Press briefing by Prime Minister Florin Cîțu and Education Minister Sorin Câmpeanu at the end of the Cabinet meeting of July 14

14 July

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Florin Cîțu: Good afternoon. In today's government meeting, we approved the Memorandum on the "Educated Romania" project, a project of President Klaus Iohannis. I think it is no surprise that there is a need for reform in the education system in Romania, and this program, "Educated Romania has been debated publicly and has been presented recently. It's high time to implement it. You know very well that I do not give up when it comes to undertaking reforms and that is why, today, in the government meeting, we also undertook this reform in terms of education. The aid will be allocated for this reform program, through the state budget and also under the PNRR – National Recovery and Resilience Plan. There, you know very well, almost 3.6 billion euros have been allocated. There are several priority areas in "Educated Romania" - teaching career, management and governance, funding pre-university education system, education system infrastructure, curriculum and result-focused evaluation, inclusive and quality education for all children, functional literacy and so on. Of course, I think that the important part of today's government meeting was that we also assumed deadlines to deliver and implement this "Educated Romania" project. The first deadline, on August 1, there will be an inter-ministerial working group, coordinated by the prime minister or number 2 in this project, the vice-chair of the committee will be the Minister of Education, Sorin Cîmpeanu. Another deadline is September 10, for the adoption of a government decision on approving the action plan with deadlines and responsibilities for the implementation of the project and we need to draw up the legislative package to ensure the implementation of the "Educated Romania" project by October 1. Minister is here to give you more details about this program. If there are questions about the project or others, one question from each journalist, then the Minister will go into the details of the "Educated Romania" project.

Reporter: We see that states are preparing more and more for the fourth wave of COVID-19. In the context in which the last wave hit Romania quite hard, if we look at the intensive care beds and how the health system was overwhelmed then, the question is whether, now, Romania is ready to receive a large wave of patients at ​​ICU?

Florin Cîțu: I want to remind you that, since the third wave and towards the end of the third wave, I said very clearly that we will not give up our capabilities for COVID. At the same time, I said that I wanted a system whereby we can quickly transfer, if necessary, from the non-COVID system to intensive care units. I am sure that the Ministry of Health has taken into account what I said then and will be prepared for wave four.

Reporter: So, Romania is ready.

Florin Cîţu: At the same time, the difference from wave 3, if you allow me, is that now we can get vaccinated anytime, anywhere, with any type of vaccine. You know very well that during wave 3, we received few doses of vaccine, so there is a difference, I would say vital in the fight against this virus. The vaccine is the only solution. We have a vaccine, we need to get vaccinated.

Reporter: However, the number of people getting vaccinated is getting smaller.

Florin Cîţu: In Romania, the vaccine is not mandatory.

Reporter: Mr. Prime Minister, does it seem to you a festival of democracy that the mayors have been queuing for two days at the Government to negotiate the money received at the budget revision? Because political opponents accuse you of using the country's money to gain support at the September 25 PNL Congress?

Florin Cîţu: A senseless accusation, which I reject immediately and without any doubt. If you remember, in Vaslui, we invited the mayors from PSD to come and talk; two days ago, I attended a meeting at the Association of Romanian Municipalities. The fact that PSD kept Romania undeveloped and yesterday I found out, for example, from the mayors of Teleorman that all the administrative-territorial units in that county had no gas connection, with unpaved roads, although a Prime Minister and several other officials were from there. Romania has been left behind! And who knows better how to develop Romania than those who were chosen to develop Romania? I repeat, I also had this meeting with the Association of Municipalities which includes mayors from all political parties, and I listened to them and endorsed some of their projects. The PSD mayors in Vaslui received an invitation and I am always waiting for them to come. So I think there was no more democracy than during this government’s tenure.

Reporter: Thank you!

Reporter: We saw that today the euro reached a maximum again at the NBR exchange rate and economists say that this has to do with the current account deficit, with the imbalance. I saw that today you discussed Romania's public debt. In this context, does the government have solutions for things to balance, not to see a euro reaching 5 lei in the next period?

Florin Cîţu: Things are very clear to me in this regard. Prices are determined by the market, in an economy. And we only talk about prices when these go up a little bit, but we don't talk about them when they go down. Prices will go up, they will go down depending on supply and demand. What this government can do - and it does very well - is to set a clear, sustainable and credible path to reducing the budget deficit. It is so because the European Commission, in its excessive deficit analysis, has assumed the same trajectory as Romania in terms of the budget deficit. That matters when we look in the medium and long term and look also at the evolution of other prices. The fluctuations are normal in a market economy and we should get used to prices that go up and down because that it what a market economy means.

Reporter: Will you correct the deficit target through the draft revision? Can we expect a smaller deficit by the end of the year?

Florin Cîţu: If we correct it, we will correct the deficit target downwards, but let's see first what the situation looks like on each ministry and then we will come with the deficit target.

Reporter: Mr Prime Minister, going back to a possible wave 4 and vaccination, I noticed a statement made last night by Vice Prime Minister Dan Barna that we should have taken much firmer action on vaccination, in terms of access to events, to allow only people who have been vaccinated, just to encourage vaccination. I wanted to ask you if you had such a discussion in the government about tougher measures to encourage vaccination, in the context that that target of 5 million vaccinated people that should have been reached on June 1 has not yet been touched.

Florin Cîţu: Proposals for measures can always be made when we vote for CNSU. If such proposals come and go through these committees, of course, we will take them into account. At this time I did not have such proposals, on the contrary, I remember the support of coalition colleagues for the relaxation measures, for concerts to be held and so on. If I misunderstood the message, it would be good to clarify.

Reporter: Hello! I would like to ask you: why we needed to buy 120 million doses of COVID vaccine and how much will they cost us?

Florin Cîţu: I didn't buy them. They are ordered, and you know very well that the strategy on buying vaccines has been assumed at the level of the entire European Union. Everyone has the same strategy, Romania receives pro-rata, and all countries go in the same direction. The strategy was initially drawn up by the European Commission, taking into account this system of resale of the vaccine or donations to other countries, so, through this Covax system, there is a strategy drawn up from the beginning, by the European Commission, negotiation. So it's a strategy we've been involved in. If we didn't participate in this strategy, we might not have had the vaccine as quickly.

Reporter: I mean, somehow we were forced to buy these doses.

Florin Cîțu: I didn't buy them, these doses are ordered and they are not for a year, they are for several years. Because from the beginning it was clear that the pandemic may not disappear in the first year and maybe, we need more doses in the coming years. These doses are for next year as well.

Reporter: You didn't tell us about the prices. I also asked you about the cost of the vaccine, how much we paid for these doses.

Florin Cîțu: We will see what the final bill is when we pay them. I sold many of them, the price dropped to some of them. So there is no fixed cost at the beginning. First, the order is made and then we have the invoice.

Reporter: Vaccination will be mandatory for certain categories of personnel in France, for example, for medical staff, as well as in Greece. I understood yesterday that this will not happen in Romania, but then, what is the government doing to speed up our vaccination campaign given that we currently rank last and expect wave 4?

Florin Cîțu: You look at the number of people vaccinated, I look at the number of people infected - there we are in the best situation in the European Union, so far. So, we are in the best situation. So you compare countries that theoretically should not have this problem because they have more people vaccinated and yet they have a more difficult situation in terms of the rate of infection. We need to look at all the indicators. The Government has done its best. First of all, we were the first country in Europe to have a vaccine for everyone, for those who want to be vaccinated anytime, anywhere, with any type of vaccine. Vaccination is not mandatory in Romania, but, of course, if we are responsible, we must get vaccinated, because it is the only solution to get rid of the pandemic. So far this has been the case.



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