Press briefing by Prime Minister Florin Cîțu and Minister for Development, Public Works and Administration Cseke Attila at the end of the Cabinet meeting of September 3

03 September 2021

[Check against delivery]

Florin Cîțu: Good afternoon. We had a brief Cabinet meeting today. Unfortunately, the USR PLUS ministers, although they are paid for it, did not come to the Cabinet meeting today, but we had a quorum and we approved the only item on the agenda - the Anghel Saligny National Investment Plan. Minister Cseke is here today, to give you details about the program.

I want to be very clear that what we have in this programme is in the government programme and we are not doing anything else by today's decision, but observe the government programme. Whoever says anything else does nothing but lie or not respect the government programme. I would like to read what the programme for government stipulates on page 97: investment objectives scheduled for 2021 – 2024, the extension of water and sewage networks, upgrading or repair of local and county roads, I invite you to read more there. There are other things as well, we are talking about amounts, etc. The projects in this investment plan have already been included in the programme for the government. It is an investment plan which is correlated with what we will approve in a couple of weeks. That is why I appeal again for political maturity because in just a few weeks we have a very important plan for Romania, the PNRR, which will bring investments of almost 30 million euros to Romania. We need this coalition. Only this coalition, from my point of view, can implement this investment plan. I would like to clarify one more thing, as I have seen talks in the public space, and I asked for a report from the Ministry of Justice regarding the approval, I wish to present you a detail which has not been presented publicly. On August 17, the specialized directorate prepared a response document, therefore, it approved the project which has reached the Justice Ministry, the response remained at the Ministry’s office, it has never been signed. I would like those dealing with this issue, to see if that is an abuse of office, to investigate this situation, to see whether this project was retained, or was made to be retained intentionally. You have the other remaining information, we have seen them in the public space, I asked the Minister to check how official documents get public.  It is unacceptable that such official documents leave Ministries, and nobody is held accountable for this. Before I give the floor to Minister for details about the national investment plan, I would like to inform you that I will get in contact with the European leaders about what is happening in Romania. There are things that I did not believe, could happen in 2021, there's a toxic alliance looming, an alliance with an extremist party, a party that wants to harm the Romanians, a party that does not respect private property, does not respect individual freedom, a party I personally consider we should have nothing to do with. I will inform the European leaders and of course, our strategic partners - the USA - about the situation in Romania, and we will learn what they think of it.

Reporter: Good evening, Prime Minister. I would like to ask you what will be the consequence for the USR PLUS ministers who were absent from the Cabinet meeting today if you intend to take measures in this regard?

Florin Cîțu: I appeal for honour every time. If they failed to attend for objective reasons, ok, if not, you know how it is: in the private sector, if you are absent, you are not paid for that day. We are here to work for Romanians, for the interests of Romanians, to implement the programme for government. I would like to know the motivation behind the absence from today’s Cabinet meeting.

Reporter: There is a probability ...

Florin Cîțu: Two questions.

Reporter: ... to be dismissed in the context in which they will not listen to your call to honor, which you made a little earlier?

Florin Cîțu: Let's see if they finally understand that Romania needs a functional government. We need - today, for example, we could not approve a government decision or an ordinance, it had to be at the Ministry of Health, to vaccinate Afghan citizens who came to Romania and there are other situations. It was not possible because no one came from the Ministry of Health. I think it is important to understand that the interests of Romanians are the most important for us and we are here for Romanians.

Reporter: Mr Prime Minister, I saw that Dacian Cioloş, Dan Barna practically gave you an ultimatum. They said you have until 6 pm today, time to resign, if not, they will file a motion of censure. Mathematically, their motion can be filed. PSD has already announced that it will vote for it, if USR and AUR file this censure motion. Have you thought better? Are you resigning or what is the next step?

Florin Cîţu: Today, in the Political Bureau of the PNL, a unanimous vote in support of the Prime Minister's move to carry on with the implementation of the programme for government. At the same time, we voted the team that will participate today in the negotiations at 6 pm at the Government.

Reporter: And I would have another question about this investment program. The USR PLUS demanded guarantees that this money would not reach the local barons. What are those guarantees? What guarantees did you take?

Florin Cîţu: Here, the Minister should explain better, but I made sure that it is a transparent investment program and all projects will be presented. There are projects that if they are not done, we will remove them from the list. I tell you that we use cost standards from European funds and we have not seen any colleague from USR to get upset when we give money back to European funds because many rules have been infringed and no one says not to take European funds. We learn from mistakes. This program is a very transparent one. It is aimed at the needs of Romanians after 30 years, basic needs, and it will be a very, very transparent program. And every time there is a problem, we will intervene to correct it.

Reporter: You said you will file a complaint to the European leaders...

Florin Cîţu: No, it is an information report, not a complaint.

Reporter: Why do you need to submit such an information report to European leaders and do you envisage things, the crisis continues?

Florin Cîţu: No, I think that it is important that the receivers of the report learn that their colleagues in Romania strike an alliance with an extremist party no one would want anything to do with. It’s just a dialogue I’ll have with my European colleagues, I’d like to know their opinion.

Reporter:  You refer to Renew or whom do you send this report to?

Florin Cîţu: Renew and the other groups that respect democracy, individual freedoms, everything we stand for in the European Union. And we also send it to the strategic partners in the United States.

Reporter: I would have another question on another topic. Romanians have huge bills at energy, electricity and gas. I would like to ask you if you started checks, if there is any perspective, to avoid in the next period the bills worth hundreds of thousand lei, not speaking about tens of thousands.

Florin Cîţu: You are right. It is a very important topic, one for which this government should carry on. We had a discussion last week attended by ANPC and ANRE. Following that discussion, we decided on establishing joint teams, and I was very clear and firm in that discussion, in that meeting. The distributors or operators who take advantage of this situation to artificially inflate the bill of consumers, will suffer consequences going up to canceling their operation license. We are also considering other solutions as well, you already know them, we have announced them, we are hurrying up. Parliament is needed here to accelerate the adoption of the vulnerable consumer’s law, and Government will deal with the compensation ordinance, and together with Mr. Minister, we will compesate for November, December, January, February, March, a part of this winter bill.

Reporter: Have you started these checks? Are joint groups operational?

Florin Cîţu: Yes, as of last week. Thank you.

Reporter: Good afternoon. I wanted to ask you if you have the CES approval for this draft emergency ordinance.

Florin Cîţu: Minister will explain that the CES approval is not necessary.

Reporter: Why did you send it to CES?

Florin Cîţu: it was withdrawn from CES, Mr. Minister will exactly explain the procedure.

Reporter: What is the financing source for this project in amount of 50 billion lei, which will stretch over the next 7 years? Law compels you to mention the funding source.

Florin Cîţu: The funding source, Romania’s budget, has been mentioned. We have three funding sources for investments which we mentioned all the time: Romania’s budget, we will maintain investments from Romania’s budget of at least 13 billion euros yearly, PNRR and European funds. There are three sources of investment, all for investment projects.

Reporter: Do you consider yourself blackmailed by USR given the fact that their Ministers did not attend today’s Cabinet meeting?

Florin Cîţu: No, harassed. I was blackmailed when they told me that the draft regulatory act will not get the seal of approval until a bill to dismantle the SIIJ is passed, and I made every effort and supported any measure coming from the Justice Ministry to abolish the SIIJ. Now, I just feel harassed, it’s the Romanians who should feel blackmailed.

 

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