal assistants of people with disabilities, indicating that this situation cannot be tolerated. The adoption of Government Emergency Ordinance for the state budget revision is fundamental, which can ensure all the vital payments in all the activity areas, in all the public institutions and for all the local authorities.

Winter is coming and the situation regarding the preparations for winter is also disastrous in terms of energy, and the ability to clear the transport networks. Almost nothing was done. The Transport Minister is too busy to rehire famous Narcis Neaga at the CNAIR [the National Road Infrastructure Administration Corporation], through a flawed procedure based on Law No.115, while the regional roads have almost nothing from that is required to ensure the removal of snow, in case the first snow comes. In terms of the energy stocks, I want to tell you that we are in a very bad situation and this can entail an outcome that nobody in this country desires.

We are in the situation in which Romania remained the last country to nominate the European Commissioner. After six months in which despite public pressure and warnings issued by almost all present here now, in which the former Prime Minister obstinately maintained some candidacies that made us a laughing stock, we have literally reached the point where the European Union, the president of the European Commission urgently requests us to nominate a European Commissioner, which can only be effectively done by a legitimate government.

Last but not least, there is the necessity of drawing up the state budget draft for 2020. In accordance with the law, the deadline stipulated for submitting the state draft budget law and the state draft social security budget law is 15 November. Today is November 4, and a budget, which can stand up, which can be based on some well-grounded economic indicators, which can redirect the public spending toward the real priorities of Romania – investments in infrastructure, education, healthcare and in all the vital areas, should be drawn up as quickly as possible. Without a Government, this deadline cannot be observed and the budget will be once again drafted as it has been over the past years, through fake money, invented incomes and generating expenditures for which there is no coverage in real revenues. Another aspect which in my opinion is an emergency, surely it can be solved by Parliament, but a legitimate Cabinet can solve it, it is the issue of the early retirement of nearly 2,800 magistrates. Think about it, if the term is not extended or if this legal provision is not repealed, the judiciary in Romania will be completely paralyzed, a lot of cases have to be taken from the beginning and there is the possibility that the citizen's free access to the act of justice will be hindered. It is absolutely necessary to decide what is necessary to be done in this respect.

Furthermore, only a Government invested by Parliament, a legitimate Government can solve the issue of the Prosecutor’s Offices’ management.

For a good period of time, we are in a situation in which we do not have practically some rulers to have been designated through the constitutional and legal procedure following which, all prosecutor’s offices are led by persons with interim leadership responsibilities and who obviously cannot enforce the Romanian state’s policy in criminal law matters.

Another priority is adopting the measures to avoid the risk of EU funds disengagement not only for this year. In 2019, the amount stands at 600 million euro, of which the largest amount is for the regional operational programme, but if we do not take immediate measures to  ensure the allocation of the resources from EU to viable projects, we risk losing 600 million, and next year, there is a disengagement risk of 3.2 billion euro, especially, because of the fact that no contract of the large transport infrastructure projects has been signed on the POIM, which benefited from funding on the 2014-2020 multiannual financial exercise.

Allow me to tell you a few words about the state of the budget: the budget execution of the nine months indicates a 2.6 percent of GDP budget deficit. Think that last year, in the same period, the deficit stood at 1.6 at the nine-month budget execution. Furthermore, you should take into account the fact that VAT reimbursements on at least three months were delayed, we do not know the accurate situation, which is the monthly average of VAT reimbursements, in the context in which the amount of VAT reimbursements per month is approximately 2 billion. Consider minim 6 billion which should have in fact constitute expenses and which has not been spent, and the companies that should have benefitted from VAT reimbursements are basically deprived of the incomes to which they were legally entitled.

Think about the defrays on the National Program for Local Development being in the air, leaving many works whose costs should have been defrayed, the value of which we cannot estimate at this moment, but I can tell you with certitude that it is about few billions. Other expenses categories in the amount of at least three billion lei were deliberately delayed and they, in fact, press the budget execution until the end of the year and it will be very difficult - as the PSD did, brushing it under the rug, the deficit under the rug- not to be revealed. Therefore, the Cabinet investiture is essential, in order to ensure a budgetary rectification and especially a cost control and a reallocation of financial resources to the expenses that are absolutely necessary to ensure the operation of public institutions.

One of the most important objectives that we pursue is to restore the administrative capacity of government institutions, the administrative capacity that has been destroyed in the last three years by nominating at the helm of public institutions or in leading positions of people without professional training, without competence, of people who were brought only on the basis of connections or ruling party membership. The process of restoring administrative capacity is fundamental to ensuring a good government. A government that does not rely on institutions where competence, professionalism, the ability to implement projects, programs and public policies in the field are prevalent, can very hard achieve its goals.

The administrative capacity will be restored following an evaluation, an audit of the functioning of each public institution, by removing the PSD influence in the administration- I am not ashamed to say it, by removing PSD affiliated people of the administration - by introducing real competitions in all public institutions that will be open to any person who meets the employment criteria, and the evaluation committees will include not only political decision-makers but also people with expertise from the academic environment or from other areas who can really determine the employment of all those people who have the best training, expertise and the best ability to exercise public offices duties. The civil service corps was subjected to permanent humiliation. Many competent people from public institutions were dismissed or they left voluntarily because they literally could not support the pounding of laypeople without no professional training, only interested in resolving political clients interests or executing orders received from the red barons.

As regards the tax policy, we pledged to redress some normative acts that had very serious consequences in the economy. First of all, Ordinance 114, especially the energy-related provisions, provisions related to Pillar 2 of pensions, communications system, financial banking system, the provisions related to the ghostly Investment Development Fund. Obviously, we will try to amend, repeal most of these harmful provisions and, obviously, we will maintain those provisions for the construction sector. To set things very clear, because during this period PSD only launches bald-faced lies and tries to scare people: we do not intervene in the tax incentives that have been granted to the construction sector. Also, the cancellation of the over-taxation of part-time contracts, the cancellation of the provisions that, in my opinion, represented an over-taxation of companies with more than 100 employees who cannot employ 4% persons with disabilities and put all the protected units out of business in Romania, because they left them without orders from companies that benefited from this incentive.

At the same time, the elimination of the surcharge on fuels, which proved to be a measure generating negative effects and which did not reach any objective pursued at the time of adoption. In fact, if you remember, in the election campaign, others criticized too this surcharge, after which, after they came to power, they reintroduced this surcharge which, unfortunately, caused many carriers to stop buying fuel from Romania and which have generated cost increases in all economic areas, because of increased transport costs.

Judiciary. We are in a position when we must take very seriously the report on the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism. Consider that Bulgaria is about to get rid of this Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, while the report on Romania is a worsening report. And here we have to comprehend a very simple thing, and those who are present in this room and those who are not present in this room: there is no other way to put into practice the recommendations of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, which means a few simple things: resuming from the beginning of debates regarding the modification of the Criminal Code and the Criminal Procedure Code; also, the amendments to the justice laws, which are included in the report, from those relating to the Special Section to all other recommendations, which are included in the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.

I think that us, as normal politicians, serving this country, should set for ourselves the objective of Romania ending the MCV and especially to take the responsibility of having a truly independent judiciary in Romania, without the intrusion of the political factor or of other entities in the functioning of judiciary; to offer free access for citizen to the act of justice, to truly confer a system of justice that is able to do justice to every Romanian.

As regards public order, first and foremost, we should bring the gendarmerie and the police in the condition conferred by Constitution and the country’s laws, namely in the service of the citizens, as defenders of the safety, life and private property of every citizen. We should put an end to the political use of these fundamental institutions of public order in the Romanian state, stop their use to defend the potentates of the day, or their use to attain political objectives.

Of course, from our point of view, it is imperatively necessary and I ask for your support to repeal the provisions of the compensatory appeal law, which led to the early release of more than 20,000 convicted prisoners, and very many of them committed crimes again.

Also, the probation service is a fundamental service that must be developed to ensure the social reintegration of those who are released from detention. At present, the capacity of the police to carry out its mission must be restored, the interim and the political appointments must end, with the connections between the political leaders and the police chiefs at any level, whether it is a local, county or national level. All police vacancies must be filled by competition. The practice of appointment with an indefinite delegation of responsibility must be stopped so that the delegated person should not be compelled to execute all the illegal orders coming from the person appointing him.

In Police and Gendarmerie, we should change the mentality, attitude and determination of the employees of these institutions in fulfilling their missions. Training programs should be resumed, personnel hired where necessary, and all necessary resources allocated because the life, physical integrity and property of every Romanian are at stake in this respect, and all these must be defended by police, gendarmerie, and the other public entities. I state it clearly: a total war against crime, against crime gangs, who "make the law" against the law, in many areas of Romania, with the wide participation of leaders of county branches or of heads of institutions.

In terms of education, of course, we cannot make wonders. We will try to increase budget allocations for the education sector, speed up the absorption of European funds in support of investment in school infrastructure, also we are trying through a partnership with local authorities to generate policies to boost the quality of the education service provided by the education system of Romania. We should introduce things which are normal in any civilized country: expanding the after school system, hot meals provided in schools, professional and vocational counseling, schools endowment with all necessary equipment that would enable children to be not only receptors of theoretical knowledge, but also give them the possibility to achieve practical things, thus discovering their vocation or inclination for a certain job.

Obviously, we should aim at – although we cannot achieve this in one year time, but we should set the objective of rebuilding the vocational education system that was destroyed 15 years ago. Basically, a handful of trade is a handful of gold, says a popular proverb. Unfortunately, some 15 years ago, out of the rush for candidates for faculties set out all of a sudden, through political decision, all vocational high schools, and almost all technical ones were put out of operation. The relaunch of vocational education is fundamental to ensure labour force, necessary qualifications, to ensure the process of reindustrialization of Romania, the process of economic development and to give a chance in life to many children who do not find their place today. Think that of the 100 children starting first grade, 66 pass their baccalaureate and another 23 graduate from university. What happens to the other students, to those who do not pass their baccalaureate, who have no job, who have no purpose in life? It is not possible for the Romanian school to fail to provide alternatives for each child, regardless of their present situation, to keep this hyper-bureaucratic system, which has no evaluation criteria, which does not invest anything in the teaching staff, which does not evaluate in any form the quality of the service that the teachers provide to children.

In the healthcare area, there are situations - fortunate that there was a court decision, which allowed 71 medicines to remain on the market, being used by several hundred thousands of Romanians, medicines for diabetes, respiratory and other diseases, and the court ruled that they remain on the market, as the Minister of Health wanted the 71 medicines to disappear from the market. I gave an example at the committees' hearings: we need to stop this practice of removing medicines that many of them are produced in the country, just to allow access to medicines that are 20-30 times more expensive, and the Romanian pharmaceutical industry be thus out of business.

As for healthcare, greater emphasis should be put on prevention, family doctors and the ambulatory system must receive our support. We should eliminate any discrimination between service providers of the private system and those of the public system. We desire to be healthy, not in hospitals. Fewer people in hospitals, better for them, and smaller costs with funding public system as it is widely known that settlements are made according to the number of cases. The more we conduct educational campaigns to persuade Romanians to undergo medical tests, to detect diseases at an early stage, the greater their chance of healing. It is possible to curb mortality which, unfortunately, is today at the highest level in Romania.

As for the transport infrastructure, I don't want to say anything about the past, but all projects need to be accelerated. I told you that we are at a risk of 3.2 billion disengagement, most of which are on the POIM, due to the fact that the contracts for infrastructure modernization projects were not signed. To date, we have not closed the Pan-European Corridor IV connecting the Port of Constanta to the Pan-European transport infrastructure, on the western border.

We are in the same situation regarding the railway. Thus, at the end of their tenure, they hardly signed two contracts on the railway modernization. The previous government was not able to even complete some sections of motorway that could be finalized without any problem, such as the Lugoj-Deva section, the Sebeș section. Although the European Commission has asked us to finance the feasibility study on the Târgu Mureș-Iași-Ungheni Highway from European funds, we are in the position that the previous Cabinet has not made any request to obtain this financing and it did almost nothing to really have the approved technical-economic documentation. On almost all infrastructure projects, only bald lies! I do not know how many times the former prime minister said that she signed the contract on the Bucharest beltway and sent the request for funding to the European Commission. Each time it was nothing but bald lies that were served by subordinates to a prime minister who did not understand anything, it seems that even today she does not understand anything. The transport infrastructure, the Roman word was "via vita" – the road means life, is fundamental to ensure the support for Romania's economic development. There are very important projects, such as the Danube Strategy, which we discussed with the representatives from ALDE, there are infrastructure projects in the area of Moldova, which was deprived of investments in infrastructure that must restart as soon as possible to allow this area to be connected. It was deprived by PSD, who always benefited from the votes of people from Moldova who ensured their victory in elections. We must start a program that should not be invented, we have a Masterplan that is approved at the level of the European Union and we must do nothing but put it into practice and obviously add other projects that are needed for development.

With respect to foreign policy, the pillars of our governmental action are very clear: the strategic partnership with the United States, strengthening the importance and the role we have at European level, and developing the capacity to influence decisions at European level, so that decisions bring real benefits to Romania, also strengthening NATO role and capitalizing on this position in order to truly generate security for every Romanian citizens, especially in the context of the presence of threats.

In the defence area, we obviously set the goal of allocating 2 percent of GDP, it is a commitment we undertook, and which we will effectively honour. Furthermore, we should unlock all competitive procedures in the Army endowment programme which was approved and needs to be put into practice. We should also integrate into the process taking place today at European level so that our manufacturing capabilities become part – obviously, they cannot build entirely a weapon or a war machine, but the Romanian defence industry should effectively take part in the projects unfolding at European level.

Dear colleagues, although I could talk to you for days about Romania's problems and, above all, about the solutions that we want to put forward and implement, I will conclude by saying a few words about environment. There is a dramatic situation in the environmental field. All the tools we have available should be used to stop illegal logging; whether it's the Forest Inspector, SUMAL or other instruments.

We will also have to commit ourselves to finding solutions to avoid infringement due to the objective we have from January 1 next year, namely to process 50% of the amount of garbage that is collected in Romania. Obviously, I endorse, exactly as we established with our partners, the amendment of the law which, although declared unconstitutional, eventually passed through the Parliament, namely the possibility of non-governmental organizations to be administrators of national parks.

Dear colleagues, I want you to know one thing. In case we receive your confidence vote, our Cabinet will re-establish the relationship between Parliament and Government according to the Constitution. I will avoid to the maximum the adoption of normative acts through emergency ordinances. I will be permanently in dialogue, communication and debate with the Romanian Parliament - the only authority that really has the legitimacy to legislate, to make laws. We cannot accept that two or three people, regardless of whether they are the prime minister or the endorsing minister, to adopt normative acts overnight, without any public debate, which generates consequences that we are now struggling to redress: such as Ordinance 79, Ordinance 82, Ordinance 60, Ordinance 114, and the whole series of ordinances that upset situations.

The ministers of this Cabinet will be present at the parliamentary committees, they will be present at the parliamentary groups, for any kind of consultations, for any kind of debate; and the same is valid for me as a Prime Minister-designate.

I conclude by conveying a very simple message: our objective is to re-establish the confidence of our strategic partners in Romania and the Romanian Government. Our objective is to restore the confidence of citizens in Government, in its ability to govern in the public interest. Our objective is for government, administration to become a real partner of the business sector, of every investor irrespective whether it is Romanian or foreign who wants to invest in Romania, and equally the partner of every citizen with economic initiative or a social initiative, or an initiative in the cultural field. The Government belongs neither to a political party nor to half of Parliament, the Government is of every Romanian. Thank you.



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